By now you have probably started learning your competition routines and know which contests you are going to – but you have also just spent the last ten weeks performing at pep rallies and halftime, and moods and attitudes are starting to head south. Thanksgiving break is usually a good time for everyone to recharge their batteries, and come back fresh ready to begin the prep work for contest season; but just in case it does not go as smooth as you want here are a few ideas to get your team competition ready:
• Have your social officers come up with a few spirit lifting activities to keep the mid season blues away. Whether it is a quick five minute game, a compliment circle, or a donut breakfast have some of these up lifting ideas ready to go when you feel that your team is in need of a pick me up.
• Set a goal! People tend to work harder when they know what the reward will be. Before you get too far into competition season you need to know what your ultimate goal is. Whether it is to be named Grand Champion at a regional, Best in Class at a state contest, or Grand National Champions determine what you are working for and help them visualize the reward. If you are wanting National Champion jackets print a picture of the jacket and hang it up in your locker room where everyone can see it. This helps keep the goal and the reward on everyone’s mind.
• Put up a countdown in your locker room next to your new goal and reward poster. This will be a reminder that you only have so long before the big day is here, and that every practice leading up to that day is important and needs to be productive. Make sure it is a countdown that you can either tear the days off of or a wipeable board that makes it easy to erase and change the number of days left.
• Keep your warm ups upbeat and fun. Try not to let your team stretch on their own for warm up or do the same one or two you have been doing all football season. If you start out by letting them stretch on “their own” that breaks the team atmosphere that you need to create, so get your team up and moving in a positive mood to get that high energy starting to flow. It will help you have a better and more productive practice.
• Announce at the beginning of practice what you need to accomplish that day. This tells your team what they need to focus on, and work on, and it sets a mini goal for that practice session. If you tell them from the start that you need to run all the routines full out with music for memory and then clean two formations in contest pom, then they know that once you have finished running routines they still have work to do, and will not already start thinking about what they are going to do after practice. It helps you and your team stay on task.
• Make sure you check out the websites of the companies whose contests you are attending. Familiarize yourself with their score sheet and rules. Check out time limits for all your routines and time yourselves so you can make sure you are staying with in the limits. Print out the divisions and the awards and explain to your team what awards you will be eligible for. Most of your new members probably do not know what a sweepstakes is. This also gives you another chance to push your ultimate goal of what you want to win or accomplish.
• Last but not least, because it is probably one of the most important tips on here, have a competition dress rehearsal. Many of you probably do a contest showoff of some sort for your friends and family where you perform all your contest routines in full dress and makeup before you go to contest. That is always a big help, but if you do not do that then you need to at least have a full dress rehearsal. This is where you need to make sure that everyone’s head pieces are going to stay on, props are fully functional, costumes are fitting right. Hopefully you can do this on a gym floor and practice entrance and exit as well as spacing. Have someone video so that you can watch it afterwards and critique yourselves.
University of Minnesota Dance Team doing a competition showcase in 2011
Excellence poster by Marie Leslie Media