Confidence is difficult to instill in your dancers, but it’s possible. However, there’s no straight forward way to get there because there is no single cause of confidence. Confidence is cyclical – When you feel more confident, you perform better, which then increases your confidence. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. If you hold back while you dance and act timid, you don’t perform to your best potential, which likely decreases confidence.
The trick as a coach is to help dancers experience the first cycle as often as possible. More confidence… perform better…more confidence. And I have a simple solution for you – just keep cleaning!
Cleaning dance routines is one of the big jobs of a dance coach. We spend hours perfecting our routines, drilling things over and over again until it’s perfect.
But that simple ritual of cleaning a routine can also be a great source of confidence, if you approach it with that intention.
Here’s how it works:
Science has shown us over and over again that a sense of accomplishment is one of the 3 sources of confidence in our lives. (More on the sources of confidence in PART 1 of this series).
Usually, we think of accomplishment as placing high in a competition or making the college team of our dreams. While that’s true, you can help create small doses of accomplishment DAILY that will add up to the same powerful result.
The cycle of confidence presents a big challenge for coaches. They want their dancers to feel confident when striving for a big goal, but dancers don’t feel confident until they’ve reached their goal. Sure, it’s easier to feel confident about your ability to reach a goal once you’ve already done it once. But what if your goal is something you’ve never done before?
That’s where the confidence cycle and a small daily dose of accomplishment comes in.
Increasing the confidence cycle
When you are cleaning your routines, you are hopefully pushing your dancers to a new level. It should be challenging. Those practices are usually hard, grueling, and yet completely rewarding. My challenge to you is that you use these cleaning sessions intentionally as a way to improve your dancers’ confidence.
When you set out to clean a section, set a clear goal. How far do you want to get? How clean is clean for this time of the year? What is your expectation? Tell your team about your goal for cleaning that day. Let them know it’ll be hard, it will probably take X amount of time, but you’re ready to push for it if they are.
Hopefully, you get a lot of head nods and few “Let’s GO!” from your more vocal dancers and the cleaning session begins.
It’s simple, PUSH THEM! As you go, push them to work hard. Push them out of their comfort zone, push them past where they’ve gone before.
Reward them and praise them when you see a small victory. If you notice a dancer hit a trick she’s been missing for weeks, acknowledge it. If you feel like the two 8s you just spent an hour on looks like a whole new dance, tell them!
Let them see the improvement. Take a quick video when you start, and again when you feel like it’s “clean” to the standard of that specific goal. Show them what they accomplished in just an hour.
The confidence cycle works!
Acknowledging their small victories and showing them the accomplishment of the day will boost their confidence. If you’ve pushed them in practice, they worked harder than they have before, but then they see the relatively immediate pay-off. They learn a sense of confidence. Look what we just did today!
The magic happens when you do this regularly. Push them further than they’ve ever been, praise their progress, and show them their small accomplishments. Those small everyday victories add up.
Then when it’s time to take on your BIG goal for the season, it’s much easier for the dancers to be confident about that goal. They’ve already learned that they have what it takes to fight and to expect success (defined as a routine to be proud of, not competitive placement.)
You keep the cycle of confidence going every time you practice with all the little goals and challenges of each day.
Your dancers’ confidence will increase accordingly. Then when it’s time to tackle the big event, they already have a sense of self-confidence and belief in the TEAM’s ability to get it done.
I promise, IT FEELS LIKE MAGIC!