It’s easy to look at other dance teams and wish your team was more like the one you admire. “I wish we had their stamina.” “They have such presence on stage.” “I love the way they dance with fire and passion. I want to make that happen for my team.” But how do you make that dream a reality? It starts with habit change.

Habit change

Habit Change

When you come up with your big goals, you may decide you want to make a change this season. Then you get excited about it, and decide to go ALL IN. “I’ll add this cardio training, we’ll do confidence journals all season, I’ll add a mental warmup to every practice, we’ll add floor barre training into our workouts” etc. etc. etc.

But here’s the problem: It’s like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach and you end up with too much stuff! When you try to make all sorts of changes at once, it’s really hard to make a consistent change. Your desire for change was bigger than your ability and you end up making no change at all. You may make a great effort for a few weeks, but one by one, the new desired habits fall away.

Adding something new to your program can feel overwhelming. When I talk to coaches about adding in mental toughness training for example, I hear things like, “It’ll take too much time. I keep forgetting about it.” 

Shhhhh… there’s a secret!

If you want to create a new habit for your program, it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming or take a lot of time. Instead, HUGE changes in a season can happen with just a small investment every day.

“Habits don’t change in a day. But 1% a day makes every habit work.”

James Altucher

If you don’t think you’ll be able to make a big difference in your team’s jumps this season, or there’s not enough time to see a significant difference in stamina, I want to challenge that thought process.

There is enough time. It won’t happen overnight. But it WILL happen over the course of the season with just a small investment each day. It’s called the 1% Rule.

The Power of the 1% Rule

Simply put, 1% change each day will add up over the course of your season. 1% is all you need to make a new habit stick.

If you relax and give yourself permission to only improve a little each day, then you will begin to see big strides towards your goal. And it’s important that you give yourself permission to improve and permission to fail. It’s about the work. The effort. The consistent small steps that add up. When you first start a new habit, you will have good days and bad days. It’s important to keep going a little bit every day. Just a 1% change is all you need.

Here’s one example from my team a few years ago:

I decided that one of our biggest weaknesses in our pom routine was our jumps. We didn’t have the flexibility or power I wanted to display. So I talked to the captains about it and me made the choice to focus on two specific team jumps all season. We incorporated specific stretches and strength drills into our standard warmup, and always had time to drill those two jumps before we moved on to something new. 

The goal was a 1% improvement on the day before. Just 1% lower in your stretch. Just 1% higher in your jump. Your toes just 1% more pointed. That’s all, just 1% per day.

I’ll admit, it didn’t always seem like it was working. Sometimes it got monotonous and we had to remind ourselves of the goal and not to take those drills lightly.

But then the magic started to happen. EVERYONE on the team started to see real growth in those two jumps. And you know why? It’s simple math…

If you improve a little each day, it compounds. When 1% compounds every day, it doubles every 72 days. Not every 100 days, it’s actually much faster than that. When you compound small amounts of effort, it creates big progress.

You can’t be a master of a new skill in one day. You have to improve a little every day.

Consider this: If you stand in first position and do a relevé and hold for 10 seconds, 5 times a day, then in a year you will have done 1825 relevés and balanced for 304 minutes. And each minute you hold will be stronger than the time before.

And that’s a lot more than most dancers would do in a year.

If I write one journal entry a day taking up just one page, that may not be much. But in a year, that’s the equivalent to a novel.

Also, consider this… you can decrease 1% a day. You can give up one day, skip one cardio training, decide there isn’t time for that core workout, and say, “it’s ok. It’s only 1 day.” 

Commit to a New Habit

I encourage you to use this to rule to create any habit. Including implementing a mental toughness training plan into your dance program. You don’t have to do everything. You have to pick one habit, and make a 1% change every day.

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