score sheets

Your first competition of the season just ended, and you head over to the judges’ table to pick up a packet of your score sheets. Do you like to immediately read them? Do you collect them but then stuff them away in your bag for later?

score sheets

If you are the type of coach that likes to read right away, be careful who is around you. Especially if it was an emotional event, read them privately and separate yourself from your team and the event. Even better, WAIT! Usually we are all a little emotional on competition days and this is the time to model restraint and stay present in the moment with your team.

The Score Sheets Team Meeting

When you’re ready, go through the feedback first alone or with assistant coaches to decipher handwriting, determine what sections of the score sheet the judges are focusing on, etc. Look for themes across judges. Did they all mention transitions? Did you get consistent comments about difficulty?

Then at the next practice, set aside a few minutes (not 20!) to discuss the score sheets with your team. But you’re not reading them for the first time and you already have a clear sense of what you are going to say.

Before you start…

Before you start reading, give the team a simple explanation of the score sheet for this specific event. Tell them how the point breakdown works, how many judges, etc. Then go through each sheet but read the comments selectively. You can read most of them, but if there is a negative comment about a specific dancer don’t read it and talk to her about it separately or just make a similar comment next time you run the routine. Likely it’s because of a big mistake and that dancer already knows she messed up, so don’t call her out again. However, if there is a comment about a soloist like, “on that lift, make sure you keep your facial expressions” go ahead and say it. If they have a solo, they can hear the comments.

After reading the score sheets…

After reading through the score sheets, ask the dancers what themes they noticed. Don’t just offer your opinions but help them understand to interpret and learn from the feedback. Is there a specific section of the routine we should spend more time on this week? What aspects of the score sheets is there the most opportunity for growth?

If there is a comment you don’t agree with, you can be honest with the team and explain why. Maybe a judge suggests moving a formation and you disagree. Explain why or say that only one judge had that opinion and the others seem to like it so we’ll leave it in-line with the choreographer’s vision.

Once you’ve discussed the score sheets, choose the top 3 things you want to fix/change/focus on and get to work! Set your “big 3” areas of focus for the day. You can use a dry erase marker on the mirror or however you usually display your plan for practice. Outline it and start a focused practice where you can begin to implement the feedback you choose to.

Some “Do’s and Don’ts” of sharing competition score sheets:


  • Set aside time to discuss as a group but set a time limit too!
  • Ask the dancers for their summary and take-home points
  • Explain the score sheet for that particular event
  • Praise where appropriate
  • If you disagree with a comment, clearly explain why
  • Choose your top 3 areas of focus based on the feedback and get to work.


  • Read it in front of them after awards at the event
  • Talk about it at the event itself. Instead, give some space, even if it went really well
  • Call out individual dancers negatively in front of others.
  • Bash judges. Instead, give the dancers perspective. Judges are human and if you feel there was a mistake, focus on what you can control in the future. Control the controllables!

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