Preparation for a major competition takes planning, dedication and hard work. Often the weeks leading up to the event can be filled with emotion and stress. Here is a guide to help you stay on track and be as prepared as possible for this fun and important part of your Irish Dance year.
In the Weeks leading up to the Oireachtas:
- Keep a journal and log all of your practice. Include when you started, when you ended, what you did and the results of your practice or class.
- Devote 1 ½ hours, 4 – 6 days per week to class and practice. Make sure that your practice includes a warm up, stretching, strength & conditioning, endurance, drills and working on the parts of your steps. Take most of the last 2 weeks to practice your dance in its entirety and focus on presentation. Remember, you must spend some time outside of class practicing and perfecting what you have learned in class.
- Eat healthy.
- Take care of your body: Stretch, warm-up, cool down and take care of any injury or soreness that you might have. If you need to, make sure that you ice, apply heat, massage, wrap or rest.
- Get regular sleep. You should be sleeping at least 7 – 8 hours per night from now to the Oireachtas.
- Decrease the stress in your life:
- Stay on top of your school work and assignments
- Practice being calm (mentally keeping yourself calm even in stressful situations)
- Make good choices that are in line with your goals. Set boundaries with your time and energy. (Remember every choice you make either leads you towards or away from your goal)
- Take time each day to sit quietly and visualize your perfect performance at the Oireachtas. Keep your focus positive and successful. Make the visualization very specific and detailed.
- Plan ahead. Make sure that you have everything you need for the Oireachtas. Make a list and check it early on so that you have enough time to get anything you might need. Try your costume on and make sure that everything is perfect. Get anything fixed now!
Practice the Week of the Competition:
Please follow this formula as you do your final preparation for the competition:
- 5 Days out: Full practice. Dance all out, focus on attack, presentation & great feet. Make sure you do a full warm up and stretch well after dancing.
- 4 Days out: Make sure you stretch and do strength for your core. Keep your muscles flexible but do not do any dancing. (this is a good day to do some visualization exercises and mentally practice your perfect performance)
- 3 Days out: Full practice. Dance all out, focus on attack, presentation & great feet. Make sure you do a full warm up and stretch well after dancing.
- 2 Days out: 70% of full practice. Decrease the intensity and length of your practice. Focus on great feet and excellent execution. Make sure you do a full warm up and stretch well after dancing.
- 1 Day out: 50 % of full practice. Decrease the intensity and length of your practice. Focus on great feet and excellent execution. Make sure you do a full warm up and stretch well after dancing. (Most of you will do this at the SRS practice at the competition venue)
On the Day of your Competition:
When you Wake up:
- Do some gentle stretches
- Make sure that your thoughts are positive, full of excitement and grateful for the wonderful opportunity you have.
- Take a few quiet minutes to visualize the day going perfectly for you. The more specific and detailed you can be the better your preparation will be.
- Eat a good breakfast that includes low fat protein and carbohydrates.
- Pack everything that you will need for the day (this can be done the night before) and double check that you have things like spankies, capes, headpieces and other things that are easy for you to forget (you know what those are because you have forgotten them before!).
- Do your hair and make-up as the time dictates.
When you get to the venue:
- Check out where everything is and find your competition room.
- Recheck the schedule and the rotations for each round.
- Check in and get your number (remember you must do this before the competition starts or you will not be able to compete)
- Plan your time schedule.
Before each round of competition:
- Have your hair and Make-up done (you will freshen up just before you go on)
- 30 – 45 minutes before you expect to line-up to dance:
- Have a high carbohydrate snack made up of complex carbohydrates.
- Warm up and stretch & do some general drills.
- FOCUS!!!!! Bring your thoughts to a positive place and to the moment. Focus on what you have to do and how you are going to do it well. Block out other distractions such as your competition, things you cannot control (pretty much everything except your dancing) and other dis-tractors such as phones, iPads and people who are not part of your preparation.
- Go to the bathroom.
- 15 minutes before you expect to line-up to dance:
- Run through your steps (remember that you will be dancing on carpet and cement so watch this step.)
- Have a high carbohydrate snack and water.
- Go to the bathroom
- 5 – 10 minutes before you expect to line-up to dance:
- Get your costume on
- Freshen your make up
- Check wig and costume for security
- Check that your shoes are doubled knotted
As you wait behind the stage to dance:
- Take small sips of water as needed
- Stay loose by doing gentle movement and stretches
- Focus on your upcoming dance and visualize your steps executed perfectly
- Stay in the present and positive about how you will be executing your dance. Review your focus points for that dance.
After you Dance:
- Be gracious and grateful no matter what happened.
- Take 1 – 2 minutes with your teacher to do an honest, objective review of your performance
- Forget that performance and get focused for the next round
- Drink some water
General Things to Remember:
- Be gracious and respectful at all times
- Stay focused and positive
- Do your part. You have a great support team but ultimately it is your responsibility to do the preparation (physical and mental) for your competition.
- Be on time and be prepared.
- “The Little Things That ARE the BIG things!!!!!” – Success is in the details
- Act like a champion & Dare to be Great
Some wise words from Coach John Wooden:
Trophies are not success, nor do possessing them necessarily mean you are a success. Success is measured by the quality of the effort you put forth to do your best (this includes all of the preparation leading up to the competition), and only you know if you have accomplished that. If everything goes well, you may get a trophy, often you don’t. You’re still a success in my (our) way of thinking. The score (results) cannot make you a loser when you have given it your best.
Greatness & Success are the peace of mind & confidence which come from knowing that you did everything you could to become the best that you are capable of becoming. Greatness & Success do not happen on stage, they happen in the hours and days of preparation leading up to the performance.