Last month I tackled the 8 MUST-DOs before your next pole competition, so it only makes sense I talk about the stuff you should avoid in your competition prep too! When writing this post, a general theme ran through the list which was reminding you that there isn’t one right way to compete. So check out my top 8 DON’Ts before your next competition:
1. Don’t invite non-supportive friends and family to be a part of your process or the competition
Debuting your pole life to friends and family at a competition might seem like the perfect venue for the uninitiated to learn what pole dance is all about. However, it is a high-stress environment that doesn’t need an extra level of stress added on top of it. And unfortunately, if said friends and family are less open to your pursuit than you hoped it can completely ruin an otherwise amazing experience. It’s okay to let the competition be about you and your needs for the day. Send them photos and video afterward or take them to a class to introduce them to pole dance in a more casual way.
2. Don’t become obsessed with other polers performances
I am fully guilty of this one. When I decide I’m going to compete I obsessively watch old videos of past competitors in my same category and when I find out who I’m competing against I watch all their videos too. Now checking out the competition or looking into examples of past performances for inspiration is not a bad thing…as long as you keep yourself in check. If you become obsessed with what others are doing you aren’t giving yourself space to organically create your own piece. You also run the risk of creating a piece you don’t love because you are so worried about doing something different or “better”. “Better” is in quotes because as polers we often devalue our own strengths, so better is all relative.
3. Don’t go overboard the week before
It may sound obvious, but you want the week leading up to the competition to be one of rejuvenation and health, not exhaustion and injury. In fairness, I don’t think anyone wants ANY week to be one of exhaustion and injury, but you’re better able to handle in the early weeks of training versus the last week. By the week before a competition, your piece should already be finished so now it’s just about running it till you are secure in it. Aid in the memorization process without killing yourself by marking through the routine and running it in your head. Make absolutely sure to get enough sleep, eat well, and maybe throw in a massage too!
4. Don’t feel you need to spend a ton of money
Here is what you need to pay for: your entry fee and time in a location with two 45 mm 12 foot + poles, that’s it! Seriously, there is no rule that says you have to buy a brand new costume, do private lessons, or get a spray tan. If you want to and have the finances for it, awesome, go nuts! But competing doesn’t have to break the bank. Those who are frugal do require a lot more discipline since you will most likely be training on your own but you can get creative. Try inviting fellow polers to join you in training sessions and give each other feedback or host a costume crafting party where you can help each other rhinestone everyday pole wear into competition worthy pieces!
5. Don’t be inflexible to changes
Most amateur (versus pro level) polers I know decide to compete because they have a really fantastic concept for a piece that they just need to get out there and would love feedback on. That’s awesome, just make sure you know that that perfect routine you have playing on a loop in your head will most certainly be different come performance time. Yup, all those new moves you plan to learn end up be trickier than you expected, that transition that works great in theory doesn’t hold up in practice, and your music is a whole lot faster than you remembered it being. You are not giving up or being lazy, you just identified an issue and are correcting it. It is not a failure to change your mind or your routine.
6. Don’t take on more props than you can handle
I have seen some pretty amazing props in my now years of pole competition watching. There have been swords, chains, teddy bears, chairs, rugs, scepters, wings, tails, severed heads, and more! The thing is a prop never takes a competition piece from okay to amazing, but often times it can do the exact opposite. At it’s best a prop is a tool to better communicate what you are trying to say in your piece, it is the cherry on top of an already stunning routine. However, if the handling of the prop is clumsy or just plain distracting to the routine, well then it is just getting in the way of you. Practice early and often with props and remember to let your body be the center of attention, not the prop.
7. Don’t forget yourself
In the months leading up to a competition, there is a lot of talk about what the judges want to see and what types of routines win. While it is helpful to note what elements judges are looking for, such as pointed toes and appropriately angled tricks, it does no one any good to try to mold yourself into the perfect competition winning machine. First off, it’s an impossible feat. Second, think of all of your favorite winning pole performances you have seen, what do they have in common? They’ll have great lines and stunning aerial feats, but the performer also shared something of themselves in it. They had an emotional connection with their piece and in doing so the judges connected to it too. Create a competition piece that is uniquely you and the audience AND judges will respond to it.
8. Don’t forget to have fun
There is so much to do in the lead up to competition day – training, music selection and editing, costume creation, run-throughs, cross training, etc. You could fill up every free moment of the day with competition prep and still feel like you aren’t doing enough. It doesn’t have to be that way! Schedule breaks, plan pole jams with friends, accept that mistakes and changes are part of the process, and enjoy the journey! You are creating something entirely one-of-a-kind, celebrate it and have fun!