Competing in the new year? Whether your competition is next month or 10 months from now it’s never too early to get the most out of your pre-competition training. Just don’t miss out on simple changes or additions to your routine that might take your competition piece to new heights. So let’s dive into our 8 “MUST-DOs” for competition prep:
1. Start your conditioning early
Signed up to compete? Pretty sure you are going to competition? Thinking about maybe, sometime competing? Well, start your conditioning now! Make your pre-comp life easy by starting your conditioning (including strength building, flexibility training, cross training) early on. First off you will see the most benefits by slowly building your additional conditioning exercises into your routine, allowing yourself to gradually increase its intensity. Second, it will make the additional pole work you take on in pre-comp mode easier to tackle. That jade split will be a whole lot comfier when you already have your over-split perfected.
2. Don’t forget to freestyle
It can be tempting to schedule your pole practices down to the last second, filling every moment with specific tricks and combos you need to work on for the competition. So making space for freestyling can feel like a waste of time, but it isn’t! Freestyling is where the magic happens. Allowing yourself time to just enjoy your competition music and not stress about what you SHOULD be doing frees you to discover new and interesting movement AND rediscover old combos and tricks you may have forgotten. Just make should you are recording that way you can be in the moment when you are freestyling.
3. Video early and often
As a general rule, polers tend to be perfectionists, which often means we don’t want to start recording ourselves until we have our moves down pat. Unfortunately, there are a lot of missed opportunities in waiting till the last moment to video your training sessions. By recording early and often, you get to see your performance for the audience’s point of view from the get go. You’ll learn that while you might feel like you are over-emoting, your movements don’t actually come across as big as the feel. And of course, video is a great training tool to use in correcting form and technique.
4. Angle your tricks
Part of what sets the pros apart from the amateur polers is their skill in angling each trick and each big moment towards the audience and judges. They know not to waste all the work they did on nailing an Iron X by accidentally ending up with their body angled towards the back of the stage. Confidently knowing you will end up on the side of the pole you want to takes practice and muscle memory. Start early and use your video recorder as the audience so you can perfect your pose with certainty!
5. Schedule breaks
Along with being perfectionists, polers are also known for their intensity in training. We just love pole so much we want to do it 24/7! The unfortunate fact of the matter is that that just isn’t the safest way to go about it. By pushing yourself to pole when your pole is telling you to take a break, you are setting yourself up for more long-term fatigue and even injury. Also have you ever noticed that when you take a few days or even a week off of pole after intense training and then return, you are stronger than ever?! It’s awesome! So schedule breaks into your training schedule and really listen to your body when it tells you, you need to slow down.
6. Get your costume early and practice in it
No, this is not just an excuse to dance around in sparkles, but it is a perk of this “must do”! Costumes and props create unique challenges in pole performances and you do not want to have one of those challenges pop up mid-competition. Do your best to prevent possible disaster by practicing in costume and with props as early and as often as possible – even use similar props or style pole wear to recreate the experience if you don’t have the real thing in yet. Most likely everything will go as planned on the day of, but if not you are prepared to deal with the worst.
7. Make healthy changes
Get enough sleep – that means to leave parties early or set your DVR to record if you have to. Cut down or completely out unhealthy eating habits. Up the fruit and veggie, decrease the take-out. Drink lots of water. Eat more protein. Remember you are training more than ever so you need to support your body’s increased activity. You already know to do these things, you just need to actually do them!
8. Keep your partner, family, and friends in the loop
Training for a pole competition can be a solitary, even lonely experience, one that our non-pole partners don’t quite understand. You willingly put yourself into a very intense and stressful situation and others may not know the right way to support you through the experience. Be honest and open with those in your life about why competing is important to you. Then explain (to the best of your ability) what time and energy commitment it will take and any changes you will be making to your lifestyle. If you break it down for them from the beginning they are more likely to become your p[ole comp cheerleader than the begrudging partner who can’t wait till the comp is over.