Your heart is pounding, your adrenaline is pumping, and it feels like a whole swarm of butterflies are in your stomach. You are waiting back stage for your turn to perform in a PSO competition. Maybe its your first competition ever or your 20th, but the feeling is the same as you wait for your name to be called. At this moment you can make a choice – give into the nerves or breathe through them.
This is were the experienced performer has the advantage. Learning to calm your pre-show nerves comes with lots of practice. But that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate that practice into your competition training by recognizing the things that are going to set your nerves on the fritz and learning to just breathe. Here are:
1. If You Did Enough
Enough practice, enough run-throughs, enough cross training, enough WHATEVER! Backstage, jumping around hopped up on adrenaline is not the time to start questioning if you did enough. The fact is you did the best you could and even if you would do it differently next time you can’t change anything in that moment. Playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda game has literally no way to help you pre-performance. Take all those thoughts and leave them for the post-game review where it could actually be put to good use towards your next performance!
2. How Everyone Else is Doing
One of the benefits to competing is it gives you a great opportunity to show off your pole skills to family and friends. Heck I even wrote about it as a great reason to compete in my last post! But you don’t want to be stuck playing babysitter when all your attention and focus needs to be on the performance. You could drive yourself to distraction worrying about who is sitting where, if they’ll find the venue, or even if they are going to “get” pole dance at all. Get your significant other or a buddy to take over family duty and just let go of the responsibility. You will have plenty of time afterwards to enjoy the competition with family and friends – leave the pre-show time just for you.
3. What Everyone Else is Doing
Waiting backstage it is tough to not be curious what your competitors are doing and very tempting to sneak a peek at those performing ahead of you. While it might be natural to be curious, it is also a fantastic way to undermine your performance. You need to focus on the awesomeness that is your competition piece and not stress over the tricks someone else chose to put in theirs. Like reason #1 watching back competitor performances can be a great way to improve your performance for next time, but it will do you no good (other then force you to second guess yourself) to think about it in the here and now. This goes for the way others warm up or their pre-show rituals. Just because you see people in your division working some crazy over split stretch doesn’t mean you need to bust it out as well. Be confident in your vision!
4. How the Audience Reacts
This has to be the element that threw me for the biggest loop as a newbie competitor. Most of us in the pole world are used to the immediate hoots and hollers of our fellow pole students that follow us from our first step on stage through our ending pose. However, as we move out into the larger pole world the reactions of the audience may not meet our expectations and the emotional boost of instant cheers may not be there. The audience could have been sitting in their seats since 8 am or just don’t have a personal connection to you and are going to be a bit stingier with the applause or a hundred other things. Either way it can be hard to not take it personally, but analyzing the reasons mid-competition is only going to throw your performance off. Allow the audience to feed into your performance, but not dictate it. Enjoy moments of praise, but don’t be beholden to your audience. You own the stage when you compete, go full out, and if the audience goes there with you – great! If not, they are missing out!
5. What Could Go Wrong
What’s a sure fire way to make sure you mess up in your pole performance? …think about it… Did you get “spend the minutes before walking on stage thinking about everything that could go wrong”? If you did, CONGRATS! Now you know exactly what you shouldn’t do. Don’t get me wrong knowing different exits out of difficult moves in case something goes wrong is important and knowing how to gracefully hide mistakes is something worth practicing, but that is all things to worry about in your early run-throughs. When the day of competition arrives trust your body because it knows what to do.
You can see a theme that runs through this list and its trust. Trusting your body, trusting your vision, trusting that no matter what happens on stage it will all work out. If you shut out those worries and learn to breathe I promise you it all will!