Dancers, three reasons you need a performance coach

| April 4, 2013 | 0 Comments

You trust your dance teachers to guide you to peak physical fitness, but when it comes to your mental fitness, do you have a strategy or are you just winging it?

Taking a cue from high-performance sportsmen and women who have realised the importance of a high-performance mental coach, I set out to discover just what a performance coach could really do for a dancer.

Top three ways a mind coach can help a dancer

Thinking small

Are you still thinking small? Photo by Falequin via Flickr

1. Expectation

According to Sandras Phiri, a performance coach based in Cape Town, a coach can help the performer to change his or her expectation, because a person who does not expect to do well will struggle to achieve the desired goals.

“Unfortunately many people are wired to expect undesirable results as opposed to results they want,” says Sandras. “For instance, when they win, they say ‘I can’t believe it’ and when they lose they say ‘I knew it’. Switching those affirmations around can be very powerful.”

2. Visualisation

Visualisation is not idle day-dreaming. Sandras suggests that a lot of games are won in the mind before they are won on stage and visualisation techniques are just what you need to pre-empt that win.

He claims that when he’s working with his clients on this, he can see from the reactions on their faces and the muscle tension that it is very real in their minds. “Going over this process several times,” he says “significantly reduces nervousness as the performer feels that ‘I’ve done this before’”.

3. Perseverance

Dancers may need no lessons on persevering through pain. (In fact, I’m sure even rough and tough rugby players could learn a thing or two from dancers on that point – with an effortless smile for the audience of course, no grunts and grimaces allowed chaps.)

No, this type of perseverance is different. Sandras explains it best when he says that “many performers sometimes look at other successful performers and get impatient with their own progress. They don’t realise or they forget that to be good at anything one must put in the time. A coach can help the performer to persevere and invest the time.”

Get in the zone

Another performance coach, Craig McKenzie, who has had specific experience with professional sportspeople, adds that he works to coach and upskill athletes and performers “to be in their best mind space in training and competition”.

Focused target practice

Have you tried some mental target practice?
Photo by Editor B via Flickr

He says that each dancer first needs to be able to identify and then learn to get into their ‘ideal performance state’, also known as ‘the zone’ where you can then perform at your highest level.

This illusive state of mind may be legendary, but certainly not mythical – it’s very real and Craig and his colleagues at Head Start Sport have developed a model to help athletes get their minds into the IPS (Ideal Performance State).

After all, dancing is a sport and an art, with all the physical and performance pressures of both. So perhaps adding a little mental exercise to your physical regimen wouldn’t hurt.

Have you experienced ‘the zone’? Do you know how to get there on command? Share your thoughts with us below.

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Category: Mind

About the Author ()

Hi, I'm Robynn, and I'm a student of the potential of the body, the marvels of the mind, and the beauty of it all combined in ballet. As the editor, BodyMindBallet is where I get to learn, to share and to enjoy this wide world of dance - and with every day I gain an ever richer respect for the athleticism of dance and the skill of performance artistry.

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