6 Months ago you were counting down the final days until the World Championships begun… it was all about perfecting every step, final dress fittings, planning your meals for the final weeks and days, last strength and conditioning sessions, family preparations and the list goes on…
6 months from now you will be doing the same thing all over again!
I want you to think about the last 6 months and all that you have done during that time and how fast that time went.
Were you happy with your results? Did you get what you wanted? Do you want to make sure you keep your top spot?
6 Months is needed to see improvement!
Speaking from experience, learning from trial and error and seeing what works best over the years, I have discovered that it takes the average Irish dancer at least 6 months to see maximum results. I have trained dancers who have corrected their postural issues, flexibility issues, mobility issues, strength imbalances etc within 6-12 weeks but unfortunately this is not common. Why? When I assess a dancers fitness components including muscular and cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, balance, co-ordination, agility, power and carry out other tests including a postural assessment, motion tests and other, the results can obviously vary depending on the person. This means that it may take some dancers longer than others to resolve these issues and like everything else, some can be unfortunate and may have to work harder than others to get results.
There is no easy way around it, you need to put in the work! This might help you to get started…
If you want to be successful, not just in Irish dancing but in life, you need to put in the work! So i’m going to talk to you about something which I feel has a huge impact on results… and if you are that person who needs to work harder than the next person, then I suggest you keep reading…
Time is precious, so don’t waste it! Most of you reading this, will be saying its easier said than done and do you know what… I am with you 100%! But here’s the hard truth, nobody is going to be listening to those excuses when you go on stage. Every dancer is singing from the same hymn sheet. The ones who prioritise and find the time are the ones who get results! Here is an exercise to help you plan better…
1. I want you to write down the number 24 on a sheet of paper. ( the number of hours per day)
2. Then I want you to subtract the number of hours you sleep each day from twenty four. It should be average 10 hours for most of you, which leaves us with 14 hours left.
3. Then I want you to subtract the number of hours you are in school or at work each day. I’m going to guess 7.5 hours including travel. That now leaves us with 6.5 hours left in the day.
4. Now subtract the amount of time it takes you to do your homework/study or maybe you have a house chore of some kind to do. So lets say that takes 1.5 hours, leaving us with 5 hours of free time.
5. T.V, Tablets, iPhones, mobile devices, video games or something similar… how much time do you spend on these gadgets? I’m guessing at least 2 hours a day for most of you! So that’s 3 hours left…
6. Play time, Music classes, other activities… lets say 1 hour. That leaves us with 2 hours…
7. Meal times, cleaning up, showering or other, lets say another hour… That leaves us with 1 hour! Read on…
I think you will agree that this would look like a typical day for most of you. Now, I know that I didn’t add your dance class in there which can be anything from 1 -3 hours long… the reason why I didn’t is because I wanted you to look at your typical day when you are not dancing. After including everything into your daily schedule and knowing that you could easily spend less time doing some of the activities which I have mentioned… like being on your phone!! You still have 1 hour to spare. How you spend this hour could be the difference between success and failure.
My programs which I design for each one of my students usually takes no more than 1 hour to complete. Following this plan for 60 minutes on the days you are not dancing will make a difference. During this hour you will be focusing on your strength, flexibility, stamina, speed, power, improving your posture, flexibility, mobility, balance and so on. The program will be designed to suit your needs and will focus on areas which need most attention, giving you maximum results in a shorter space of time.
The dancers who prioritise, find the time to follow a program like this, who are consistent and who do the simple things right are the ones who see the results within 6-12 weeks. This gives you another 3 months to focus more on your final performance whilst maintaining your strength and conditioning.
Why do I need this extra training?
Its possible that you may already be using this extra hour for more dance practices, and that’s great! But here is the problem I have with this… there are some things you cannot fix by practising your steps, you can only fix from other programming.
Let me give you an example… Lets talk about hip flexion (lifting your legs high in front) because many dancers struggle to perfect this movement. Common errors include knee flexion (bending the knee), not be able to lift the leg(s) high enough, compensation by leaning forward with their upper body which affects posture, knee flexion on the opposite leg etc. It does not matter how many times you try to perfect this movement when dancing, you will not fix this problem until you find the cause of the problem and then program and follow that program to fix it. This error usually occurs because you have a flexibility issue, and you usually have a flexibility issue if there is a muscle imbalance. If you don’t have a flexibility issue but still struggle then you have a muscular strength issue. Either way, you cannot fix these issues by dancing extra. You must follow an effective program, suitable for you, to target and resolve these issues.
So… find the time, plan, prioritise!
Thank you for reading.
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Your head coach, author & therapist