Competing In Competitions

4. Almost There: Hours Before The Competition

You've practiced for weeks and now your days or hours away from the event. Feeling nervous? You're not alone. In this section we will address feelings that can overcome you before and during a competition and focus on ways to control them and also look at what you can expect at the various types of competitions. (Registering, practice sessions, room & board, etc.)

Nervousness

The difference between a person that has entered two competitions compared to a person that's entered 20 competitions is their experience in dealing with nervousness. The more a person subjects themselves to situations that cause nervousness the better they become at dealing with it.

Nervousness is defined as an emotional reaction to stresses, whether they are good or bad. Examples other than competitions are an interview for a new job, first date with someone special, or visiting an unfamiliar place. Nervousness is typical of new situations and usually resolves on its own over time. Signs of nervousness are:

- A rapid heart rate
- Sweaty hands or dry mouth
- Lack of concentration
- Muscle pain
- Agitation
- Restlessness
- Dizziness or faintness
- Urge to urinate
- Upset stomach

Nervousness can also be the result of medical conditions but it will not be covered. There are three ways to minimize nervousness:

Practice
Breathing Control
Perception

Practice
The best way to deal with nervousness is to prepare for it before it happens. If you practiced your routines and patterns regularly before the competition it will prevent nervousness from occurring early before you reach the dance floor.

Breathing Control
When a person is overcome with nervousness their heart rate increases which usually results in shortness of breaths, and may lead to the other signs of nervousness. Our main focus would be on keeping our heart rate slow to control nervousness.

Cardiovascular workouts, in conjunction with your practice time, would work your body so that your heart rate is maintained at a particular level of intensity. The desired level of intensity will be about the same as playing football, soccer, or running. The goal is to train your body to be at an activity that is more intense than your dance routine. This would train the body so that your routine is easy to do with little effort, because it's used to working at something that is harder.

So how do you know that you are working at the right intensity? First, you'll need to find out what your maximum heart beat is. Your MAx heart beat rate is the number of beats your heart makes per minute, at full effort. There are charts available on the internet if you search for "my maximum heart rate" if you need assistance. Depending on which expert you speak to, you should keep your heart rate anywhere from 60% - 80% of your maximum during your workout. A non-technical method would be gauging your workout as you're doing it. For your workout, within 10 minutes you should be sweating or you have difficulty completing sentences out loud.

Be aware that when anxiety and/or nervousness occur(s) it causes your breathing to be shallow and rapid. When this happens take deep breaths and exhales. You'll be surprised at how quickly this will calm you down.

Perception
It's common for people to perceive what could happen when they are dancing (tripping, falling, looking stupid, etc.) but it is unlikely any would happen. This negative perception can be strong enough that it causes nervousness. To deal with this, visualize yourself doing the routines regularly and preparing and entering the events before the actual day. This will mentally prepare you by simulating the feelings you would feel so you can prepare yourself mentally beforehand.

Where Competitions Are Held

Competitions can be held in 3 different settings: night club, dance sport/dance studio, or convention room/center. The level of organization will likely determine how important it is to register.

Night Clubs - Competitions are typically held late in the evening and with multiple couples dancing at one time. If room permits, couples are permitted to execute non-social moves and patterns. Winning couple(s) are judged by crowd majority. Registration may be involved or none at all. If there is no registration required, the MC would make an announcement that the competition is commencing and have all couples competing to enter the dance floor. Open format competitions are typically used and advertisements are usually only local. Unless it is a widely publicized competition, no entry fees would be required. Larger clubs, like Roccapulco in San Francisco or The Mayan in Los Angeles, will typically hold major competitions once or twice of year. For these competitions registration will always be required.

Dance Sport / Dance Studio - These have the capacity to hold large amounts of people and can host organized dance competitions. Events may run all day. If room permits, couples are permitted to execute non-social moves and patterns. Couples are judged by a panel of judges. Registration & entry fees for each event entered are typical. Announcements for each event are usually listed and announced by an MC at the appropriate time. Depending on the number of entries each event may have an open and/or showcase format. These competitions will typically be advertised weeks in advance and done either local or widely. Practice areas are designated and times specified. Examples of locations are the Metronome in San Francisco or the Cardinal Classic at Stanford University.

Convention - These have the capacity to hold large amounts of people and can host organized dance competitions. Events will run all day and over the course of a few days. Couples are permitted to execute non-social moves and patterns in the appropriate events. Couples are judged by a panel of judges. A Registration & entry fee for each event is expected with deadlines. The competitions will require you to purchase a pass that gives access for the entire convention, and could range from $100 - $200 per person. An identification (wrist band, badge, pin, etc.) that indicates your level of access will be required at all times. Announcements for each event are usually listed and announced by an MC at the appropriate time. Multiple locations/rooms will be available for different events. Depending on the number of entries each event may have an open and/or showcase format. Advertisements are done country wide and sometimes international also. Practice areas are designated and times specified. These events are usually held at major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, etc.

In the next guide we will discuss in detail how each type sets up its competition.

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