New Year, New Team Mates


The beauty of team sports, particularly all star dance and cheerleading, is its emphasis on TEAM WORK. Coaches work hard to encourage cohesion within the teams and we know that a team who gels, who is positive, and supports each other is just as (or more!) important as a team full of great athletes. This is a major reason why I prefer to work in All Star over studio dance. I love the team spirit and the skills it gives us for our every day lives.


After a long holiday break (during which many of you have probably hung out with some of your cheer and dance friends!) you will find that when you all arrive back at the gym, you will very quickly fall back into step with your team mates. It’s almost like you never left the gym or studio – that’s part of the bond that your training and performance experiences together creates!


I want to remind you though to think about the new girl or boy (For today’s blog my example will be a girl). In your team this year there might be a few, or there might be only one.Your ease with your team mates, playful mocking, inside jokes and sisterly love is amazing, but it can also be intimidating for that new kid. 


Just take a second to think of a new girl. Put yourself in her (probably brand new) cheer shoes.
Think about being at a party before the people you know arrive, or the feeling in your stomach on your first day of a new school. It’s tough! 
As someone who is comfortable in your team, and who treats the gym as a second home, YOU are the one with the power to make that girl’s introduction to the family a positive experience, and to set the example that your friends and team mates will follow.


It’s SO simple:


Introduce yourself.
This is your house. Be kind and break the ice, don’t leave it up to her. Don’t be afraid to be the first of your friends to approach the new girl, just do it and I promise they will all follow you.


Ask her about herself. 
Her name, has she danced before? Does she know anyone here? What school does she go to? It’s SO easy!


Compliment her. 
Ever been stressed, running late, feeling anxious or tired, and someone shoots you a “hey nice shoes” – it is just enough to lift your spirits. A tiny compliment can put a nervous person at ease, with minimal effort from you.


Remember her name.
Second lesson? A huge smile and a “Hi Sarah!” as she walks in will make her feel instantly more welcome.


Include her.
Show her where to put her bag next to yours, call her over in break, invite her to sit with you in warm up. Wriggling your way into a group of people who all know each other is hard. You will help her out SO much by just doing this. She might not even know the joke or what the conversation is about, (she will soon enough!) but she will be glad to be part of it. Soon it will be second nature to have her sitting there laughing along with you. 


Be patient.

She has never done his before. We alllllll had a first time, we all had nerves and shaky starts. Maybe she is experienced but doesn’t know the way your team warms up, or doesn’t know the routine, or even where the bathroom is. If you are patient and kind, she won’t feel embarrassed to ask for help and will pick everything up a whole lot faster. 


Photo: Shutterstock


There is a reason you are at this particular studio or gym and not the one down the road. You love you friends, your coaches, you feel happy and can be yourself at training. EVERYONE deserves a place and team that makes them feel like that! So share the love and open your circle to everyone who comes to give it a go. Not everyone will stay, but those who do will soon share your team’s bond. This culture of your club/studio and the vibe of every single class is up to YOU just as much as it’s up to your coach and teacher. 
Before you know it it will feel like they have been there the whole time. 


To the new kid: Hang in there, cut yourself some slack if you don’t get it the first time, or don’t fit in right away. Try to be open to giving new things a try. Persist if you can, have a positive attitude, and trust me – you will love it. 


Wishing an amazing 2018 to dancers and cheerleaders everywhere!


Brittany xx

Holiday Hacks – hit 2018 with a headstart!

Congratulations dancers, teachers/coaches and dance parents on another year done and dusted! Competitions, performances and just week to week classes – we are all SO ready for this break!
Heading back into the studio after 6 weeks off can be a little daunting though, especially if you have spent the whole time in holiday mode. Muscles feel squishy, or brains are a little foggy, and many of us take a few weeks before we are back in the swing of things.

So how can we make sure we walk into the studio ready to smash 2018 right from day 1? Check out the tips below which will keep you in shape… without interrupting your holiday and chill out time





Come on guys. Just do it. You already know what that first week back is like, and you don’t want a week of barely being able to walk! People always seem to think stretching will be time consuming but its truly not! Set aside just 10 min per day just to maintain where you currently are. Even if you don’t increase flexibility over the break, you have worked too hard all year to lose it now! So its just about keeping what you have! If you spent all year planting flowers and getting a garden to grow, you wouldn’t just let it die over the holidays would you? Not when all you need to do is take a few minutes to water it each day. Your body is the same!

A tip? When watching a TV show just stretch in the ad breaks! Stretch when you are on your phone, or when you are relaxing by the pool, or when winding down before bed.
The key? Even if it’s not for long, you do need to do it every day. Other wise there is no point. It’s like only flossing the night before you go to the dentist: Trust me if you leave it til the night before, the professionals can always tell.


image: shutterstock

Stay active

This is easier than it sounds. You don’t need to be going to a gym or going crazy, just stay moving wherever you can. Play backyard sports with friends and family, go bushwalking, bike riding, swimming. Why not organise a fun day with your friends and have relay races or team fitness games in your local park? This is not working out instead of having fun. It’s just keeping active while you’re having fun! There are plenty of ways to stay moving without it being a chore. In Australia we have daylight savings now which is awesome for evening walks. Again you don’t need to push yourself or try to become more fit; this is about maintaining all the fitness you have gained over the year in class. After an awesome year of getting stronger and stronger, you don’t want it all to be a waste just because you spent the holidays being a couch potato! In that first lesson back, coaches always know who stayed active during the break. And if it wasn’t you, you will be able to tell the difference too – and not in a good way!





Wherever/whenever you can! Go to holiday clinics/classes/open gym. If your coach offers holiday privates, try to book in. You may even be able to share with a friends to keep the cost down. Some gym’s have dance style group fitness classes like ‘Body Jam’ that are fun for something different. If you aren’t able to take any classes in the holidays? Get your friends together for a dance day! Stretch and practice skills together, you can even choreograph your own routines together! Even if you can’t get together with your friends, get your earphones in and dance around your room – even that counts! If it is keeping your body dancing and keeping you in the dance frame of mind (thinking about technique or at least creating/remembering combos), it will make you that little bit less rusty when you come back, and that’s definitely a good thing!


image: shutterstock

Set Goals.

Goal-setting is SO valuable! The most simple way to do it is to write a list. Keep it short and very clear. Exactly what do you want to achieve? These goals are 100% up to you, no one else needs to know and they don’t need to be the same as anyone else’s. Split your list into short and long term. What do you want to achieve by the end of Term 1? And what do you want to achieve by the end of the year?

Examples of good goals:

  • Get my back hand spring (any skills like a tumbling skill or a specific leap or pirouette is a very clear goal)
  • Improve my balance in my pirouettes (not just your balance – be as specific as you can. On what skill? Why?)
  • Improve my fitness and stamina (pick one area to work on like: fitness, flexibility, strength, balance, turnout etc.)
  • Be more outspoken in class (Or maybe yours is to not talk so much in class! Goals don’t all have to be physical, they can be about you as a person. Maybe you want to make an effort to talk to more people in your class, include more people not just your best friends, be a better role model to the younger students, or to be more organised so you don’t always forget your tap shoes this year. All of these things are awesome goals too!)


Put this list in your diary/planner or on the wall of your room, somewhere you can see it often so you will keep the goals in mind and hold yourself accountable. Starting your year with very clear intentions will make a world of difference to your focus. The next step is to make an action plan for each goal. A goal is great but what are you going to do to achieve it?? If you are stuck, chat wih your coach/teacher about your goal and see what their advice is. They can help you with tips for during class and at home.

(Shameless plug: To step your goal-setting game up a notch, you can purchase a custom Athlete Progress Journal, please contact me through Letters from A Dance Coach on  facebook to order)




Holiday – in moderation!

Holidays are a time when the rules can relax a little. Bed time is not so strict, healthy eating is definitely not so strict (especially around christmas time!) and we get to enjoy plenty of laziness and treating ourselves without training, homework or school to worry about. ENJOY all the things that come with holidays, you have earnt it! But the magic word: MODERATION!! 

OF COURSE on christmas day you can eat lollies and a big feast and gingerbread and ice cream – it’s christmas! But maybe we don’t eat that much every day. Maybe little treats here and there are still fun. Of course you have earned your chill out time to relax! But maybe sitting down on your ipad every day is not the best way to look after your awesome healthy body. No school to wake up early for? Of course you can stay up later and watch movies with your friends, but maybe not every night or you will end up too tired and your body clock will be crazy! 

It comes down to looking after yourself, and being kind to yourself. It might seem great to be lazy, stay inside on the couch, stay up late, never drink water, and have lollies for lunch every day BUT if it is making your brain and body tired, lazy and out of shape that is not being kind to the amazing body that you have. You will regret it in February when you are puffed out just from climbing the stairs to the studio, before class has even started!


Remember: EVERYTHING IN MODERATION – this really means everything, even your exercise and stretching! So this holidays, have fun, relax and treat yourself, but make sure give your body some love when you can too – you will be very glad you did!


Happy New Year and THANK YOU for reading my first few blog posts! See you all again when Term 1 begins!

Brittany xx


3 Reasons Your Teacher or Coach Could be “Picking on You”


Congratulations! If you are reading this, it might be because you think your coach/instructor/teacher is “picking on you”.  Do you feel like you are always being corrected, or like your coach calls your name allllll the time in class, or that they are on your back every lesson? They probably are. And here’s a quick breakdown of why its actually a positive thing.




1. You are capable!

Your coach will simply not waste their time and energy telling you over and over to do something if they know you can’t do it. Trust me. If you are being corrected or told to do a particular thing it’s because your coach knows that you can physically do it! Dance and cheerleading are not sports for dummies. You really do need to be intelligent to do well. Hearing a correction /note and having the ability to make your body do what it is being asked to do is not easy, and it is not a skill everyone has! Complex notes are given to the students who are smart enough to put them into action. If we see something that’s not quite right but we know it is the absolute best you can do, or that you aren’t physically or mentally up to doing better than that, you won’t be called out. It’s as simple as that. 

Your teacher can also get annoyed and frustrated (and yes, a little loud) when they see potential in you and know that you are capable of doing better. One of the most frustrating things for a coach in any sport is trying to help an athlete who is not reaching the potential they have! If you are being corrected it’s because we know you can do better! So take the corrections and notes as a positive that your teacher sees potential, intelligence, and capability in you!





2. You are NOT the dancer next to you.

Another reminder of the cheezy saying “Everyone is different” But it is TRUE! You are not the dancer standing next to you. The best coaches of any sport know this, and are able to not only coach a whole team at once, but address and teach each individual in the way that suits their needs. One dancer might get a lot of positivity and ‘coddling’ while her friend gets a stricter, more hard lined approach. Particularly in younger teams this is common as teachers know which approach gets the best out out each student.

So, let’s look at an example. You are leaping from the corner and the first dancer is not perfect but the teacher simply says “good job Sally!” Then you take your turn and give much more technically correct leaps – yet instead of “good job”you hear “Longer back leg Suzie!! Softer hands!!!” HUH!? Why are you corrected and not Sally??


Do not. Worry. About Sally. Because you are not the same as her. She is doing her thing and you are doing yours, it does not matter if you are ‘better’ than another dancer or if you are ‘worse’. Your notes don’t come from comparing you to the others, they are notes for you. Just for you. This lesson will serve you well throughout the rest of your dance career – and life!





3. Your teacher cares. 

Mushy ending point, but again, it’s true! You know this. If we didn’t care about you, your future, about you reaching your potential or feeling rewarded and proud of yourself – we would not persist. And when we get frustrated or raise our voices or get emotional, it is because we care! You won’t get much of a reaction from someone who just wants to have a nice night, get paid, and who doesn’t really mind whether you improve or not.

Please remember how much you as an individual person are valued by your coach. We spend a loooot of time working with you, tracking your growth, thinking about the best ways to teach you and how to bring out the best in you, strengthening you flaws and celebrating your improvements with you. We talk about you to your other teachers, we get to know your personality and what makes you tick. We go home after class and wonder what else we could do to help you. Yes, specifically YOU!  Please don’t forget how much you mean to your teacher or coach, and try to take that cranky correction or frustrated note as the display of love it really is.






Food for thought:

Are you coming to class to have someone sit and watch you dance? Or are you being coached? A class where your name is not mentioned at all, is not a good class. Whether it is a positive comment or a constructive one (or in a really great class, it will be a mix of both types of comments) your teacher is paying attention to you. They aren’t zoning out wondering what to cook for dinner when they get home. They are actively watching you and are engaged with what you’re doing. When you think of it this way, maybe you do have a pretty great coach after all.






A last note on negativity:

In this blog post use the term “picking on” because it is something young athletes say. “Miss Such-and-such picks on me” refers to the teacher always calling them out or correcting them. Comments from a teacher can get absolutely loud or passionate when we are frustrated, and yes we do yell (either to be heard over to music or just to get a response from you; we keep the energy way up high as much as possible!) and I won’t pretend that we don’t get fired up from time to time. HOWEVER corrections should never be mean-spirited or insulting. All dancers/athletes need a thick skin as they are constantly being corrected. Corrected. Bullying is different. Please make sure you know the difference and know what the intention is behind your coach’s comments. Is the intention to help you improve? Or is it to make you feel bad? If you feel like you are being bullied by anyone, a classmate, friend – or even a teacher – that is never OK and you need to speak to a parent or another teacher about it.





SO! Next time you’re in the studio, listen to the comments being made by your teacher or coach. Appreciate the intention behind the comment. And do you best to put it into action! Your coach already knows you can.


Happy Dancing!


Brittany xx