Obvious factors like age, hours of experience, genetics, and natural ability will separate a good dancer from a mediocre dancer. There is a noticeable difference when watching an amateur dancer versus a professional. So to help get you there, here are 10 hacks that can help you join the ranks of the good country dancers.
1. Put in the hours
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book entitled Outliers he claims that one needs 10,000 combined hours in a field in order to be the top expert level! That’s a lot of hours. But don’t worry, if you don’t have that kind of time to commit, because they say you can feel pretty proficient after 20 hours of practice. So get those feet pounding the floor boards. But make sure you are practicing with good habits because practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanence.
2. Know Country Music
Learn the different tempos and genres for the different country dances. Figure out who your favorite artists are. Dancing to music you like will increase your passion and enjoyment for dance ten fold. You should create playlists of your favorite country music to listen to while you drive and for practice.
See our list of the Top 10 Country Two Step Songs
3. Set a goal
Setting a goal is one of the best ways to improve your dancing! This can be a performance at a local bar or studio, or even a competition. Knowing you have a date and time where you have to perform in front of an audience will motivate you to practice harder and longer. Or it can be a simple goal like improve your spins by a certain date.
4. Practice and love drills
Take time during the week to work on one aspect at a time. Connection, spins, walks, and pivots are all great subjects to do drills…. and lots of them! Check out our video for tips on what to practice to create good connections.
TAKE ACTION> Download our video the #1 Drill to Improve your turns
5. Stop caring about what other people think!
This is not only true in country dancing, but in life as well. Don’t waste your mental space caring or thinking about what others think of you, your dancing, or your appearance. It is a hard thing to do, especially when you compete and literally get judged by others. But do it for the love of dance and not the recognition!
6. Get physically fit
It is obvious that if you are in better shape you will look and feel better dancing. Yoga, pilates, and weight lifting are great workouts to compliment your dancing. Find a trainer or take a class.
7. Be consistent
Create a practice schedule. Set dates in your calendar for when you plan to go out dancing. Have dancing be a habit instead of letting it happen when you happen to have free time.
8. Flexibility and Stretching
Range of motion is very important for both men and women in dancing. Always warm-up and cool down before and after dancing. You can stretch at home before you leave the house and again when you get home if you are going out dancing in a bar setting.
PNF stretching, or contract and release technique is the best way to gain flexibility without pain. Inhale while you contract your muscle in the stretched position, then exhale and relax the muscle and melt away the tension. You can also book a professional massage to help alleviate sore muscles. Epsom salt baths are also great for recovery after lots of training. You can also try stepping on a golf ball to roll out sore feet after dancing in boots for a few hours.
I personally love this youtube channel to help keep my injuries in check.
9. Watch videos online
Watch videos on Youtube for inspiration, choreography ideas, and technique tips. Sign up for a subscription to our country dance online website. It has tons of videos and blogs to help you on your dance journey. In addition, there is a great online community of friends to help you on your dance path. Click here to join the online learning subscription service in the comfort of your own home or studio.
And check out our sister website westcoastswingonline.com and sign up for a yearly membership. It is packed with tons of videos to help you improve your swing dancing!
TAKE ACTION> Get access to hundreds of country dance videos
10. The Learning Curve Isn’t Always Straight
Some practices will be diamond, some will be stone. You cannot expect that you will always be better than the day before. Sometimes you will dance better, sometimes you will dance worse. Accept that and don’t let it frustrate you. Analyze factors like diet, sleep, recovery and figure out what you can improve to help you grow your dancing!
Let us know in the comments below what your favorite dance hacks are!