To Be The Most Prepared For Contest
by Joyce E. Pennington
PREPARATION-- Have a special "run through" at home before
you depart for contest. Practice entering from both sides of the performance floor in case
that your entry point may change. Do a taped critique for your team or have a local
director come in for a "trade out" to critique each other's teams before
GOALS-- Sit down with your team for a question and answer time prior to the first
contest to answer questions they might have. This can set aside any anxiety or confusion
about the contest day itself and allow them to concentrate totally on their own personal
performance. Set the goals together that you want them to achieve. Never confuse
"winning" with the positive experience you want them to have. Teach them to win
joyously and to lose gracefully. Remember that you are only there to get the objective
opinions of the judges and do not always expect to agree with them. With such a variety of
philosophies in the dance/drill team world, it is important to take in the feedback from
everyone to build a stronger team. If they are not challenged, they will not learn.
SPACING-- At some contests, you may have the opportunity to spend a few minutes on the
floor for 'blocking' or 'spacing' of the routines. Do not confuse this for practice time
or memory work. The formations of each routine should be numbered and 'rehearsed' prior to
contest day so that if the time is allowed, you can take the floor and go through each of
your team routine formations within the 5 minutes that you are allowed.
PARENTS-- Meet with your parents or send home a memo to them about the important
details of the contest (date, time, where to sit, admission price, wear team colors,
spirit signs, etc.). Never assume that they will automatically know these things. It would
also help if they had a copy of the goals you have set for your team as well as a copy of
the awards explanation for the contest attending. This way they can cheer louder to know
that the team has reached their goals and the meaning of their award.
DRESSING-- Expect to have VERY LITTLE SPACE FOR DRESSING!!! Let's face it:
If the contest is located at an arena or coliseum, you can be assured that your dressing
space will be limited so plan accordingly. This does not mean that the space can be
hoarded by the first team that arrives. Show good sportsmanship and only use the dressing
room when you are changing. Take your team and their belongings back out to the arena to
observe and learn from other teams.
It is imperative to have a good quality tape recording to get the best
results from the sound system at contest. The quality and dynamics of the tape can
determine the energy level that your team produces. Never use your performance tape for
practice as it can stretch or damage the tape. Never practice at a contest site in the
hallways as the sound carries into the performance area itself. By the time you arrive at
contest, your team should be prepared for their routines.
Type out an itinerary for the day so that each
participant knows where to be, when, and what to wear. Your new members will especially
need to have everything spelled out for them to lessen their fears. If you have several
days planned for your team, it will be even more important to let them know the activities
that will take place. Type out a checklist for the items to bring with them to contest. A
forgotten costume can destroy the day for you and the team.
Make sure that you have assigned someone to take photographs or slides of
the contest including a group photo at the end with their awards. These will preserve
valuable memories for their banquet or spring show.
DEPARTURE--Have the managers or assigned parents go back to check the dressing area for
items that may have been left behind and to pick up all trash left by your group.
Don't forget that contest should be fun for everyone. Make sure that your
nerves are in check so that your stress doesn't spread to the rest of the group. Make
contest a motivating experience, not a dreadful one! Plan to have a pizza party, tour an
amusement park, go shopping, have ice cream sundae's or some kind of enjoyable activities
for your team.