Goal Crushing Your Way Into 2016: 3 Easy Steps

The excitement of “New Year’s resolutions” is buzzing once again and as a coach I personally milk it for all it’s worth. January is a great time to reassess the goals your team (hopefully!) set at the beginning of the season. If goal-setting got swept under the chaos of tryouts and then choreography, now is the time to do it!

Here are my 3 easy steps for goal crushing your way into 2016:

1. Re-evaluate what you already have, both team and individual goals.

How are we looking? What progress has been made? Often times at the beginning of the season we set big, faraway goals like “placing at so-and-so competition” or “having whole-squad triple pirouettes by first competition”. These are great but they require some serious Action Steps, which tend to fall by the wayside as the season rolls on, or never even exist to begin with. Identify all necessary Action Steps! That is, what needs to happen to achieve each goal.

2. Enter, 30 Day Challenges!

My Goal Tracking worksheet. Click to download your free copy!

The goal tracking worksheet that I use. Click to download your free printable copy!

My absolute favorite way to turn Action Steps on paper into actual action, which equals real in-the-studio results. This is where the magic happens (because magic is actually hard work, duh)! It’s exactly what it sounds like – you set your dancers a challenge and they have to do it at home every day for 30 days. Have them track their progress both on a chart (like the one on the right) and by filming themselves.

The key is setting the right challenges, they need to be effective. There can be benefits to setting a “whole team” challenge, however I find results come much faster when each dancer is working on their own individual needs. If Sally is struggling to turn her pirouettes into triples (her goal), she’s probably having trouble holding form. So one of her Action Steps is likely “increase core strength for balance and control”. A perfect 30 Day Challenge for Sally that will check this Action Step off her list is 10 Minute Ab Workout – once a day for 30 days. That’s just one example, the possibilities are endless!

To make all of this easier, CLICK HERE to download a free copy of my goal tracking worksheet (or click on the photo above). Save and print as many times as you like.

3. Daily Goals!

Or more accurately, every practice. Some of our dancers we see 2 or 3+ times per week, dance practice becomes a second home. Which is great – but sometimes that familiarity gets in the way of productivity. Having your dancers set Daily Goals for themselves gives every practice a sense of purpose.

Daily Goals need to be 3 things – small, achievable, and not about dancing. We already have a whole list of dance-related goals for the season. This is more about keeping your dancers mentally healthy, keeping morale up, and re-focusing energy when needed. Some examples of Daily Goals are:

  • I will be on time for practice with all attire that I need
  • I am going to give 100% effort
  • I will get through the whole practice without Coach having to ask me to stop talking

I like to have blank notecards and markers in the lobby that the girls fill out first thing when they arrive and then post on our big pinboard just inside the studio as they enter for practice. On their way out they take them down for quick reflection. You can have them keep the cards in a journal or scrapbook, either at home or in the studio, so they can look back and track their progress every few weeks. Daily Goals don’t have to be fancy – sticky notes on the mirror or wall work just fine!

Happy 2016! Go forth and crush your goals.

3 Games To Make Routine Cleaning Fun

When it comes to routine cleaning there’s no doubt that repetition and drill, drill, drill is the most effective method. But sometimes when morale is waning and dancers are deflating, you need to mix it up a little to reignite the team’s energy and enthusiasm!

Here are 3 games I like to use to make routine cleaning fun:


“No cell phones at dance practice.” This is a great rule 99% of the time! But this game allows dancers to use their smart phones and that in itself gets them excited and responsive.

Split your dancers into two groups. One group will be the “stars” while the other are the “paparazzi”. The “stars” dance the routine full out. The “paparazzi” sit out and take photos of the routine. I usually ask them to take around 10 snapshots throughout the routine – it makes them think about which parts they want to photograph rather than just snapping away aimlessly. When the routine is over the team come together for a few minutes to analyze the photos. If you have a large team each “paparazzi” can choose just one or two photos to share.

Then have the groups switch roles and run the routine again! Dancers always work harder when they’re on camera and these snapshots are great for highlighting things like lazy feet, blank faces, and of course synchronization issues.


Stoughton High School from Stoughton, WI


This one is nice and simple and especially good for polishing specific elements of the routine that need work, such as facials or pointed toes.

Run the routine full out from start to finish. When a dancer does something wrong, they have to stop dancing and sit the rest of the routine out. This keeps going until there is one dancer “left standing” or the routine is finished.

It may seem counterintuitive to have dancers sitting out, especially the ones who are making mistakes, but you’ll be surprised how hard they work to stay in and be one of the dancers who get to finish the routine!


Break your routine into 4 sections (roughly 30-40 seconds long) and give each section a number. Write these numbers on little pieces of paper (one on each) that will act as lottery tickets and place them all in a hat. You’ll want the same amount of lottery tickets as dancers, with the routine sections divided evenly between the tickets. For example, a team of 20 would have 5 x “1” tickets, 5 x “2” tickets, 5 x “3” tickets and 5 x “4” tickets.

Then have your dancers pick a number out of the hat and that will be the section of the routine they dance full out in the next run through. I like to make them keep their numbers secret so there’s an element of surprise during the routine – for them that’s the fun part! For you it shines a spotlight on who does and doesn’t know the choreography. During the other sections not on their ticket they can relax and watch the girls who are dancing. I like to have them still moving through the formations but their main focus should be looking around to see who has begun dancing full out and watching them closely. Having their teammates eyes on them from potentially all angles is what pushes them to perform that little bit harder.

To up the ante you can have dancers pull 2 or more tickets from the hat at a time, meaning they’ll be dancing more of the routine full out. I also like to throw in 2 or 3 “JACKPOT” tickets each time that indicate those girls will dance the whole routine full out. It’s fun to watch the team identify the “jackpot winners” and cheer them on.

How do you shake up your routine cleaning process?

5 Master Tips for Perfecting Toe Touches

North Dakota State University from Fargo, ND

North Dakota State University from Fargo, ND

You’ve heard all the usuals before – point your toes, keep your back straight, strong arms – but here are 5 easy-to-miss tips for perfecting toe touches!

1) Jump through your toes. Lots of dancers have a habit of releasing their toes from the floor during their prep and then jumping from the balls of their feet. This limits your height so be sure to check that you’re jumping (and landing) through your toes – they should be the last thing to leave the floor on the way up and the first to return on the way down!

2) Snap down. You should be snapping your legs up to hit your toe touch but don’t forget to snap down as well. How you come out of the skill is just as important as how you get into it! Remembering to snap your legs down after you hit the top of your jump will make the skill stronger, cleaner and sharper.

3) Look up. Keeping a spot above eye-level throughout the skill will help you maintain a nice straight back and we want to see your face not the top of your head.

4) Turn out from your hips. You want to prep and land parallel but make sure you’re rotating from your hips while on the way up so that you’re fully turned out at the top of the jump. Turning out from the hips gives your legs a much greater range of motion and will also help to keep your back straight. If you have a habit of sticking your bottom out behind you in your toe touches you’re probably not turning out from your hips – problem solved!

5) Engage your core. It’s easy to do this in your prep but remember to engage your core throughout the entire skill – prep, jump and landing. This will ensure that your toe touch is controlled and lowers the risk of injury.

Did you find these tips helpful?