Disclaimer: If you use read this article and don’t actually put these steps into action, they will do NOTHING! Taking action is what will create change.
Do you FREAK OUT or feel like you don’t dance your best on Feis day?!? I understand and I want to help!
Here are some reasons dancers say they get extra nervous on the day of a competition:
“I fell on stage after a move at the last feis and I’m afraid it will
“I watch other dancers warmup and think of how amazing they are and how I’m not as good.”
“I recently leveled up and feel like everyone is SO much better than me.”
Will ANY of these questions help you dance your absolute best? Or do they just instill fear and anxiety?! You will dance your best when you are filled excitement and positive thoughts that give you energy to perform, not bad thoughts that make you feel timid or overall unhappy on stage.
For me, I always had this fear that I would get on stage and forget my steps (it never actually happened) but I let it creep into my mind at every competition. Sure, I had done the steps hundreds of times without error, but I feared that somehow I would completely forget everything I knew once I stepped on stage. When I would tell my mom that I had this fear, she would remind me that it wouldn’t happen. So then my thoughts would go, “oh my gosh, she think doesn’t think it will happen so if it DOES happen, that’s even WORSE!” I was letting negative thoughts have a party in my head!
The little fears, worries, and doubts that creeeeep into our heads come competition time are called ANTs, Automatic Negative Thoughts. In actual dangerous situations these thoughts can be helpful to keep us safe, but at a feis they aren’t very helpful.
Here are some tips to help you CONQUER those Automatic Negative Thoughts!
1. Write down your thoughts! Right NOW grab a pen and paper and write down what you are thinking when nerves kick in before or at a competition. If you have no idea what you think about but just somehow feel sick or super nervous, bring a notebook to the next feis and write down your thoughts while they are happening.
2. Step back and think about your thoughts.
—>Are your thoughts rational?
Example: If your thought is “I haven’t practiced at all so my treble jig is going to be bad.” If you truly haven’t practiced, yes, that’s pretty rational. Dances get better with practice, so practice.
BUT if your thought is, “I’m going to fall on stage at every single feis because I fell at the last feis.” That is not rational. If you fell at one competition, it doesn’t mean you will always fall.
—>Will your thoughts help you dance your absolute best?
If so, keep them! If not, squash them!
—>Would your thoughts be something you’d tell a dance friend before they stepped on stage to dance?!? In other words…
Would you ever say: “Hey Friend, good luck, you can try today, but you miiiiight forget ALL of your steps on stage. And you will most likely fall since you did that once. Oh yeah, the other dancers in your competition are actually 12 million times better than you, so I think you somehow mistakenly got moved up.” ???
NO WAY! THAT WOULD BE TERRIBLE! So why on earth would you talk to yourself like that? Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend before stepping on stage!
3. Talk back to those ANTs! When those ANTs start crawling their way into your brain, talk back to them. Tell those ANTs that they are NOT true and that they are lying to you! The #1 ANT killer is replace those thoughts with other positive ones! Believe those positive can-do thoughts too!
Squashing ANTs takes practice! You CAN turn your competition anxiety into loving the experience, but it takes practice. If the ANTs take over once at a feis, try to squash them at the next one. Building strong mental habits takes persistence and time just as physical training does!