Countdown to CalOpen 2020: 3 Days – Cram Time

It’s hard to believe I competed only three weeks ago, and I’m about to do it again. I’m used to having months between competitions, so jumping from one competition to another in just a few weeks has felt hectic and a little crazy!

Part of the crazy feeling is simply that there has been so little time to improve on my last competitive performance. One role that competitions play is progress marker. They won’t work very well in that capacity if I don’t give myself enough time in between each event to work on my dancing at a deeper level than doing rounds. It’s the same reason why other competitive sports have off seasons – so competitors have time to completely focus on training without the added pressure of preparing for the next event. Then when the competitive season starts, the focus changes.

Competitive ballroom dance, at least in the States, is different. You could compete every week if you had the desire, time, energy and money to do so. There is no off season or on season. So if you’re lucky enough to be competing regularly, you have to plan your own “off season” to give yourself time to focus on training and recovery.

This pace isn’t the new normal for me. After CalOpen, I have about seven weeks until I head north to the San Francisco Open, which still feels a little quick but not as bad as three weeks. After that, I will have several months before I compete again. I admit, I kinda want to compete at Emerald Ball too, but financially, it’s not possible, and physically/mentally, probably not wise. One can still fantasize!

With only a few days left until CalOpen, I’m still cramming what training I can into my brain and body, so I don’t feel like this comp is just a repeat of the last one. Today, for example, I attended a Smooth dance camp at my studio. They hold these camps a few times a year and they are always incredibly valuable. You spend an entire day learning from masters. It’s exhausting and inspiring at the same time. See this blog post on reasons to attend one if you get the chance.

I don’t expect to be able to incorporate much of what I learned today into my dancing on Wednesday, but it was really helpful to hear some of the concepts Teacher has discussed with me brought back to the forefront of my mind. Just bringing that heightened awareness (or re-awareness?) to my dancing should result in an improved performance.

Really, that’s all I’m looking for each time I compete. I want to feel like some aspect of my dancing improved from the last event. Developing that improvement takes time. Even if I had the money to compete as often as I wanted, I would still spread my competitions out. Aside from the physical training, I also need time and space to mentally prepare before a competition and then recover after. A packed comp schedule would burn me out.

All of this chatter about more time…obviously, I wish I had a bit more time before CalOpen, but it’s here! So time to put the game face on.

I still have rounds with Teacher tomorrow, so we’ll get to test and see how much of today’s value actually sunk into my body. Tuesday, I’ll rest and prepare. Wednesday, we dance!

Honestly, it doesn’t feel real that I’m competing again in less than three days. I keep thinking I’m mixing the weeks up. Heat lists haven’t even been posted yet. But then I check the calendar, and yes, this is really happening!

What about you? If you had the money you needed to compete as often as you wanted, how often would that be? Would you be out there every couple weeks? Or are you more like me with a process around competitions that takes much longer to cycle through before a new one can start?

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