Monday, October 31, 2011
Practicing Effectively, or "Why Aren't I Getting Better?"
That depends. If you're working on trying to memorize choreo or getting a new move down, sure. But if you're trying to get better, then it's not enough. But you only have snatches of time throughout the day to practice, so how are you supposed to get better?
Every time you practice, you want to concentrate on improving. If you can only shimmy for a minute or two straight before exhaustion try adding on another 15, 20, or even 30 seconds. Each time, add on another few seconds as you build up. Or, if you don't have enough time to shimmy for five minutes straight, try making it more difficult. Use a fast song, go up on releve, or do circles around yourself. Every time you practice, make it more difficult for yourself.
The same is true for the more muscular moves, like taxeem or body waves. While it's harder to measure, you can still push yourself past your maximum. Every time you drop your hip for a taxeem, try to push it a little bit further. When you do chest lifts, strain a bit more to get that little bit of extra height. Even if you can't see it in the mirror, you'll be making slow and steady progress.
The most effective method for getting the most out of your practice, however, is tracking. You may not be able to track measurements such as repetitions, weights, or distances like you would with strength training, but you can track what you do. Every time you practice, write down what you did. Did you do shimmies? Hip circles? Go over choreo? Write it down, write what music you used if you're drilling, and mention how you felt. Did you use a faster song this time and felt like your hips were all over the place? Write it down.
Eventually, you can go back through your notebook or document and view your practices, and see how you get better with each one. Tracking also helps you figure out what you need to improve. Maybe you tried drilling to a faster song one week and couldn't keep up. If you write down the song and the drills, you'll be able to look back through your notes and figure out what to practice next.
So, next time you practice, try a few of these things, and watch yourself, slowly but surely, get better.