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Mental Preparation
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How to get back into training after the summer break

After the rest and relaxation of a summer break, coming back to dance class can be tough. Even after just a few weeks off, it can feel like starting from scratch. Where did all that hard earned stamina go? Why aren’t kicks getting as high as they were? The Oireachtas is how close?! Before diving straight back in and pushing too hard too fast, it’s important to think about your plan.

Step one: Set a goal

“It can be overwhelming heading into the fall dance season with multiple feiseanna, the All-Ireland Championships, and the Oireachtas in front of you. Before beginning any training program, dancers should first set their goals for that year and season.” says Ellen Waller, Founder and Coach at Target Training Dance. Waller explains that goal setting is the key to kicking off a new dance season. “The initial step would be to set a long term goal then set a series of short term, targeted goals along the way that will help you achieve your long term goals. Use the acronym SMART to help guide your goal setting: S – specific, M – measurable, A – attainable, R – realistic, T – time based.”

Step two: Make a plan

Once you have set your goal and thought hard about what your focus will be for the upcoming dance season, it’s time to hit the floor. But where to start? “With regards to strength and conditioning training, you should begin with a preparatory period that establishes a base level of strength and prepares you for more dance-specific training ahead.” explains Waller. “The preparatory period includes high volume/low intensity, non-sport-specific, total-body workouts. Like your smaller, targeted goals, your overall training plan (a macrocycle = about 1 year) is broken down into shorter training cycles (mesocycles = 1-4 months & microcycles = 5-30 days) that prevent overtraining and optimize your performance by allowing you to peak at the right time.” What this means is that you won’t achieve your goal in your first week of training, and you shouldn’t expect to. Start by slowly building stamina, focusing on anaerobic training.

Step three: Stay focused

In two months time when you’re in the thick of Oireachtas training, having these goals written down can be a great reminder of why you are working so hard, and what you want the outcome of that work to be. Setting small, medium, and long term goals means you can break off chunks of your goal every week and stay focused, rather than one big pie in the sky goal e.g. setting a goal like ‘I want to nail the toe move in the second step of my hornpipe’ vs ‘win worlds’. As you tick small wins off each week, your bigger goals can feel more easily achievable. But you need to start somewhere.

How long was your summer break? Are you struggling to get back into the swing of things? Or are you in the southern hemisphere where it’s winter right now? Leave a comment, or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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