Competition and Audition Mindset Prep
by Ashley Mowrey
Hi, dancer! As we head into competition and audition season, it’s essential to think about our mindset. We do so much to train and prepare our bodies, but what about our minds?
Do you ever walk into a competition or audition and immediately feel pulled in a thousand different directions, struggling to focus because of so many pressures and expectations? If one thing goes “wrong” on the day of, do you find yourself spiraling and feeling stressed?
How about at the end when you feel so tired and over-stimulated that you don’t even know if you accomplished anything you wanted to? Or maybe you get stressed by being judged by others?
Mindset prep can help! When you start with the end in mind and clarify your vision and needs, you can be proactive and intentional about your experience and performance.
This exercise is from Coach Training World, and with permission, I’ve adapted it for dancers. Grab something to write with and a notebook, and let’s dive in. Educators, this is a great exercise to do with your whole team before competition, too!
Choose one competition or audition you have soon to focus on for this mindset prep exercise. In your notebook:
Describe your best-case scenario experience or vision for your competition/audition in a few sentences.
Next, write about what you want to learn through your competition/audition experience.
Last, write about, after it’s all over, what do you want to have accomplished?
Next, imagine yourself afterward, knowing you’ve fulfilled your vision. Step into this future, and act as if it’s already happened while you journal each of the following:
Close your eyes and imagine your desired outcome. Picture it vividly and in as much detail as possible. In your notebook, describe in detail what you see.
In this future, how do you feel emotionally? How about physically?
What are you saying to yourself in this future?
With your vision in mind, create a one-word or short phrase intention to be your guide for the competition/audition. This intention will serve as your compass to help you align with what’s important to you. Repeat it to yourself before, during, and after you dance. If you find yourself being swept up in others’ opinions or judgments, use this word to ground yourself.
To make that vision a reality, let’s look at your physical, and mental/emotional needs for the weekend. Describe how you want to physically feel and dance this weekend in your notebook. Then, ask yourself what you need to physically feel and dance as you described. List all that comes to mind. Then, star the ones that feel most important to you. Some examples include rest, sleep, hydration, snacks, adequate warm-up, etc.
Next, for all the needs you’ve starred, list any adjustments you will make throughout the day to get this need met. For example, if one of your physical needs is to adequately warm-up, an adjustment could be to go to bed 30 minutes earlier and wake up 30 minutes earlier, giving yourself time in the morning to warm up. Another adjustment could be to arrange to meet someone early for a warm-up, so you have an accountability buddy. Get creative and specific.
Now, repeat the same steps for emotional/mental needs. This could include time to yourself to decompress, validating your feelings and experiences, practicing self-compassion, or anything else you need to feel how you want to feel mentally and emotionally.
Lastly, how will you remember to implement this mindset prep at your competition or audition? This could mean bringing your notebook, setting reminders on your phone, telling someone about it, etc. You’ll also want to write out your intention and bring it with you as a reminder.
Here are a few more resources to prep your mindset for competition or audition:
You’ve got this, dancer! And if you want extra support for competition and audition season, I’m now offering Mindset Prep Coaching Sessions, designed to help you optimize your skills and performance through a healthy mindset. Click here for more info.
Ashley Mowrey is a Mindset Coach for dancers and dance educators, helping you calm the mind and body, cultivate self-confidence, and create inner strength. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Arkansas, is an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation, a Whole Person Certified Coach and Trauma-Informed Certified Coach through Coach Training World, a trained facilitator in Tara Mohr’s Playing Big Leadership Program, a specialist for Doctors for Dancers, and a blog contributor for Apolla Performance. Ashley has recently joined the faculty for a new convention, Embody Dance Conference. There she will lead workshops for all age groups, including parents and teachers, on mindset skills. She is also a Team Member of Dancer, 360, and a contributor to their upcoming book. Ashley trained as a competitive dancer out of Dallas, TX, before teaching and eventually directing a company and dance studio in Fayetteville, AR. During those years, she felt drawn towards the dancer’s mindset and the need for training and tools in the dance community to foster mental health and well-being. She sees clients in-person and via Zoom all over the country and travels (in-person and virtually) to studios for customized group workshops. Ashley has also been featured on the Pointe to Rise Podcast, Dance Studio Amplified Podcast (Ep. 14), Dance Boss University Mastermind guest presenter, and episode 58 of Dance Boss Podcast. Head to her website for more information or her Instagram for free tools and resources to help you build a healthy mindset to navigate the dance world at your best.