Every competitor hopes to do better in every competition. Regular competitors often get an idea of where they will likely place, especially when on the floor with couples who are often in the same heats. With all of that said, most of us have either had the experience, or seen the look of shock on the faces of a couple, when a surprise result is called.
Often the surprise has less to do with skill than with other factors. Consider these 5 reasons why you might get a surprise competition result.
1. When you want to do well, just a bit too much.
Perhaps you may have placed unexpectedly higher in a previous competition and feel driven to do so again. Or you may have trained especially hard before this competition. Whatever the reason, it is not uncommon to want to do particularly well in a particular competition, and put a lot of pressure on yourself to do so.
The risk: Your adrenaline may be so high that it starts to hurt your performance. You may also over emphasize moves to the point where you look broken, over power your partner to the point that you are no longer in sync, or try variations that you have not practiced enough.
The solution: Recognize that this is a common risk. When adrenaline runs high, take some time before the critical heats to run through your moves in your mind, thinking of executing them slowly and effortlessly. Also take a look at our article on mental focus for more on this.
When feelings tense, it is also a good idea to pay more attention to your partner and focus on making them feel comfortable. This has the wonderful dual benefit of taking you outside of your own thoughts and pressures, and also putting your partner in a better place.
2. Not actually dancing much in your routines
Many open level competitors are tempted to put a lot of tricks in their choreography. This is especially true for competitors who are particularly athletic or flexible, and want to showcase their abilities in the hopes of standing out.
The risk: Having too many tricks and not enough dancing is counter productive. An adjudicator will have a hard time marking you on your dancing if there is very little of it in your routine. Every routine should showcase the character of the dance first and foremost, and your mastery of its technique. If you do not show this, it is like taking an exam and not answering the questions.
The solution: Truly showcase your unique abilities and choreographic skill by adding tricks as highlights. Too many highlights are actually blinding, and mask the value of each one.
3. Not practicing the things you are good at
You need practice to maintain skills as much as to improve them. It is very tempting, especially when learning something new, to not pay attention to your foundation.
The risk: Glossing over the easy parts, your older routines or the basic points of technique that you are familiar with, will cause the quality your dancing to decline over time.
The solution: Respect every part of your dance, every routine and every step. If you stumble on basics, it will be hard for you to claim the position of a champion.
4. Poor dance etiquette
So many competitors have similar levels of skill. Often the differentiating factor is the couple who is the best overall example of a champion. Poor dance etiquette will threaten this.
The risk: Intimidating others with aggressive floor craft is more obvious than you may think. Lack of courtesy to your partner and other dancers just makes anyone viewing you feel uncomfortable. The same is true for poor sportsmanship.
The solution: Redirect your energy to things that are more productive. Think of the ranking in results as a view of the couples who best represent all around excellence in our beautiful and challenging sport. Technical excellence, musicality and presentation are part of it, but dancesport is also a sport that engages an audience. Think of what you want and expect to see in a champion and you will also understand the importance of courtesy and poise.
5. Being over confident
If you always win, it is tempting to think that you always will. Nothing could be further from the truth. As well. some excellent competitors have missed the finals by taking early rounds too much for granted.
The risk: Every couple works hard to prepare for competition, and the level of excellence in dancing, as in other sports, tends to rise higher over time. You truly never know how your competition will perform. Feeling over confident can also have the effect of making you look bored or fake in your emotion. This will never help any result.
The solution: Consider each and every dance as privilege. You have the health, skill and the opportunity to do what you love. That is awesome! So many people do not. You would not have become a competitor if you did not love to dance. Every competition is your opportunity to show your passion, inspire others and experience the pleasure of dancing in a wonderful and exciting environment, with others who love dance too. Again, that is awesome! None of us should ever take any part of that for granted.