It's winter time and you have a bunch of time on your hand because, well, it's winter. In the fall, you had all kinds of awesome plans for how you'd kick your practice into high gear. But then you find that your motivation and willpower has has gone out the window and you haven't practiced in... who knows how long? Or you've been practicing real good for a while and then the Holidays happened and you got off the proverbial bandwagon and have a hard jumping back on it. Or you never got on it. Whatever may be the case, so you're having issues practicing?
Let me just say that it happens to all of us... or at least most of us. It's just normal. So you're not alone. The key is finding ways to get you practicing. This is what this series of blogs will be about: giving some tips and tricks to help with your practice.
First off, though, I want first to debunk a few things about practice.
Debunking the willpower myth
I've heard the line "I have no willpower" from a lot of folks for a number of things that they wish they would do. If I learned one thing from losing weight, it's that it's really not about willpower but about habits... and then out of those better habits will come your will to resist temptations. In the case of practicing, temptations abound in the form of a lame TV show that you somehow feel you need to watch, looking at everyone's updates on Facebook or other social media, or whatever has been keeping you from practicing.
Again pulling from my time losing weight, when people wield the "no willpower" card, it seems like they believe that willpower is a magical wand that will suddenly make everything better and easier. So here's the truth: there is no magic wand. There's really only planning and habits. More on that in the next blog entry (coming soon).
Debunking the length of practice time
I've been guilty of that myself but I've sometimes been reluctant to practice if it's for a short period of time. We have these grand ideas of practicing where we'd like to think that we could practice for hours every day... but then the reality hits you and you don't have all these hours of time or have just a limited amount of time and figure out that there's no point in even practicing a little.
Honestly? There is literally no amount of time that is too short. For example, I've seen improvements by just doing a few isolations while cooking my eggs in the morning or doing shoulder rolls at work (which has the added benefit of relaxing my shoulders from all this typing I have to do). Or maybe an idea for a combo will come up and you'll try it in the kitchen... or the bathroom... or wherever. I call those micro-practices. While they aren't the only thing that you should rely on for improving your dance, they still serve useful purposes and even that is helpful.
One other thing to know is that you're better off practicing more frequently for shorter sessions than less frequently but longer sessions. Instead, most people believe that it's better to do, say, one practice session of an hour per week versus, say, 3-4 sessions of 30 minutes. If you do the math, it's clear that one yields more time overall for the week. But even if it was the same amount of time (e.g., 2 x 1 hour versus 4 x 30 minutes), the more frequently you practice, the better it is. I will put a caveat to that in an upcoming blog entry about being realistic about your schedule. That being said, if you can swing a longer practice session during your week, that can be beneficial since you'll be able to cover more material in your session and build your endurance and all that good stuff.