CAT | Scheduling/Planning
This is a follow up to my previous post: how to increase productivity at practice.
The first step towards making practices run by quickly and effectively is to eliminate all wasted time. Try these things:
1. Start early. Get practice over with. No one wants to practice on a Saturday afternoon! People generally prefer getting practice over on a Saturday morning so that they have time to do other things. If you practice after school, get straight to practice. Allow 15 minutes for everyone to change and get ready. Once fifteen minutes is up, start warming up immediately.
2. When you start practice, start for real! Don’t say that practice is starting at 2:00 when you don’t actually do anything until 2:30. When you say that it is time to practice, start moving and get going.
3. Plan practice. Have an agenda ready. Know exactly what needs to be worked on. You know how teachers sometimes have “lazy days” where they have no plan for their students so they show a video? Don’t be one of them. Be prepared with an agenda, and once practice starts, work on that agenda immediately.
4. No down time. I emphasized this in my previous post. Team members do get close and talkative, but that can happen outside of practice. Do not tolerate chatter, and make it stop before it gets too loud.
5. When you need to talk, everyone needs to listen. So, the team just finished doing the routine and you just saw some mistakes that need to be worked on. Immediately tell everyone what you saw, and how they can improve. Make sure that everyone is listening and not talking to each other. If you allow people to get up and get water and talk to one another, they stop listening and you lose the team’s focus. Tell them about their mistakes and get straight to fixing it.
6. Make a team decision on breaks. It is your choice whether or not you will permit breaks (usually these are about 5 minutes). For some teams, it seems to restore focus and after the break, people are ready to work again. For other teams, it just puts everyone in a talkative move and takes away the focus. Experiment with this, and see how it works out. Ask the team for a vote. Remember, though, that adding in a break is basically adding in a few extra minutes into practice. Naturally, with a break, you will leave practice a few minutes later than without one.
7. Do not tolerate tardiness. If everyone knows what time practice starts, then everyone should be there at that time and ready to warm up. Of course, every once in awhile, we forget or wake up late or other circumstances come up. If a team member is constantly showing up late to practice, have a talk with her. If the behavior continues, then she is not committed enough to be a part of the team.
8. Take notes on performances. Rather than having the team perform and stopping them whenever you see a mistake, just take notes on the things you see. If a certain angle needs work, jot it down and discuss it later. It is usually a better idea to take several notes and tell everyone about their mistakes when the time permits. When members keep stopping in the middle of the routine to listen to your comments, they don’t build endurance.
9. Find a way to get to formations quickly. If you don’t have a planned way to get into formation, it can take a long time. Getting into formation usually takes a few minutes when you are unsure about what to do. If possible, place tape on the floor so you know exactly where to go and don’t have to space yourselves out manually each time. Make sure everyone knows exactly where to go when you say get into “so and so” formation. If someone is confused or doesn’t know where to go, she is wasting precious time. By getting to formations quickly, you can save plenty of time each practice.
Implement these and see how much time you can save!
Here’s some tips about how to get the best out of practice in the least time.
Tip 1: Make sure that you’re not overpracticing. If you practice 24/7, you’ll just be tired, not motivated, and you may actually retrogress because of this. In general, practice for three days a week and two hours each session sounds about right. Don’t go crazy about practice. When I was on the drill team, one of our rivals at competition used to practice in the morning before competitions, and eight hours on Saturdays. That’s just overworking it. It’s unnecessary to do that to your team–and to yourself!
Tip 2: Don’t do any unnecessary practicing. Read about this in my article about endurance.
Tip 3: Come to practice prepared. If you are a leader and forgot to bring the music, or do not have clothing to practice in, then you have let the team down and already decreased the rate of productivity at practice. Bring everything and have it ready to go by the time practice starts. In the case that you don’t come to practice unprepared (which should rarely happen), don’t use it as an excuse to waste practice time. If you don’t have music, for instance, just count out the routine.
Tip 4: Don’t waste practice time. Start when you intend to, and not five minutes afterwards. Of course, part of having a team is bonding with one another, which results in sometimes talkative practices. Try to eliminate this by not having any “down-time”. By this, I mean keep working and don’t stop for a team talk. If team members are dancing, they are unable to talk to each other because they’re focused on dancing, so keep the focus, and don’t let it stray (and as a leader, don’t lose your focus, either!). If you are a captain or other team leader, remember that you are a model. If you initiate side conversations, then everyone else will. Be a role model, not a hypocrite. After reading this tip, you might think: “well, how will the members improve if I don’t stop them from dancing and tell them their mistakes?”. Well, here’s the answer: stop only when you absolutely have to, and don’t allow anything else to happen. Most practices work in a similar fashion–you do the routine, and when you’re done, you listen to what the coach has to say about your performance. But, usually the case is more like this: you do the routine, get a drink of water, talk to a friend . . . then go listen. Change that habit–eliminate the “down-time”. One drink of water per 1.5 hours is enough to keep you hydrated, unless some special circumstance calls for more. Practice should be like this: perform the routine, walk directly to the coach and her his/her opinion–no down-time. Of course, each team has a different practice method and might not run this way, but in general, your goal is to keep the water breaks and talking to a minimum.
Tip 5: Be happy, and in a good mood. This always makes things go faster because people are happy to get things done. Come to practice refreshed. If you had a bad day, pretend to start anew. Do not let any unimportant aspects of your personal life distract from your performance. Naturally, when everyone is happy, everyone tries harder. So keep up the good mood at practice!
This is just a start of my list. I will be updating this post later with more tips; I hope that these help your team!
I know I write about consistent schedules a lot, and I can’t stress how important it is!
Lots of dancers never have time for anything, and this is a somewhat true statement. Mostly the problem with scheduling is in high school, where it can sometimes be hard to find places to practice all the time (though this is only an excuse to not have practice–read Finding Places to Practice). With a consistent schedule, this won’t be the case. The reason that dancers don’t have the time for anything is because of inconsistency in their schedules. Dancers have problems finding jobs when they don’t know when they’re busy with dance! You can’t tell your manager that you are sometimes busy Mondays-Saturdays. Dancers also have hard times joining organizations as there is never a clear indication of when exactly they are busy. If you have an inconsistent schedule, you can never know if you’ll be able to make the club meetings after school on Monday. Why not keep your schedules consistent? Jobs and school are mostly consistent, right? Imagine your school starting at different times everyday, and your job also starting at different times everyday. It just doesn’t work out that way. When a dance schedule is inconsistent, there is almost no time for other activities besides school. I strongly encourage your team to keep a consistent schedule! It makes life so much easier.
If you do change to a consistent schedule (which I hope you do!), tell me about it! Leave a comment! Trust me, it will change your life, and you and your team will be much less stressed.
Lots of drill teams donâ€™t keep consistent schedules. Itâ€™s usually a completely random schedule, based on what facilities are available. For instance, if there are no areas for practice (pretty impossibleâ€“youâ€™ll see what I mean in Finding Places to Practice) then there will be no practice, or practice will be held at a different time (in the morning, for instance) or different day to accomodate. Of course thereâ€™s constant competition with other sports teams for school facilities such as the gym, but thatâ€™s not a valid excuse for not practicing.
By a consistent schedule, I basically mean a â€œclass scheduleâ€. Your first period class might be everyday, from 8-9am. This is how drill practices should be; for instance, Mondays to Thursdays, 2-4pm. No changes. Read How to Schedule Practices for more information about this method.
So hereâ€™s the six benefits of keeping a consistent schedule:
1. No surprises
No oneâ€™s going to come to school late and say, â€œbutâ€¦ I didnâ€™t know that school started at 8amâ€¦â€; likewise, no one will come to practice (or not come at all!) with this excuse. And no one is going to plan something at this time unless itâ€™s the last resort. The main reason for missing practice is not knowing when practice is. So, if someone knows exactly what days/hours practice are, then she can plan accordingly and schedule appointments whenever there isnâ€™t practice. So no surprises. No â€œI didnâ€™t knowâ€ excuses.
2. Happier members
No one likes having an inconsistent schedule. Itâ€™s like having your manager at work give you crappy hours! No one likes that. Itâ€™s just frustrating and hard to work with. If people know exactly when drill practice will be held, they will know when they are busy and when they are not. If someone asks me if Iâ€™m busy on May 15th and itâ€™s a month away and I have an inconsistent drill schedule, I wonâ€™t know. Iâ€™ll probably have to delay my answer on that question until the new schedule is released. And if this date is supposed to be for a project or other type of appointment, itâ€™ll probably be too late by the time I know. If, on the other hand, I do have a consistent drill schedule, then Iâ€™ll just have to know what day of the week May 15th is, and Iâ€™ll be able to give an answer on the spot. People are naturally happier when they know when things are happening. What if school started a different time everyday? Wouldnâ€™t that suck?! Same with drill. Keep it consistent!
3. Immediate notification of conflicts
If someone canâ€™t attend practice on a certain day (with a good excuse, of course!), then she can tell you right away. For instance, if a member planned a doctorâ€™s appointment on a Thursday three months away (because, well, her doctor is all booked and closed on Fridayâ€“or another acceptable excuse), she can notify you immediately. This way, you can decide whether itâ€™s worth it to cancel practice to accomodate one member; in addition, you can have time to think about this and plenty of time to notify the team. I was often afraid to tell my captain or coach that I had to miss practice because I would end up scheduling a doctorâ€™s appointment a month in advance, and a month later when the schedule came out, Iâ€™d realize that Iâ€™d be missing practice. Iâ€™d often be scolded with a â€œwhy did you schedule at such an inopportune time? Canâ€™t you change the appointment? Didnâ€™t you know that there would be practice that day?â€ Ugh. I didnâ€™t really like being confronted in this way. As youâ€™ve probably experienced, some events have to be planned a weeks or months in advance, and sometimes they just donâ€™t work out. Itâ€™s really frustrating dealing with this kind of situation, and this is mainly why people are scared to confront their coach and they end up procrastinating on it . . . until the event is tomorrow (and then you get scolded real bad . . . oops).
4. Less stress on others
By others, I mean family, rides, friends, your manager, etc. Families have to deal with drill schedules, too. Family events must be planned accordinglyâ€“if there is no consistent drill schedule, itâ€™s very hard to do this. The people that are responsible for bringing members back home also have to work around this. They can be busy people! Not a good idea to stress them out. Also, lots of drillers work (how else can you pay for that uniform?!). They might have managers that schedule their hours for them. If practice is inconsistent, itâ€™s hard for the manager to do this and hard for the member also. She canâ€™t tell her manager that sheâ€™s simply not available Mondays thru Thursdays from 2-4pm. If the drill schedule is inconsistent, sheâ€™s going to tell her manager something more like, â€œI might be busy on that Friday . . . I donâ€™t know how long though or if I even have practiceâ€. That doesnâ€™t impress your manager. Youâ€™ll probably get fired soon for not having enough time for that job! Itâ€™s always a good idea to keep consistent so thereâ€™s room to do other things, like work.
5. More room for other activities
An inconsistent drill schedule is very inconvenient. It basically makes sure that you donâ€™t miss school, and thatâ€™s it. It doesnâ€™t care if youâ€™ll miss an appointment, a piano lesson, a club meeting, or whatever else you do. Drill is time consuming, but it shouldnâ€™t take up all your time. Usually drill doesnâ€™t take up all your time, but with an inconsistent schedule, it blocks out all the room you have for other activities because of the random schedule. You canâ€™t plan to join the club thatâ€™s everyday after school on Friday because youâ€™re not sure if thereâ€™s practice and you can probably only attend half of the meetings. If you know exactly when there is practice, then you can add more room for other extracurricular activities. If, for instance, practices are Monday thru Thursday, you can know that Friday is okay for joining a club, scheduling lessons, volunteering, etc.
6. Happier coach/captains
You get to be happier, also! There will be less stress on people missing practice and not showing up because the schedule is not working for them.
Iâ€™m sure that once youâ€™ve tried the consistent schedule method, you wonâ€™t go back. Itâ€™s so much more convenient for everyone, including you. There is a clear sense of when youâ€™re busy and when youâ€™re not. No more, â€œhmm . . . is there practice? The schedule isnâ€™t out yet, so I donâ€™t know . . . â€œ. Itâ€™s a good feeling.
Comment and tell me how the consistent schedule is working for you!
Edit 2/25/07: Kerry–when you dance, do things one at a time. The counts come first. Dance with the counts, and don’t worry about smiling for now. Once you have practiced dancing with only the counts, you get used to it and don’t have to concentrate as hard on those counts. Now try adding the smiling.
When you create the routine, you need to make sure that itâ€™s challenging, interesting, appealing to the audience, etc. Thatâ€™s the obvious. You also have to make sure that it is capable of being 98% perfect.
A difficult routine is great, but a difficult routine performed poorly is just as bad as a boring routine. Challenge yourselfs with a difficult routine and make it as perfect as possible. Of course there is no such thing as 100% perfection, but if you want to succeed in competitions, youâ€™re going to need at least 90% perfection. If this is just not happening for your team, maybe itâ€™s because the routine is too difficult! Maybe the counts are too fast, the moves are too far apart to transition to, the music is too fast, etc. Simplify it and make the work easier on the team. If youâ€™ve read my other articles on choreography, you should know that you yourself must be capable of performing the routine with the music first. Sometimes people will create moves that they themselves canâ€™t even do! Practice first. Teachers donâ€™t teach things that they donâ€™t know; likewise, you shouldnâ€™t be teaching a routine that you have not practiced and perfected. Make sure 90% perfection is possible.
As for the routine itself, one way to make it fun, new, and interesting is to add your team memberâ€™s creativity to it. They can contribute to the choreography and make your life as a captain easier! In the end, make sure anyone who creates a section of the choreography gets credit for it in some way! After all, if you donâ€™t credit this person, youâ€™ve basically took credit for her work. Youâ€™ve learned this lesson at school already. Donâ€™t plagiarize.
The main reason choreography is so hard to perfect is because it is created without consideration to the pace of the music and the plausibility of the moves. Of course itâ€™s okay to first start off slow and speed the counts up to the music, but the instructorâ€™s responsibility is to perfect the choreography before she teaches it. If you canâ€™t do it, no one else can. Make sure you can do it, and make sure there are no extremely difficult, based-on-chance moves. These could be cartwheels or other risky moves. It usually leads to sloppiness anyway. Donâ€™t add something to the routine unless youâ€™re sure that everyone is capable of perfecting it (including yourself!).
Though I say to not add something that canâ€™t be perfected, I donâ€™t mean to make the routine boring and easy. Challenges are good, but extremely risky challenges like head-spinning just wonâ€™t work, unless everyone can do it. Make your routine as creative as possible, with unique transitions and a bit of everyoneâ€™s creativity in it.
Trying to get everyone to practice is tough! Drillers have their own lives outside of school and sometimes canâ€™t work around the schedule. Donâ€™t you wish you could freeze time?
So in the case that you canâ€™t freeze time, what can you do to get everyone to practice? Working with missing members is difficult, so here are some ways to work around this.
Remember, if you are a captain, your responsibility is to accomodate team members and work with them. Youâ€™re not better than them. Youâ€™re just leading them, and in order for this to happen, they must be able to attend!
Vote on practices. Ask your team members what the best days for practice are. Usually Sundays are already eliminated because many people have religious affiliations. But some people are busy every Wednesday with other important things. You canâ€™t stop them; these people have their own lives and drill should not interfere! Voting will eliminate skipping practices for periodic events, like meetings, Church, whatever people do. This allows team members to speak up for when they cannot be here. Remember: work with your team members. Instead of scolding them when they arenâ€™t here, create a schedule that will allow them to be here. Itâ€™s simple as that.
Keep practices consistent. Donâ€™t make the schedule random. After youâ€™ve voted and found out which days are okay for practice, find out which days you will practice. This should be a periodic schedule, like Every Monday to Thursday from 2:30 to 4:30 PM. Something like that. This way there are no random practices on days that people are busy. In additional, members will have a chance to join clubs and be involved in the school in other ways; in this example, Fridays are always free, so members can join clubs that are on Fridays.
No surprise practices. This goes with keeping practices consistent. Donâ€™t expect everyone to be at practice if you alert them the day before! Preferably, practices should be scheduled one month in advance. Two weeks is good enough, but itâ€™s the bare minimum. The earlier they know about practices, the more time they have to alert you about times that they cannot be here; consequently, you will have more time to reschedule or cancel and keep everyone at practice.
If an extra practice is necessary, VOTE! Again, itâ€™s not a team memberâ€™s fault if she canâ€™t be there. This way you know who can make it.
NEVER schedule before asking/voting. This is probably the biggest planning mistake there is, but people do it all the time! Just ask yourself why you would schedule something when you know someone canâ€™t make it? Without everyone, practice is almost a waste because one person is behind.
Be nice about it. If someone canâ€™t make it, ask why (nicely!). If this is a plausible excuse, then itâ€™s ok. Reschedule practice if there is time. Things like funerals or sickness come up unexpectedly. You canâ€™t expect a member to alert you two weeks in advance about this. Also, some appointments can only be made during practice time. Clinics usually close early and are closed on Fridays. Just ask the member to explain and use your own reasoning to see if this is okay. Smile. If youâ€™re angry about it, the then she will be also. This creates a negative team.
Make sure you show everyone the schedule. They canâ€™t be here if they donâ€™t know!
There is always someone that likes to be sick or have a headache every other day. In this case, you should talk with her. See if this is a plausible excuse or if she is simply trying to miss practice. Donâ€™t be afraid to kick her off the team; besides, the reason sheâ€™s always â€œsickâ€ is probably because she hates practice. These people pull your team behind.
Remember that bad scheduling leads to missing members and unproductive practices. Scolding your members for being absent leads to a negative team mood. So work with your team members to form a schedule!
My article about planning actual practice time might also be helpful.
Think every practice is for practicing formations? Wrong! If you get your formations right, then so what? Isnâ€™t there this judging category called execution? Showmanship? Oh yeahâ€¦
When youâ€™re planning practice, you have to leave room to practice everythingâ€“not just the formations part. And make sure you plan practices. Not five minutes before it starts, either. Plan ahead.
Planning is essential. At school, teachers have curriculums, and if youâ€™ve noticed, the teachers that plan their year finish teaching whole curriculum and those not-so-great teachers will get to chapter two of your textbook. You want to finish the curriculum. This is the drill curriculum:
These have to look as near to perfect as possible for maximum effect. Moves usually are influenced by formations; for instance, a kick formation likely has a line in it so people kick together. What if that line is more like a zigzag? Yuckâ€¦ needs work.
I would say this is one of the hardest things to do, especially when youâ€™re tired. Those angles need to stay perfect, your toes have to stay pointed, and you have to trick your mind and make yourself not tired. But itâ€™s not over yet. You have to keep going. Of course you can make a perfect T, but when youâ€™re tired, that T looks more like a low V. Not good. Endurance is a part of execution also.
Youâ€™re tired and you have to smile? That sucks. But itâ€™s part of the art. Keeping that smile bright shows how happy you are and how much you love to dance. It shows the judges how dedicated you are, how much you love being on this team, and how badly you want to win. This is one way that youâ€™re going to convince them that this team is best. Smile. Itâ€™s easy, isnâ€™t it?
So, in most states, you donâ€™t get judged on this part of the routine. This means nothing. You get secretly judged and you should know this. These are the first and last impressions that you leave and they must be effective and energetic. Entering sloppily is an automatic impression that your team doesnâ€™t want to win. Same with walking out sloppily. It shows how tired you are and incapable. Definitely not a good thing.
Bad posture will make your judges wince. Itâ€™s hard to keep that back flat, but itâ€™s only going to be for a few minutes. You need to have good posture to do well in competitions. Itâ€™s just part of the drill art.
This is currently the curriculum, which I may be adding to later.
Captains and coaches, this is your job. Youâ€™re teaching this team, and you want every student to complete the curriculum of your class. One of the hardest things about drill is the concept of teamworkâ€“every individual member has to ace every part of this curriculum. These are all tests that they must pass. If one person doesnâ€™t, the whole team suffers.
So, in order to successfully complete this curriculum, you need to be planning practices two weeks at a time. So for instance, on Monday from 2:30pm until 3:30 you will work on angles; then, you will have a short break and from 3:35 to 4 you will work on formations. Make these agendas specific, and stick with them. There is no use to making a schedule it you donâ€™t use it. Make sure you plan practices and get things done. Incorporate every part of the drill curriculum to ensure that your performance goes well. Spend more time on areas that need improvement and less time on the areas that youâ€™ve pretty much got down. Let team members know the agenda. They have a right to know everything. Leaders, donâ€™t treat them like your minions. Just because you have a position means nothing about the level of your skills compared to theirs. I hated being treated like a â€œnewbieâ€. Remember to not name your team members either. â€œFirst-yearâ€, â€œnew membersâ€, â€œnewbiesâ€â€“these are all discouraging. Itâ€™s like a first-year member is automatically worse than a second-year one. Experience is important, but practice is more important. There are many â€œfirst-yearâ€ (Iâ€™m not a big fan of this term) members that are better than â€œthird-yearsâ€. Itâ€™s all about how much each member practices.
Now itâ€™s time to plan! Donâ€™t wait. Do it now!
Comment and tell me how this works for you.
Remember to smile bright!
A whole lot of time is spent at practice being unproductive because some people still donâ€™t know the routine. And as a captain or even a team member, you start thinking, â€œwhy do they not know the routine? Itâ€™s been a month since theyâ€™ve learned it!â€ Itâ€™s a very good question, but there isnâ€™t really an answer to it, other than the fact that theyâ€™re lazy, effortless, and donâ€™t place drill on their priority list. But you canâ€™t just kick them off the teamâ€“theyâ€™re important. Youâ€™re going to have to deal with it some way or another.
The main problem about someone not knowing the routine is that it brings the team down. You canâ€™t really work on angles, formations, etc. so youâ€™re forced to instead go over the routine (and waste time) or find another activity to do (conditioning, marching, etc.) that wonâ€™t really help your performance which is coming up in two weeksâ€¦
Itâ€™s extremely frustrating when practice after practice, these same people continue to not practice and not know the routine. You start wondering why on earth they were selected at the time of try-outs.
When I was on drill, the captains/coach always enforced the fact that weâ€™re a â€œteamâ€ and have to do â€œteamworkâ€ in order to be successful. Well, itâ€™s true, but only to an extent. Of course you have to rely on each other have good angles, be sharp, perform well, etc., but another thing that annoyed me was the concept that if one person didnâ€™t march the right way, the whole team would have to march again and again until everyone had it right. There was always the one person that didnâ€™t point her toes, or the one person that decided to not keep her posture back, and even though I was doing it fine, I had to repeat it over and over again just because of the girl who didnâ€™t point her toes, the girl that didnâ€™t want to be sharp, etc. It really angered me and I am pretty sure that it angered every other person on the team. It just brought everyoneâ€™s mood down and I stopped caring completely after doing it the 5th time in a row. I mean, is this concept of â€œteamworkâ€ really applicable? No. Itâ€™s important to work together in a team, but you shouldnâ€™t punish everyone for one personâ€™s errors. Itâ€™s just not right.
So, just because some people donâ€™t know the routine, does that mean everyone should go to practice and waste their time going over the routine, for the millionth time in a row? No. Hereâ€™s my method of teaching a routine:
1. After choreographing, create packets for everyone (make sure you triple-check for errors)
These packets were very useful for me when I was learning the routine. They would have the count # and the moves next to it, indicating where marching started and stopped. Hereâ€™s an example of what I mean:
1 High v, in fists
2 Swirl arms down to low v (start high-knee marching)
3 W angle in fists
& T, in fists
4 Broken T, in blades (stop marching)
OK, so that wasnâ€™t exactly a realistic routine, but I hope you get the idea. Itâ€™s really easy to forget the routine after it is taught, especially when a lot is taught in a day. Sometimes people will leave out entire 8-counts and it just leads to confusion. These packets are good references and you will never have a team member telling you â€œbutâ€¦I forgot about that partâ€, â€œyou didnâ€™t answer your phone when I called for helpâ€, etc. Just make sure they donâ€™t lose their packet.
2. Set a time period for teaching the routine to the team
Some teams like to practice daily for an hour or two a day; others might like to practice for 3 hours a day two days a week. It all depends on how your team does it. For a normal, approximately 3 minute routine, I would say set a week to teach the routine. You donâ€™t want to teach an overwhelming amount in one day, nor do you want to take a whole month to teach it. Make sure you give everyone a 5 minute break between a set of four 8-counts for them to think about what theyâ€™ve learned and catch up on it. If youâ€™re talking the whole time, no one will have time to think about the previosu 8-count or the one before it, so make sure you close your mouth for a few minutes and just let them think about it and practice on their own for a bit. One time when I was being taught, the captain just kept going on and on to new sets of 8-counts. I just gave up midway through practice and decided Iâ€™d go home and learn it. I just didnâ€™t care anymore. You donâ€™t want anyone to just give up, so â€œthinking-breaksâ€ would be helpful.
3. Leave a 1-week time space for team members to practice
Donâ€™t schedule practices for one week. Take the stress off and enforce everyone to practice and take advantage of the time off.
4. Schedule one week for individual practices to evaluate team members
Create a sign-up sheet for evaluation sessions. Have five of these (one hour each) in one week. Divide your team up evenly (ex: 30 members on a team, divide this by five days so that you will evaluate six members per practice). Allow members to sign up whenever they wish, as long as itâ€™s in the timeframe. During this practice, your job as a captain is to evaluate every team member on how well they know the routine. This has nothing to do with perfecting it. Knowledge is the first partâ€“you can perfect the routine later. If the person knows the routine, she passes, and if not, she will fail. Donâ€™t be too harsh, itâ€™s a know-it or donâ€™t thing; you donâ€™t want everyone stressed out over this. Create a punishment for failing, like going to practices during the weekend or going to â€œfailâ€ practices. This will be your time to punish those that didnâ€™t know the routine, because it was their fault and they deserve to be punished rather than the team as a whole. Use this time to help them learn the routine so that you can start practices with the entire team to work on the next stepâ€“perfection.
And there you have it! One week to teach the routine, one week to rest, one week to evaluate. A three-week process. This might seem long, but if you think about it, itâ€™s really not. Most captains make the mistake of teaching a routine in 1-2 weeks and going immediately into the perfection process. Though many team members are dedicated and spend time practicing, there are the ones who donâ€™t. Running straight into the process of perfection is therefore only a waste of time, because the people that donâ€™t know the routine canâ€™t perfect what theyâ€™ve not yet learned. When you perform, the judges watch every single person on your team and you cannot risk having one person off. If one person doesnâ€™t know the routine, sheâ€™ll never have time to perfect it and her bad angles/posture/etc. will catch a judgeâ€™s eye.
Sometimes even months after the routine is taught, people still donâ€™t know the routine. I remember times when people hadnâ€™t learned a routine until four months after being taught. So if you think about it, a three-week process with every single member knowing the routine is a pretty good deal. As a whole you will be able to move on and not have to practice formations with the girl in the back who doesnâ€™t know the routine and is always in your way because she doesnâ€™t know where to move. You have go step by step, and the first step is knowledge. Not just in most of the members, but every member. You need to surpass this step in order to move on.
Have fun teaching!