Using a Checklist to Supercharge your Dancesport Practice Part 2 (Couples) – by Cassie Tucker

Cassie performing a spectacular Award.

Using a checklist to maximise your Dancesport practice - Part 2 Couples


DK Ballroom Instructor Cassie Tucker describes how a checklist can help couples practice


Supercharge Your Practice by using a Checklist Part 2 - Couples Practice - by Cassie Tucker 
"Using a checklist for couples practice is an effective tool to ensure both individual and partnership practice goals are met, while also providing a clear action plan for the practice session.
A dance checklist for couples is very similar to a solo checklist with a few key differences:
1. The checklist must be created together.
I can 100% guarantee that if one person gives the other permission to write the practice schedule, they are not going to be invested in the implementation. Creating the list together ensures that both parties are properly represented. Remember, even though you may both be attending the same lessons, your teacher will give very different areas of focus to each person. The roles of the male and female in dancing are very different, but equally important. Ensure proper time is allocated to developing both your needs.
2. The checklist must incorporate a feedback system.
How many times have you experienced yourself or seen a couple’s practice dissolve into bickering on the floor? This is usually caused by one person criticising the other for one thing, when their partner is focussing on something entirely different. In short, issues result from poor communication.
A good practice plan clearly defines each task to be carried out. Practice the task in silence (no feedback!) for either a set amount of time or number of repetitions before allowing feedback. Once is not sample. Repeating the task 5 or 10 times gives the couple a feel for where they are really at in terms of a figure or routine.
Armed with reliable insight, relevant discussion can then take place, identifying what is working, what needs work, and also saves time on correcting outliers.
Feedback should only be provided within the parameters of the focus area. Telling your partner that their hold sucks is not only unhelpful criticism, but also completely irrelevant if you are supposed to be focussing on use of feet.
3. Areas of focus must be complementary.
What distinguishes ballroom and Latin from other styles is that it involves two people dancing in harmony. The action of one person affects the other and it’s that interdependency which makes working together challenging.
When you create your couples checklist, create areas of focus that complement each other. For example, the Man may wish to focus on clearer leads. The lady can’t exactly do the same. Instead she may focus on optimising her poise while also being responsive to the Man’s leads. The couple would then be working together.
On the other hand, if one person wants to focus on control and clarity, it would be unwise for the partner to work on dancing with reckless abandon. That would be chaos.
A partial couples practice checklist may look like this:
Start time: 6pm
[ ] Individual Warmup (15 mins)
[ ] Couple warmup (15 mins)
[ ] Practice entire routine to music. (3 x songs or 10 mins)
[ ] Practice entire routine focusing on neat closes and use of feet. Both Man and Lady. (X 5)
[ ] Feedback / repeat with changes
[ ] Natural Spin Turn. Man to focus on momentum and control. Lady to focus on poise and maintaining stretch to left. (10 x repetitions)
[ ] Feedback / repeat with changes
[ ] Practice second half of routine. Man to focus on clear leads. Lady to focus on being light and responsive. (X 5)
[ ] Feedback / repeat with changes
Treat each task like a loop. Practice the task, provide feedback, repeat the task with changes, provide feedback etc. as many times as required. Move on to the next task once you are satisfied with your progress, or you are dizzy from those endless Spin Turns.
Key points to remember
Only provide feedback relevant to what you are practicing and only at the specified time
Be specific about what you are practicing and don’t focus on too many things at once
Make a note of any issues / areas of improvement that may arise for future practice sessions
Positive feedback is always allowed :)"