Competing in a pole dancing competition? Read this!
As many of you know, I have spent a significant amount of time competing and training other people for pole dance competitions – I’ve been super lucky to have achieved quite a lot in my time. However, it wasn’t all puppies and rainbows at the start. I had to go through the same learning process anyone else has to go through to train for a pole dancing competition. Along the way, I have learned so many valuable lessons about competing, and it’s my time to share some of them with you.
Competing is just the tip of the iceberg
Pole Competitions aren’t just about the big day! Competing is like an iceberg. Imagine the tip of the iceberg as the competition and then the vast chunky understructure of the iceberg as the pre-competition prep. There is so much that leads up to the competition day. Below is a list of just some of the things you need to think about pre-comp day.
- Pick a song
- Pick a theme if you want a theme
- Order a costume
- Book pole studio to train
- Book lessons with a teacher if you aren’t self choreographing
- Get music edited
- Read through the competition rules and make notes of all the essential parts
- Decide what moves you want to include in this piece.
- Organise run-throughs of your routine
- Schedule regular pole conditioning to increase strength
- Decide on make up for the day.
- Organise how you want your hair. Do you like it down or up? Will it get in the way?
- Make sure the costume allows all the desired pole tricks you want in the routine. If you have a left shoulder mount, is that shoulder exposed, or is the costume covering?
- Organise how to get to the comp and book hotels
- Organise your bio and send it to the competition organiser
- Get your family their tickets to come and watch
These are just some of the pre-competition considerations. But which are the most important ones? I’ve got eight main things I feel are essential to consider pre-competition.
Are you in the right place for a competition?
Mental health is so important and has been brought to light how vital it is in recent months.
Are you mentally in a place where you can deal with the stress of competition? And it’s ok to not be in the right place. With COVID, it’s been tough for everyone, so ensure that competing isn’t going to land you in an even worse position.
I see so many people who train through injuries (it’s not worth it). Does it mean you can’t compete? Of course not. But I would always recommend amending your routine to avoid irritating the injury. But if you can’t do that, it’s time to consider not competing until it is healed.
It’s the difference between causing a severe long term injury and just entering another comp when it’s recovered. It’s a no brainer.
“Huh? What has my financial health got to do with it?” I hear you say. Well, it has a large part to do with competing. Let me tell you – I have spent thousands over the years competing. Now obviously, you can save money in some ways, but here is a rough guide. I will base this off a student competing as, generally, it’s most expensive for students as they don’t have their own pole studio.
If you own a studio or are an instructor with free access to studios, you will be lucky to save a lot of money on studio hire for run-throughs. It’s one of the few plus sides to being a studio owner/ instructor sometimes, hehe. I usually spend a minimum of 3 months prepping for a comp. I would usually aim to visit the studio three times a week to train my routine. I would expect the average student to have 6-8 private pole classes to help them put together a kick-ass routine (this varies on the student, of course).
Private lessons x6 (£40 per private)
Studio hire x30 hours (£10 per hour hire)
I would probably say that these costs are on the lower end. I estimate it would be easy enough to spend over £1000 entering a pole competition as it depends on your studios hire fees and private lesson fees. Maybe they don’t offer pole hire, so you are limited to just private lessons. Perhaps you want to go to a big name pole dancer for choreo and have to pay a premium for a private class.
There are so many factors, so make sure you have all of these costs in mind. The above also doesn’t consider flights if you have to fly to the country where you are competing.
Compete to win
“But I just want to go and do a competition for fun. It’s fine. I don’t care if I don’t win”. Susan, please. Enter a showcase and perform there if that’s what you would like to do. Competitions are exactly what they say they are. They are a chance for you to compete against other pole dancers with the hopes that you will win.
I have never entered a competition without the hope of winning. Sure, some people may enter them and be happy with not winning, and that’s fine. But competitions are there to COMPETE. It’s your chance to see if you can beat your expectations and challenge yourself. And don’t let anyone make you feel bad about being competitive or wanting to win. That is the whole nature of the beast. So long as you are respectful and kind to other competitors, there is no harm in wanting to do well. Who wouldn’t want to win, right?
Be realistic with your tricks
When I train my routine, I have a rule of thumb, If I can’t get the trick while performing my routine a month before the comp, I cut it out and replace it. So be sure to choose tricks that will challenge you but make sure you can achieve them consistently. There is nothing worse than being on stage and not achieving a trick because once you miss the trick, it makes you lose the whole flow of where you are in your routine.
! TRIGGER WARNING ! THIS NEXT SECTION TALKS ABOUT DIETING AND WEIGHT LOSS.
Diet – do I need to be strict?
So I am probably the worst person to speak to about this. I’ve been known to eat Mac Donalds before competitions, so diet isn’t something I focus on so much! Haha! However, I would say about diet to ensure you are fueling your body enough to sustain the extra training you will do while you compete. These run-throughs and combo training sessions burn lots of energy, so make sure you eat foods that will give you a decent amount of energy to perform an entire routine.
One thing I will mention is that for most comps, I usually lose a little weight before. I don’t usually need to change my diet, but it comes as a bi-product of the extra training. But the main benefit of that weight loss is that I find being slightly lighter always makes some of the heavy lifts a lot easier for me because I don’t have as much bodyweight to lift.
I want to mention, though, that weight loss isn’t essential to any form of pole dancing. So please don’t misunderstand the above statements. Competing is for people of any shape and size, so don’t allow the pressure of a competition to make you feel the need to diet because I sure as hell don’t, and I think I’ve done ok for myself.
Two run-throughs, MINIMUM!
When I train people for pole dancing competitions, I have a two run-throughs rule. When the routine is finished and it’s time to run the whole thing, you have to do a minimum of 2 run-throughs or three if you have the time. The second one doesn’t need to be amazing – it’s for fitness and endurance. If you can get through a second run-through, you’ll know you 100% that you can get through just one run-through on the day of competition without any stamina or strength issues.
Check the costume and check it again!
There is nothing worse than a nip or lip slip on stage at a competition (especially in front of hundreds of people). I mean, no one is going to laugh at you. If anything, we’re the type of industry that would cheer harder because we want to support you more.
Make sure when your costume is made that you have at least three run-throughs in it. Also, ensure it’s been made to suit all of the moves in your routine. For example, if you have a jade split with a right leg split, you will need to ensure you have your right hip out, so you will need to make sure your costume reflects that. And lastly, When ordering the outfit, try to ensure the costume will arrive 3 weeks before so there is time to make any adjustments if needed.
Coping with nerves
Keep yourself occupied. Some people listen to music with their earphones on the day. Some like to sit around and chat with other competitors to take their minds off things. One thing which could also be good for helping with nerves is a guided meditation where you focus on breathing. Sometimes there isn’t much you can do about the nerves, so use them to your advantage and let that adrenaline push you to give your best performance ever!
If there were one thing I would avoid, it would be watching other people compete in your category. So if you are at the side of the stage, don’t watch the person before you. It will only make you nervous and doubt yourself. Just face away and when it’s your turn, be confident and smash your performance.
Don't overload yourself!
I see people who get so carried away, enter multiple competitions, and train ridiculous amounts of hours a week, and from experience, I know that it always ends in tears. And if not tears, INJURIES. Aim for quality over quantity. Try to focus on two pole competitions a year. I find this is a perfect amount to give 100% your best to the performance, honestly.
If you are a crazy competition person who wants to do lots, try and use the same routine more than once. I remember doing around six competitions within a year when I was an amateur, and it wore me down. As a result, the quality of what I was doing suffered. And while I got lucky to place or win at the time, I look back and wonder why I didn’t enter less and give a better performance.
So my main advice on this is to spread your competitions out and give yourself the time to create a masterpiece.
Wow, this was a big one! I hope this guide was helpful to any of you Susan’s who are interesting in competing.
REMEMBER! The best way to be competition-ready is to keep up regular conditioning! So if you are thinking of competing in future, make sure you are signed up for my classes. Gain that competitive edge and be your best self!
Love from Dan