Real Talk: Competition Pole
GET YOUR MIND RIGHT
Lately I’ve noticed that many of my fellow pole sisters are making their decision to (or not to) compete based on who else may be trying out and competing. Please do not fall victim to this way of thinking. This is absolutely the WRONG way to make your decision and really shouldn’t be a part of your reasoning in any way, shape or form.
I can only think that part of it has to do with our focus going into the competition process. We can get so wrapped in the FEAR of who we’re going up against, overly-critical of our own ABILITY or too focused on that coveted WIN. But at the end of the day none of those things really matter. Your decision to compete should be based on YOU and only YOU. Competitions are simply a personal tool, a way to push yourself to a new level, test your growth and show off the hard work that you’ve been putting in…so use it as such. Your goal should be to focus on doing you and being the best that you can be. Don’t fear the ability of your fellow pole sisters (or pole brothers), instead appreciate and respect their handwork and achievements, while also recognizing and appreciating your own. And when it comes to winning, let that be an added benefit IF IT’S YOUR TIME, if not your time then it’s not your time…but trust that one day your time will come. Think back to 2010, Crystal Belcher didn’t win MTPS her first year…but 2 years later after a lot of hard work and growth, she was crowned the 2012 MTPS Ultimate Winner!
So many of us go in with one thing on our mind…that WIN. Yea, winning is great and all, but in reality those 3-4 minutes on stage are just a very small part of the total competition experience. What you are really gaining out of the competition experience is the growth that you achieve in your poling, the personal development of pushing yourself past your limits physically and mentally, as well as the backstage camaraderie and relationships that you’re able to build with your fellow pole sisters and brothers.
So you’re still thinking about competing and now you’re starting to get focused on the right things, so keep reading!
TAKE A CHANCE
If you’re thinking about trying out but still not 100% committed and having some doubts then take Nike’s advice: JUST DO IT! Seriously, why not? You’ve got noting to lose. Not sure if you’ll make it to the finals? That’s OK, not all of us do…I didn’t make MTPS last year. And keep in mind that tryout videos and applications are private. Go to your instructor and let them know you’re interested in competing and want help putting together a routine and a tryout video. You can always submit secretly and keep it to yourself until you find out if this was your year to make the cut. And keep in mind that not making it isn’t the worst thing that can happen, but not trying out and living in fear of the “what if” is. Plus, there will always be competition in life, at work, everywhere…regardless of who it is and what you’re doing.
Linda Spraggins, Co-Owner of Miss Texas Pole Star, said: “There’s nobody that’s won anything that hasn’t tried out or entered FIRST.” This is SO TRUE! There are no handouts and with any contest, they all require a little initial effort. Whether you have to call in, get in line, fill out a form, etc…heck even with the lottery: you have to go buy a ticket! Linda does go on to remind us, that it is about more than just the win. “We can’t let that [Win] be our only focus,” she says. “I hope that our competition helps people recognize and fulfill other goals.”
And Linda is right, we should use MTPS and other competitions to find, set and achieve some personal goals. Maybe you’ve always had a problem with public speaking or being the center of attention and your goal is to be more calm, cool, collected and comfortable in your skin. Or maybe you’ve only danced in class or have never done a full choreographed performance before, and you’re determined to create a routine and do it on stage. Whatever your personal hurdle is, turn it into a personal challenge that you can overcome.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
So you’ve made the decision to compete but you’re a little unsure about which category to apply for. (I’ve noticed that this more so affects those considering the Amateur and Fitness levels.) We’ll start by asking yourself: Have I MASTERED the required tricks and elements in the category that you considering? If no then that might not be the category for you. When you go into a competition you want to do a routine (and tricks) that show off your very best. Knowing how to do a trick is not the same as doing a trick, and doing a trick is not the same as executing a trick effortlessly and with precision.
The Miss Texas Pole Star staff has done a great job this year with defining the focus of each category, really leveling the playing field a little bit and really making this a great year to be an amateur. They’ve made it a point for the amateur division contestants to really focus on pole foundations and performance fundamentals – this means making dance, clean spins, emotion and personal style your main focus. As amateurs this is your time to work on the foundations that make the difference when you get into the higher levels. Just think, if you are able to build a solid and interesting routine around your pole foundation, just imagine what you’ll be able to do when you get to the Ultimate and Pro levels and you can throw a Fonji or Rainbow Marchenko in there.
I hear this question a lot: there is no inverting allowed in Amateur division this year? Does this meant that because I can invert that I shouldn’t do the Amateur division? Not at all; you have to look at the bigger picture. Yes, you can invert but is it clean or is there a bit of struggle with it? After you invert are you able to seamlessly transition into another trick? If you answered no to one of both of these questions then you should definitely NOT base your category decision on the fact that you can invert. Yea, so maybe you can do a “hard” trick, but how easily can you transition into and out of that trick? Is it fluid and seamless? And more importantly, how long are you able to hold that trick (without struggle) and with proper lines, perfect technique and the right emotion conveyed on your face? While you may want to do invert or do other “Cool” tricks you should place yourself in a category where you can perform at your best while respecting your level and your body.
Feeling doubtful about the ability to create a beautiful routine using only spins and emotion? Watch this special performance by Aerial Amy at the Canadian Pole Dance & Artistry Showcase in Toronto. Note that there are no inverts, yet she still makes a stunning and compelling performance with her emotion and her ability to tell story with her movement.
Then on the other end of the spectrum you have those that have never done a competition, but have been poling for a while or have been able to catch on very quickly and have moved more towards and advanced level. In this case you should go ahead and tryout for the fitness level (or above). Just because you are new to the competitive pole arena doesn’t mean that you have to start out a level below your proper placement – maybe you have a dance, gymnastics or fitness background that gives you an edge and will ultimately play a factor in your placement.
Take this opportunity to evaluate your abilities and the requirements for each category. Then set a goal and align that goal with the requirements of the competition as well as your personal desire. If there’s something you’re not sure about talk to one of your instructors or any of your fellow polers that have been in the competition game for a while. They are all full of helpful information and will be able to point you in the right direction.
At the end of the day keep in mind that all of us have has to start someplace. You can’t leave pole class and go win MTPS, USPDF or any other competition. There is a process of growth, development and experience that goes along with it. You must embrace and learn to grow as an athlete and as a person.