Its been a long hard day, you've just hung your jock strap or just wrapped your toe pads in a military grade air tight compartment... and you body feels like it cannot go another round of Cecchetti Port de Bras in class or The Czardas from Coppelia in rehearsal. What do you need to do to recover? What do you need to do in the long term so you can thrive with the volume of training or rehearsing and performing that you do?
In the world of Sport, support staff play a crucial, yet small role in preparing athletes and teams for the demands and their discipline. Strength Trainers, for example, specialise in preparing Athletes and Dancers physically to meet goals set by the Coaches of the discipline. However could our role as "Support Staff" go beyond the physical?
The conditioning room is simple, it can often be very finite and full of energy that, when brought to the forefront of the moment, can have positive influences beyond the physical changes in musculature. The nature of the work in strength training, for any Dancer, is one that can serve as an uncomplicated way of improving class or performance.
In other words, as long as you have the right Coach, you get out what you put in. However, as a person with a number of years experience, being both under the barbell and coaching its movement, I can say that the sense of euphoria and acute feeling of success has benefits way beyond being able to jump higher and dancing for longer.
So, with reference to earlier points, it starts to become apparent by the end of the first few sessions in practising strength training as an Art. Therefore, it may be fair to say that back room staff such as; Trainers, Physios and Coaches, may play a crucial role in, not just physical preparation, but readiness to perform, be in the moment and succeed through encouraging definitive, quantifiable mini successes that do not necessarily directly have a relevance to Dance.
It is widely understood that Strength Coaches should not cross boundaries and, certainly, there are brilliant professionals who specialise in preparing individuals for the psychological demands of a discipline. However, I have begun to understand, over a number of years in Sport, that Dance is emotionally demanding and possibly way beyond the realms of any sport that I have come across to date. As an art form that is subjective and impossible to quantify in its delivery, it allows freedom of expression, acting and passion that has to come across through high velocity movements coupled with ultimate control. Therefore, even more reason for us, as support staff, to inject positivity, visualisation and mindfulness into our coaching processes and strength training delivery.
I go back to the high level of emotional intelligence I see in Dancers. As individuals they are so brilliantly in tune with their senses that often this can lead to heightened emotional states, both positive and negative, and as a result performance can be influence. Yet, through coaching in the weight room we can create an environment of measurable success that is not subjective and could serve to create miniature moments of achievement that create a mechanism for success on the stage.
Any Dancer that has worked with myself will tell you that I always wish to engage with them on a level whereby they can completely devote themselves to the process of getting stronger both physically and mentally. Progression through Sport and Dance is not linear however through strength of body and mind, which are closely linked by the way, we can overcome hurdles that once appeared to large to leap.
SO... What am I getting at here? Well... If you are lucky enough to have a Trainer or Physio close by or any other member of staff that is involved in preparing you to do what you love, the best thing you can do is utilise their knowledge for your gain. Thats why we are "Support Staff" and we go beyond the physical. We thrive on aiding people in the efforts to become confident and successful and that can often start with a Squat or accessing some hidden turn out you didn't know you had. Unlock your potential from a different angle.
Dance is deep stuff, as a Sportsman I was as emotionally invested in my Sport as you are in your Dancing and that investment and sense of belonging to the Art form is a brilliant sensation.
I wish I had spent as much time with my Physio as I should have done it would have better served me in my preparation for performance and competition. They always saw it from a different angle and gave me perspective and sometimes thats all we need to unlock new heights of success. The body will do what the mind will allow. And you might find that extra 5% in the Strength/Physio Room.
I encourage you to watch this video, because it shows the emotion of emotional and these Ladies and Gents from Oxford Brookes University invest their time wisely and, despite the trials and tribulations of the sport, they can create something so artistic and emotional from the seemingly singular sport of Rowing.