Find Your Checkpoints

West Coast Swing Online Grab Bag

There are some habits that creep out while dancing. It might be your posture—your shoulders eventually roll forward no matter how tall you stood at the start of the dance. Or it might be that your hand keeps sneaking up as you focus on the moves of the dance, until your arms make a W shape with your partner.

Whatever your bad habit is, you need a way to keep fixing it throughout the dance. This exercise will help you set some mental checkpoints so that you can reset yourself during the dance.

The Drill: This drill works best with a partner, although you can do it solo if necessary. The first task is to identify what bad habit you want to fix. Pick only one per dance as you start; when you have drilled several habits, you can then try combining them.

Next, figure out where in the dance you have the opportunity to fix the bad habit. For instance, if your bad habit is that you let your shoulders roll forward, you won’t be able to fix that on an anchor because you’re at the maximum distance from your partner, and your body doesn’t have the slack to bring the shoulder back into frame. For that habit, your checkpoint could be right before you post—at that time, your body is still in a position to fix the error.

Now, put on a song and think about fixing your bad habit every time you hit that checkpoint. You are training yourself to adjust your dancing on the fly, instead of making a single correction at the start of the dance and then letting things slide. Gradually, the adjustment at the checkpoint will become instinctive. That’s when you can either change to another habit, or add another checkpoint for that habit.

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