Keep a Practice Log

West Coast Swing Online Grab Bag

There’s a famous business adage that “what gets measured, gets managed.” If you really want to take your practice to the next level, keeping a log of what you did will help you make your sessions more effective and will help you remember more.

Although it may sound boring, there are a lot of benefits to keeping a practice log.

  1. You remember more. It’s really easy to work on a skill and then forget about it. If you are practicing hard every day, you have a better chance of remembering what you worked on—but most of us don’t have the time to do a 30 minute session every day. Especially if you can only practice a couple of times a week, keeping a log helps remind you what you’re working on.
  2. You can see your progress. When you feel like your dance has stalled, you can easily look back to what you were working on a couple of months ago and genuinely feel like you’re making progress.
  3. The log keeps you honest. Are you really working on your fundamentals, or are you spending most of your time on trick moves with only a song or two dedicated to technique? It’s easy to misremember how much (or how little) time you spend on a skill, but the log can provide a great reality check.
  4. You can identify patterns in your development. After a few months, you may notice that you have made the most progress on skills for which you had a video of the instructor to watch. Or that had a specific drill to practice. Or that had a checklist of things for you to remember. The practice log can be a great way to learn how you learn best, so you can ask for the right things in future private lessons.
  5. You can keep expanding your repertoire. We all forget things if we don’t use them frequently. How often have you learned a cool new move, or a great styling variation, but didn’t put it on the floor and couldn’t remember it a couple of months later? A practice log is an easy way to keep new skills fresh in your mind.

Your practice log doesn’t have to be very complicated. A simple list of what you worked on will suffice. If you feel adventurous, you can be more detailed: what drills did you practice? What questions did you have that you want to bring to your coach? What should you try the next time you are social dancing? But the most important thing is to get in the habit of logging your practice. Once you have that habit, it’s easy to modify what you record.

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