Practice to Your Strengths

West Coast Swing Online Grab Bag

We’ve all heard the adage, “Play to your strengths.” We understand that there are some things we do exceptionally well and it makes sense to work in a way that leverages those advantages. Yet, when it comes to practice, we tend to ignore our strengths and instead focus on our weaknesses.

There’s nothing wrong with practicing weak spots. Some skills are simply essential for success in a given domain. In WCS, if you can’t do an anchor, you’re going to struggle.

But, if you spend all your time practicing the things you do poorly, you aren’t taking advantage of your strengths. Surprisingly, practice is most effective when it focuses on strong skills and builds them into world-class skills.

The claim that practice is most effective when it focuses on skills that are already strong makes sense when we think in concrete terms. Who is going to get the most out of practicing body rolls—someone who struggles with body isolations or someone who already has a great deal of body control? The person who struggles with isolations may pick up a couple of movements, but the person with body control has the ability to polish those movements into acts that stand out and catch the judges’ eyes. Likewise, a person who has a solid repertoire of footwork variations is going to get more out of practicing funky syncopations than a person who struggles with basic foot positions.

The reality is, practice time is limited. If you want to become exceptional by fixing all of your weaknesses, you’re fighting an uphill battle. If, on the other hand, you minimize your weaknesses and pour your effort into making your strengths truly outstanding, you’ll be able to leverage your existing skills to a far greater degree. Practice to your strengths.

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