Here’s A Smarter Way To Learn From Home

practice dance at home

You’ve probably heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder,” but what does that mean in the context of leveling up your dancing? Plus, what does it look like when you practice dance at home?

Here is a collection of tools and services that are focused on helping you get the most out of your dance practice at home, and the research to back it up:

Learning from YouTube – Observational Learning

What if I told you that you can immediately gain some skill by doing nothing other than watching a video? It sounds like fake news. In fact, your coaches, peers and teachers have probably told you that you can’t learn from YouTube.

That’s correct…almost!

The theory behind learning from YouTube is called Observational Learning, which is learning that occurs through observing the behavior of others. Research shows it impacts the brain in similar ways to physical practice in sports and dance.

So you can be a professional by watching YouTube? 

Not quite. There’s still (at least one) aspect missing and that is likely Deliberate Practice.

Reaching Your Peak Performance – Deliberate Practice

Deliberate Practice is a fascinating topic that has come under the microscope in recent years. 

K. Anders Ericsson is a leading researcher in the field of deliberate practice and states:

In pretty much any area of human endeavor, people have a tremendous capacity to improve their performance, as long as they train in the right way.

Deliberate practice isn’t magic. Research has shown that to be the best in a particular field, you can’t just practice harder to make it– although you can get pretty damn far.

So, to get pretty damn far, what do you need to do? This article does a fairly good job explaining what deliberate practice can look like. 

Are there any tools or services to help with Observational Learning or Deliberate Practice? 

Yes, yes there are! I’m so glad you asked.

Tools of The Trade – Feedback and Cognitive Load

Before you can even start practicing, you need to really know what to do. For me, when I watch the pros, they’re going so fast I can’t even tell what they’re doing! So how can we make this observational learning easier?

  1. Slow down the video on YouTube. This simple trick was a game changer for me, but it wasn’t enough. I still needed to keep watching the same thing over and over so…
  2. Try Youxube. You can slow down a video and loop the same segment of video over and over again! Here is an example of a smooth starter step I wanted to understand.

Here, on Youxube, it’s so much easier to see!

Now that you know what you’re doing when you practice dance at home, you want feedback because feedback is essential to learning. And high-quality feedback is timely, accurate, substantive, constructive, and specific.

How do we get feedback like this?

The standard way is with a coach. Some are fortunate enough to have amazing coaches that help us perform our best. Unfortunately, not everyone has a coach or sees their coaches as often as they’d like for various reasons. 

What options are there if I can’t see a coach in person?

  1. Call a local pro. I’ve never met a pro who wasn’t interested in coaching. If you do this, consider using Coach’s Eye to get great feedback if possible. If paying for that isn’t an option, you and your coach can do many of the same annotations with Snapchat!
  2. Get quick and immediate feedback from pros online. Platforms like WestiePro allow you to send your videos to West Coast Swing pros and get feedback at affordable prices. For other dance styles, look for pros like Natalia on Patreon.
  3. Record and review your own videos. Consider using Snapchat to annotate your videos to help you understand your performance. Use Youxube to loop your videos to better understand what you’re doing.

If this is a lot for you to take on at once, I get it. Start small. Try at least one of these tips above and see the difference it makes. 

Looking for more? Reach out at [email protected].

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