Collegiate Teams: Winter Break Practice Tips


New Member
Winter break is great, except for the fact that there are numerous comps in January and February and its going to be almost impossible to have full team practices in the next 3 weeks. Do any collegiate teams have any tips for how they practice over winter break to get ready for comps since dancers are no longer all at school? We have thought of doing webcam practices, sending in videos, drawing up formations etc, but we want to make sure we are being as efficient as we can be and not wasting time.

Any help is appreciated!


Active Member
When I was a collegiate team captain, we generally tried a few things to make sure people were practicing over winter break to get ready for comps:

We had a video requirement for people on lineup for the coming comps (usually to post four videos a week of a full run through, not on the same day). For this, I found it was extremely important for the captains to provide timely critiques for the videos. It was relatively difficult getting dancers to actually send in the videos when we would give sparse critiques, but taking the time to provide in-depth critiques per video both made them better dancers and showed them that sending in videos would actually yield something for them. We told dancers not to do all their videos on the same day so that we could send them critiques in between videos and watch their improvement, but there might be some stamina benefit to doing multiple in a row. The other option to make sure people adhere to this would be to have some type of negative punishment for them (e.g. the only way to be on lineup dancing at a comp is to do X videos per week), but we felt like sending critiques provided positive feedback that led to a much longer-lasting excitement about practicing on their own.

A few times, we tried drawing up formations and sending them out for people to review. Honestly, the major benefit of this was just that we had formations ready to go for when we learned them as soon as we got back from break. In my experience, dancers most often didn't look over the formations (powerpoint slides) beforehand and even if they did, there were so many intricacies in terms of when to move on certain moves (and adjustments to make based on spatial arrangement when people were actually back in person) that it didn't really matter whether they had reviewed them over break or just taken a cursory glance the day before practice. Plus, they probably can't practice formations when they're home alone.

Once or twice at the suggestion of some other teams, we tried having people come back a few days early for an "intensive boot camp practice" (e.g. if school started Monday, we'd have people be back Thur night/Fri morning to have all-day practices Fri/Sat/Sun). If people are driving distance from your school this could work, but the key is that everyone has to be there. The times we decided on this plan too late and a lot of people had already booked their tickets (to come home that Sunday or something), the few people who came to this intensive practice rightfully felt like it was kind of unfair and definitely much less productive since we'd have to relearn any formations/new choreo/cleaning that we taught. Conversely, if everyone does come back for the intensive-style practice, it'll also serve as a team bonding type thing.

The main thing we learned from doing this over the years was not to overwhelm people with things to do over break--the more achievable the things you set for your team to do, the more likely they are to actually do them and come back from break excited to practice for the comp. If it isn't realistic to do the intensive practice thing, setting X videos per week as a requirement and providing thorough feedback (and encouraging people to work out and eat healthy and whatever) ended up being the most realistic and most fruitful for us.