Caroline's Twirl Tips
Sportsmanship ~ Perseverance ~ Dedication ~ Gratitude
As a competitive baton twirler for over 12 years, I have learned many life lessons along the way. I've put together these tips to help young athletes perform at their best. Although these are about baton twirling, many of the tips can apply to any sport. Stay focused, work hard, and be grateful!
Practice like you will compete. Practice like you mean it. It’s better to do five “full out” solos than ten solos just “marking” it. This will only make you stronger, build stamina, help you perfect your routines faster, and it will make you a better competitor.
Even if you only have 45
minutes in the gym, make it count. We all
get busy and it’s hard to find time to practice. But if you allow yourself short, full-out
practices, you WILL improve.
a priority. Practicing is not always
convenient, but it is necessary to get better.
Set goals for your practice schedule.
Hold yourself accountable. It
takes dedication, self-control, and
sacrifice to succeed in your sport.
there are no shortcuts to success! Usually, the
athlete who wins is not lucky. She has put
in the time, energy, and work. PJ
Meirhoffer, College Miss Majorette of America once had t-shirts made that said, “The more I sweat, the
luckier I get!” So true!
little each day is better than trying to cram in practice the week before the competition. It’s like saving money. If you save a $1 each day, in a month, you
will have $30. This is a lot easier than
trying to save $5 each day for a week. By the end of the month, you have the
same result, plus interest!!
achievable goals. Be patient. Baton
twirling is hard. It requires thousands
of tries to get a trick. Some days you will catch something easily, and the
next day you can’t catch it anymore.
Don’t get discouraged. Know that
if you persevere, you will start catching the trick more often than not, and
finally, it will feel easy. It took me
one whole year to catch my one spin and I’m so glad I didn’t give up!
everything. Remember that baton twirling
should be beautiful to watch. Toes,
knees, back, arms, and shoulders should all be pointed or straight. It may take you longer to start catching a
trick with good technique, but in the long run it will be prettier and you will
get more credit on the score sheet.
Plus, it will be harder to break bad technique habits as you get more
advanced. And finally, good technique
can help avoid injuries caused by unhealthy body lines.
Have someone videotape you! I know it can feel embarrassing or be hard to watch yourself, but
it is so important. When you are
performing, you may not “feel” the things you are doing wrong. Have your mom or coach videotape you in both
practice and competition. Watch it back and make notes of what you would like
to improve. And, a few months later, watch your old competition tapes and
celebrate how much you’ve improved!
This is my motto and applies to so many aspects of baton twirling. At competitions,
the floor may be slippery or the ceiling may be too low. Realize that everyone
has the same conditions and it’s up to you to make the best of it. Try not to get discouraged or make excuses.
Just roll with it and do your best. It’s
also a good idea to have a couple of pairs of shoes on hand for different
types of floors! Showmanship
This means more than just smiling at your judge or audience. Show everyone
watching you that you love your sport.
Smile with your eyes. Even if your judge is not smiling back, keep your
showmanship. And never, ever, get frustrated if you are not having a good routine. Maintain your composure through the march off
and pose. Remember that some judges will
watch you all the way until you leave the competition floor.
Scoring and Subjectivity
Competitive twirling is subjective, and judges are human.
Our twirling judges are committed to the sport of baton twirling. Many have coached for years and are willing
to give up their free time, or even time with their own students, because they
love this sport. Appreciate them. Know
that you may not always get the score or placement you think you deserve. Stay positive, review the scoresheets with
your coach, and look for areas to improve. If you see the same comment over and
over from different judges, take to heart their feedback and strive to get
not the end of the world! If you are having no-drop routines over and over, then you need
more difficulty! Striving for a no drop
will only hold you back. I’ve seen national champions have drops because they
are taking risks, trying hard tricks, and going for it. However, if there is a trick you are always
dropping, it may be best to work with your coach to revise it a couple of weeks
before a competition.
routine you’ve been given. It should be
rare that you would change your routine without your coaches input or approval.
They know how routines should be constructed according to the rules and points
on the scoresheet. Also, try not to
cheat your routine in competition. Avoid
changing a trick or not catching the baton the way it’s choreographed. Sometimes, even when you cheat the trick, you
still drop because it is not what you have practiced.
Time your routines regularly. In NBTA, you are twirling to
music that does not start and stop. Make
sure your routine is within the time allotment.
It is silly to get penalized because your routine is under or overtime.
twirling to music. I twirl faster when I’m twirling to music. And, it’s a lot more fun and motivating to
have good music to twirl to. No one
would consider running or working out without music! Also, as much as you may not want to, practice
X-strut to the official march music.
This is the best way to make sure you are in step.
“normal” performance at a competition.
If you have been having an average of three drops in practice, chances are,
you will have three in competition. You
can’t expect miracles on competition day, but you shouldn’t expect a "bombed"
routine either. This is why it’s
important that you practice like you will compete.
Think about it...there are relatively few of us who twirl. We have a
common bond because only we know what it’s like to twirl competitively. We are a unique sisterhood. Contests are so much more fun when you have
friends there competing with you. Having a friend to practice with is also a
good way to make the practice more productive. You can push and encourage each
other to get better.
If you are a high school
student, it’s important for you to start taking steps to make the sport your own. Many of us have had moms or coaches take us
to the gym, rhinestone our costumes, pack our competition bag, and
basically handle everything. Try to set
your own practice schedule. Start
rhinestoning your own costumes and make a list of items to pack for
contests. Twirl because you want to, not
because someone is “making” you.
Be proud of
your sport and know that you are representing baton twirling at all times. Practice hard in the gym and the basketball guys
on the court will respect you as an
athlete. When you are performing, make
sure you are an ambassador. Carry yourself
with dignity at all times. If you are a
feature twirler, be a part of the band organization. Realize that the musicians have
practiced their instruments for years as well and deserve the same respect. And, don’t be a diva! If the band is
practicing in the hot sun, you should be out there with them!
your coaches and your family. Remember
that sometimes this sport requires the whole family to sacrifice. Many of us have moms who have sat for years
on a hard gym floor watching us practice or stayed up half the night finishing
a costume. Be grateful to them and your
coach. Know everyone is there to support
you, share in your joys and disappointments, and help make you better.
"The difference between a dream and a goal...
is a timeline and an action plan."