This one gets asked a lot. I mean A LOT. I may have retired from the pole comp scene but here’s my advice from the various ones I have done.
No one knows your routine. So if you mess up, no one will know (unless you suddenly stop with an “Oh sh!t” expression). Keep going!
Besides training for your comp, have some play time. Freestyle, connect moves, or even cross train with a different dance style all together. That way if the pole becomes slippery or in a moment of panic you miss a move that stuffs up your entire combination, you can improvise.
TRAIN LIKE A MOFO
For one particular comp, I trained all the time. When I was power walking for cardio, I would listen to my song and practice the gestures with my hands. Sure, I looked silly walking in silence and flapping my hands about but I knew every beat, every movement, and the timing of that routine. I came second in that comp (a routine about heartbreak wasn’t “sexy enough to be first place”) but it was my best routine by far.
Is just as important as training.
OTHER BITS OF ADVICE
- Get plenty of sleep leading up to the comp.
- Read all of the rules because every comp is different. Even if you enter the same one every year, the rules are subject to change.
- Shop around for your pole costume on eBay and grab some basic sewing skills off YouTube. You won't believe what you can create by hand.
WHAT’S IN MY COMP BAG?
- Jumper and sweatpants or a onsie - it gets cold backstage!
- Makeup and some spare brushes
- Hollywood tape/double sided fashion tape
- Bobby pins
- Small sewing kit
NOTE: I bring extra of everything because there is ALWAYS someone who needs it.
This last piece of advice took me a very long time to realise:
Pole is subjective. It doesn’t have a set standard like gymnastics or figure-skating. You can train hard, have a flawless routine, perfect execution of moves, great character/story… and still not place. You should really use competitions to train yourself harder and to achieve realistic goals. Sure, you may win but you may not and for various reasons. It shouldn’t matter either way. What matters is that you have improved on your pole skills and made some fun friends backstage.