Joel and Clara Marasigan

The 6 Most Common Rookie Mistakes in Competition


With the upcoming UBC Gala Ball this weekend, I thought I’d post some of the most common mistakes that I’ve observed from first-time competitors.

Herman Lak & Michele Garlica from Poland1)  Messy, fly-away hair – Ballroom hair is not the same as an everyday hairstyle or even an evening updo.  It requires a heck of a lot more hairspray, gel and pins!  Hair should be pulled back, usually  in some sort of a bun, with no soft, fly-away tendrils hanging around the face.  The only exceptions are usually in Latin, where some ladies will do a tightly braided ponytail or have a short bob or boy-cut, specifically styled for Ballroom.  For the men as well, hair should be tightly combed, flat and even with no fly-away hairs flapping in the wind.  For more information on Ballroom hair, visit the DanceSport Essentials section our site:  

2)  Eating an inappropriate pre-competition meal – Often people have their meal way too close to the time of their competition.  Remember that DanceSport is a very active endeavour.  If you wouldn’t have a huge, greasy meal 1 hour before going swimming, then you probably shouldn’t do it before a Ballroom Dance competition either.  Allow about 2-4 hours to digest your meal, and for heaven sakes, don’t eat anything too heavy, especially not McDonald’s!  For more information on Nutrition and Diet, visit the DanceSport Essentials section our site:

Photos from UBC Gala Ball3)  Putting your number on incorrectly – Look at some pictures of dance competitions and take note of exactly where dancers put their numbers.  Often first-timers will place their numbers on crooked or too low, and it immediately shows that they are rookie competitors.  If you’re unsure of where to put your number, ask a more experienced dancer to put it on for you or ask your coach.  

4)  Wearing inappropriate clothing – One of my pet peeves are white or coloured socks.  Gentlemen:  Please wear black socks!  You may think that they don’t show, but they often do!  Another common error for men is wearing a vest that is so short, that as soon as they put their arms up in dance hold, their shirt starts showing underneath and even sometimes gets untucked.  This ends up looking very messy.  Guys:  Tuck your shirt into your underwear.  That’s the best solution I can give for that one!  Ladies:  Finding the perfect dress is always difficult, whether for Ballroom or for anything else.  For your first time, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Just make sure that it’s not too tight to move in.  Ideally, we want a bit of a fuller skirt and in a material that has a little bit of give.  Remember, we’re not trying to walk around the floor, we’re trying to dance!  Although it’s probably too late for you to think about a new costume for Gala, please visit our Costuming page for future competitions: 

5)  Being totally unrehearsed for your bow – Be prepared to bow after each dance.  If you’ve never tried it before, practice it during your warm-up before you compete this weekend.  Trust me, you don’t want to be doing it for the first time in front of a crowd of people who are all staring at you, not  to mention the judges.  If you are lucky enough to make the final, you will probably be introduced one by one and have to do the bow solo.  Don’t panic!  Keep it simple and do it with confidence.  

6)  Standing in the wrong order in the line-up – If you end up making it in the top 3, you will go up for the presentation and receive a medal.  Make sure you’re standing in the correct order.  Often times, it gets really confusing, as everyone is standing at different angles to each other, and the wrong couple looks like they are the winner.  Usually, the winning couple will stand beside the presenters for the official photo.  From there, everyone else stands one after another behind the winning couple, girl/boy/girl/boy, all standing parallel to each other.  And just one last tip:  When you go up for your award, please take off your jackets and your previous medals (if you’ve already one something in another event). 


Good luck to everyone at the UBC Gala Ball this weekend!
For more on competition preparation, read some of my previous blogs:

Competition Checklist

5 Steps to a Successful Competition

Leave a Comment

* Copy this password:

* Type or paste password here: