Vision Boards and goal setting for dance

Visualisation and Vision Boards

Vision boards are not only an incredibly powerful tool to fast track dancer success though goal setting but are a super fun dance  project too! These are a great project for the last lesson of term or for dance camp. What could be better!? Before we start to talk about vision boards, lets explore visualisation a little first and think about how we, as dance teachers can utilise it in our teaching. Visualisation is a key tool in the field of Sports Psychology and works on the premise that athlete performance can be significantly influenced by images, thoughts and scenarios playing in the mind.  Matt Neason  notes that “one the most powerful effects of good visualization is that it programs the subconscious brain”.

athlete performance can be significantly influenced by images, thoughts and scenarios playing in the mind

Neason likens the subconscious brain to a self guiding missile which seeks out its target.  When the subconscious is programmed with positive images and focussed on goals, the subconscious will move towards these. We all know that dancers can be hard on themselves. When a dancer dwells on failure, focusses on what could go wrong or is in a fixed mindset, the subconscious mind doesn’t simply ignore this. Just as the subconscious  mind can lead  you towards success, it can also, when programmed, lead to failure. Neason likens it to a car GPS. The GPS doesn’t judge whether the location is the right place for you to be going, it just takes you there (well, to be fair, mine sometimes points out that a place might be closed when I arrive, but you get the general idea). As a dance educator, I have no doubt that visualisation plays a powerful role in dance. A few weeks ago I stood side stage watching a student about to execute double turn that she had been struggling with in class. The execution of a clean double is well within her capabilities except that she is SO sure that she can’t do it. Sometimes in class, she will do the turn and then hold up for so long on the end that she is bound to fall. When she inevitably falls, even after what coud have been a clean double, she takes this as an affirmation that she is, indeed, no good at turns.  Her subconscious is completely consumed by negativity and failure, she is in full fixed mindset mode. I stood side stage I watched her prepare, I saw her tense, then shift her front foot,  effectively sabotaging her turn. Once again, the negative movie playing her her mind, guided her straight towards the inevitable outcome.

one of the most powerful effects good visualisation is that it programs the subconscious brain- Matt Neason

Goal Setting and dancer success

We’ve explored goal setting and dancer success on the blog before and visualisation and vision boards are closely related to this. In our article on goal setting, we talked about having a central goal, breaking it down into main goals, sub goals and actionable steps. Think of the vision board as a visual representation of the central and main goals. No only are vision boards an incredibly powerful tool in terms of goal setting and fast tracking dancer success BUT they are pretty and fun to make! Pretty! Fun! Say no more!

vision board dancers

5 Benefits of Vision Boards for Dancers

  1. Vision boards help a dancer to set goals.  We’ve talked before about the importance of goals setting in dance. Goal setting  is a complex process that many adults struggle with. Vision boards help break the process down.
  2. Vision boards provide a visual representation  of a dancer’s goals. They set them in concrete. Rather than just having a vague notion that they would like to improve their flexibility, they can wake up every morning and see exactly what it is that they want to achieve. This in turn helps guide the subconscious towards success.
  3. Vision boards provide motivation, especially when practicing is starting to become a chore. Vision boards provide a visual link between the day to day stretching exercises and the eventual goal.  Next time your dancer is complaining about doing their stretching you can casually point at their vision board. Win!!!
  4. Vision Boards program the subconscious brain just by their very presence. Just by being in your dancer’s line of sight, provides the subconscious with a visual representation of the ideal. This is turn  programs the internal GPS for success.
  5. Vision boards are fun and pretty, and well…… fun and pretty!

How to make a Vision Board

And now to the really fun part!  Making your vision board.  There are all sorts of ways to make a Vision Board. If you are setting the Vision Board as homework, suggest a pin board so that pictures etc can be easily swapped out.  If you are doing it as an in class project, a big sheet of card stock is probably more economical.

  1. In the weeks before, gather up old dance magazines, ask the kids to bring some in and print out and photocopy a bunch of inspirational images and words from google images and organize pin boards or cardboard sheets.
  2. Begin by brainstorming goals to help guide what kind of images they may be searching for. Help them to sort the images into groups and discuss how they may relate to their dance goals.
  3. Let them get to work with the images, arranging them on the pin board adding decorations, words or encouragement, whatever they like! The set up of your vision board is limited only by their imagination

Vison boards are such a fun and extremely powerful tool to help your dancer on the road to success. They help your dancer to focus on their goals, to connect the work they are doing each day with their hopes and dreams. Vision boards serve as a constant reminder of what to work on and why do work on it.  Most dance parents report that their kids never stop dancing. This is so great, but imagine how amazing it would be if all this energy was channelled into working towards and achieving goals.  The Dancer Vision Board is a powerful tool that can make this happen,


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