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Finding a good DanceSport Coach ...


Competitive Ballroom (DanceSport) is a different animal from social dancing. Success in DanceSport requires good coaching. But given that anyone can hang up a shingle and call themselves a DanceSport Coach, how does one find a good qualified coach? Here are some tips: 


  • Obviously, successful competition at a very high level is one possible indicator of a good coach. As Judi Hatton, First Vice President of NDCA and formerly one of the top 12 dance couples in the world, says, "A good coach must have been successful at a very high level." Some questions to consider - 

    • What is the highest level they competed at?

    • How many competitions have they competed in and how big were the competitions?

    • What are their competition results?

    • How many contested titles have they won?

  • Are they teaching levels they never competed at? If so, walk away.

  • Are they active competitors?

    • If they are still active competitors, how often do they compete?

    • How large are the competitions?

    • What are the results?

  • Do they compete in USA Dance?

    • If they compete in USA Dance, check their "proficiency points" online here. Proficiency points are accumulated by scoring higher than fellow competitors in competition. A score of 100 or higher at any level means the competitor has "pointed out" at that level and is no longer eligible to compete at that level. (Obviously, you never point out at the highest level - Championship.)

    • Pointing out is a good indicator of proficiency at that level.

    • Low proficiency points are reason to question alleged proficiency.

  • Keep in mind that a good dancer is not necessarily a good coach. Ask,

    • Who else do they coach and what kind of results have their students achieved?

    • How many contested titles have their students won?

  • A good DanceSport coach must have a strong background in DanceSport. Strong skills in other dance disciplines (i.e., Hip-Hop, Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet, etc) does not necessarily mean they are strong in DanceSport.

  • Run from any coach who implies they are the only coach you should see on a regular basis

  • Are they threatened when you take coaching from other coaches? If so, walk away. You should always have the freedom to take coaching from whomever you want, whenever you wish. It's your money.

  • The best coaches are also certified "adjudicators" (judges). They know what DanceSport judges are looking for.

  • DanceSport continues to evolve.

    • Are they themselves still taking coaching?

    • With whom?

    • How often?

  • Who is being promoted more? The coach? ... or their students? A good coach does not need to spend time promoting themselves. His/her accomplishments speak for themselves.

  • What kind of a reputation do they have in the DanceSport community? Ask other competitors.

  • What kind of reputation do they have in studios, other than where they teach?

  • Some instructors advertise their time spent with well-known ballroom coaches. Their list of coaches is impressive. But ask how many lessons they actually had with each coach - one or two lessons does not really qualify as it's almost impossible to get meaningful feedback in such a short amount of time. There's a difference between taking 1 or 2 lessons with many different coaches to "check the block" and taking several lessons for meaningful coaching.

  • Are they in demand? Good coaches are in demand - not just locally, but nationally.

  • A coach who is consistently late for your scheduled lessons is rude and inconsiderate. Find another coach.

  • Ask other successful competitors who they take coaching with.

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