An Open Letter to Dance Moms: What Your Dancer Wants You to Know

Today’s Topic: An Open Letter to Dance Moms – What Your Dancer Wants You to Know | Q&A with Coach Kayla

Hi everyone.  I’m coach Kayla from the Complete Performance Coaching staff.  If you haven’t watched my previous live feed video, “Through the Lens of a Dancer”, it’s helpful for dancers, and dance moms.  I talk about five things a dancer thinks about while performing.  This is super helpful for my dance moms out there because when you’re watching your dancer perform, you can really see things from their perspective.  So if you haven’t watched that video yet, you can watch it here on Facebook.

Today is an extension of what we talked about last time.  I really thought about how dance moms play a very important role in a dancer’s life.  I’ve collaborated with my mom, who’s a dance mom, and my grandma who is a dance mom.  My mom was a dancer for 20 years and my grandma got the luxury of being her dance mom.  I contacted them and we came up with some important things a dance mom should know if a dancer was writing them a letter.

Two Generations of Dance Moms

My mom, my grandma, and I had a great conversation.  We talked about some things that worked and some things that didn’t work in my dance career.  I was a dancer for the San Francisco 49ers for six years and I was a dancer and cheerleader in college, also in high school and at the youth level.  My mom and grandma really got to help me and be a part of my dancing journey.  I was a part of all different levels of dance and it definitely got more complex once I hit the professional level.

Today we’re going to talk about this open letter to dance moms.  Maybe this will also be a great exercise for dance moms and your dancer.  Have your dancer write a letter to you; have them tell you some things they want you to know.

Home Base

The first thing that a dancer would probably want their dance mom to know is that you’re their home base.  The dance world is very judgmental.  It can be critical and anxiety provoking, and there are a lot of eyes on you at all times.  I would always go to my mom and I would be just very anxious.  I would always look to her to help keep me grounded.

You Have the Power

Dance moms, you have a lot of power, probably more than you know.  Your words really have the power to dictate the dancer’s emotions or mood, even how they’re going to perform.  It’s really important that you keep that in mind.  When the dancer is coming to you really anxious, they’re hoping that you will keep them grounded, to bring down the tornado, so to speak.

Everything is Going to be Okay

The next point in something that a dancer would want their dance mom to know is “tell me that everything is going to be okay”.  My mom, I’m going to quote her, said,  “Sometimes what moms think are helpful, are harmful,” and we were kind of laughing about this because sometimes I would come to her and I’d be so anxious and she would say something that would make me even more anxious.  She wasn’t doing it on purpose, but it wasn’t helpful in the moment.  So sometimes dance moms, we just need you to say, “Everything’s going be okay.  You’re great, you’re performance is great, everything is fine.”


A sports psychology technique that a lot of mental skills consultants use, and I like to use, is countering.  I told my mom that it’d be really helpful to use this countering technique, which is whenever a dancer has negative thoughts, you counter the thoughts with facts, logic, and reasoning.  Just stating a fact upfront would really help snap out of and negative or my anxious thought.

An example would be if I felt I didn’t know a dance routine and I was nervous about performing it.  My mom would say, “You know, Kayla, I saw you perform this dance and practice it 30 times.  I saw you do it and you performed it well every time.”

This really helped me take that step back and say, “Oh, she’s right.  I do know the dance.”  It was like my mom was instilling this confidence in me that also helped me keep my anxious and negative thoughts in check.  Also, if I ever had an anxious thought about my coach, she would help by  using the countering technique.  She would say something like, “Your coach said that your jumps were the highest jumps that they’ve seen in a long time and they really noticed your improvement.”  When my mom would say things like that, it would really help me calm down because.  I’d realize she’s right, and say, “Oh, my coach did say that.  You’re right.”

“Tell me what you need.”

The third thing that a dancer would want their dance mom to know is  asking, “What do you need from me right now?”  My mom would always tell me this every morning around 5:00 AM.  I’d be packing for the 49ers game and I’d have this big packing list.  I’d be running around super crazy in the house, and she would just stop and say, “Kayla, what do you need from me right now?”

That was so helpful.  It was just nice and it really alleviated my anxiety knowing that my mom was there to support me and wanted to help me.  Dance moms, you can discuss this with your dancers way in advance, before you even get to that tornado moment or anxious moment.  You can ask your dancer, “Hey, what would you like for me to do for you the morning of your performance?”

Have a Routine

My mom and I used to have this routine with each other.  Every morning at 5:00 AM, while I was doing my makeup, she would do my hair because that meant that I could get an extra hour of sleep.  We used to team up together and do that and it really facilitated my performance because I got the rest I needed.  While I was packing, she was making me breakfast, which saved me even more time.

So dance moms, if you want to create a routine with your dancer, it will make a world of difference; it just makes everything less stressful.  The morning of a performance, just think, “What can I do to alleviate anxiety or help my dancer right now?”  I really encourage you to build a routine with your dancer.

Ground Rules

The last thing that we have is setting ground rules to alleviate anxiety.  My mom and I had this routine where when I was leaving the house, we would go over my packing list together.  She’d say, “Do you have your boots?  Do you have your poms?”  I would say “Yes, yes.”  Then we had this rule that when I was leaving the house, she wouldn’t contact me for 30 minutes because if she called me, I’d think that I forgot something which would get me anxious.

Maybe that’s not going to work for everyone (not every dancer is driving right now) but that’s just something that worked for me.  I would text her when I got to the stadium and I would say, “Okay, now we can talk if there’s anything you want to say.”

Hand Off the Camera

Another rule that we had was to give someone else the camera while I was performing because I really wanted my mom to watch me.  I told her to just give someone else the camera.

Quick Response

Afterwards, we had this rule that when I was done performing for pregame performances, we would go back to the locker room and I’d only have 10 minutes to talk.  I would text her and say, “Mom, how did I do?”  So we had this rule of when I text right after a performance, please, please, please respond and give me positive feedback because I only have 10 minutes to talk.  If my mom didn’t text me in that 10 minutes, I would get anxious.

We just had so many ground rules and it made a fun conversation and discussion.  I would tell her, “This is what I need from you to help me thrive on game day and in my performance.”

Those are the top four things that a dancer would probably want their dance mom to know if they were to write them a letter.  Dance moms, I really encourage you to have a conversation with your dancers.  Tell them to write you a letter and you can write them a letter as well.  Think about certain routines that you can come up with together that can help alleviate any anxiety for your dancer and help them thrive on game day or competition day.

Also, really practice the countering technique.  If your dancer comes to you with any anxious, negative thought, try and counteract with facts, logic, or reasoning.  Also be mindful that, most of the time, your dancer is already coming to you super anxious,  so be mindful of the power you hold.  All of your words can really have the power to dictate their performance and their overall thoughts.

That’s what I have for you today.  Make sure you book a coaching session with me at  I specialize in working with dancers and cheerleaders and I would love to work with you.

Thanks for tuning in!

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