Santa Coach is Coming to Town!

December 13, 2015 Caroleeena CoachinghoopdanceHoopingUncategorized


For the end of this year I would like to introduce a gift-giving game — the gift of thoughtful, deep, coaching feedback. If you’re interested, drop your name below and then record and share a hoopdance by December 19. I will notify everyone of who they are coaching on the 19th. Then you’ll have between then and Christmas to give them their coaching.

My present to you in all this is to help you be better coaches, which will, in turn, make you better hoopdancers because the person you will coach more than anyone else is YOU!

Making Your Dance

  • Choose a song. I recommend choosing a song about three minutes long. That will give you time for lots of changes and variety and it will give your coach a lot to work with but not so much that it feels overwhelming.
  • Feel free to costume in a way that fits the story your dance is telling.
  • Start with a beginning pose and end with an ending pose.
  • If you decide to use an l.e.d. hoop, make sure there is other light in the room also. The dancer is more important than the hoop. Your coach will need to see you to give you good feedback.
  • If you like your dance, consider submitting it for a Top Hat Award in January!


  • I encourage coaches to give at least two paragraphs of deep and specific feedback (See the checklists below for help with that.)
  • Use the Praise Sandwich method of giving feedback. (Detailed below.)
  • Use timestamps to indicate specific moves. (For example, “I liked the way you directed your gaze back over your shoulder at 2:13.)

More On Offering Good Coaching Feedback

The following is guidance for giving coaching feedback in the Putting The Dance In Hoopdance group. I put it in this blog post so there’s lots of guidance in one place for your reference:

I encourage everyone to give Coaching Feedback. If you want comments on your videos, give them to other people. Here is how to give meaningful, helpful coaching.

– Compliments light us up when they are specific. So does critique. “That was great” doesn’t mean as much as “I loved that turn you did at 3:20.”

– We are all here because we want to add more dance to our hoopdance. We can help each other do that by giving specific feedback about what we like, what we think would make a dance even better, and, then recounting what is working overall. This is called a Praise Sandwich. (Praise, Critique, Praise of overall work.)

– There is always more working than not so giving special attention to what is working is important because the listener is likely to give special attention to any call for improvement. They/we need twice the reminder of what’s working. For the praise part, be specific. If you don’t know what a move is called, say, “I like the bit at 1:10.” Easy peasy.

– The more challenging part is giving coaching feedback. Saying, “Your pirouette could be improved” is not helpful. How could it be improved? Be specific. “If you touch your toe to your knee, I think you’ll have better balance.” <–Specific.

– Use softening language to allow the listener to take in, or discard, your feedback. Phrases like, “Consider adding…” or “You might try…” allow them the choice of whether or not to take that bit in and also conveys that your feelings won’t be hurt if they don’t. We are all just “considering” and “trying”. Saying “Maybe if you do this” makes it clear that you are offering suggestions rather than hard and fast rules. You can also say, “I think it would be pretty (or stronger or make nice lines or easier or insert adjective here” if you did this ____.” That’s just your opinion and doesn’t make the listener feel bad or wrong. Finally, be willing to share your own experience. You can say, “Two things that I use a lot when I’m trying to incorporate in my hoop dancing are…” These are your experiences that another might benefit from but have no judgment in the tellin at all.

The goal of coaching is to observe, assess, figure out what’s working and what could be improved, and then GIVE THAT FEEDBACK so the person can improve. Keeping it to yourself and hoping they figure it out doesn’t help them. If you think a little tweak would improve a move, wrap it in some compliments and say so! It’s a gift. I know it requires courage but, again, we are here because we all want to get better. Plus, it creates connection. It makes the person getting the feedback feel seen, valued, and lets them know that you care enough to genuinely want to help them be every bit as good as they are capable of being.

Finally, always wrap up with a synopsis of what is working overall. If someone moves their hands a lot or in a pretty way, say so. The rest is just technique and can be improved upon but it can’t be if people are not using their hands. Point out the overall aspect that is working in the dancer’s favor. If it’s the last thing you leave them with, it resonates more.

Giving Coaching Feedback requires courage, time, and empathy but it is a huge gift. We are all capable of coaching and it is a life skill that serves us well, inside and out of the hoop. I encourage you to remember and utilize the Praise Sandwich, to be specific in your compliments and your critique, and to remember that the word “encourage” literally means to give courage. Give people the courage to be their highest and best selves. It will return to you multiplied. (If you are ever nervous about how your coaching may come across, send it to me in an email and I will help you tweak it. We can learn to be better coaches together.)

Specific Things To Note For Feedback

  • Starting Pose
  • Ending Pose
  • Handwork, Armwork, Fingerwork
  • Footwork, Turns, and Traveling Steps
  • Expression
  • Directed Gaze
  • Characterization
  • Mood
  • Use of Levels
  • Variations in Speed
  • Energy (Variations and how it reflects the mood, music, and/or lyrics)
  • Poses and Pauses
  • Beat Punctuation
  • Musicality
  • Use of the Space
  • Repetition and Alternation
  • Connection with the Audience
  • Aspects of Movement that tell the Story of the Song

Sign up to Coach and Submit your Video Here:

I hope you enjoy this experience. Check in with your self-talk. Be a good cheerleader for yourself as you move through this process. You can do it. If you need reassurance about that, or if you have questions, reach out and I will help. I can hardly wait to see what you come up with!

Hugs and lots of love,

Santa Coach

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