Cheri Kennedy with client. Photo: cherrikennedy.com
This is a very common question, especially for contestants on tight pageant budgets. Pageantry is a sport and just like any other sport, there are coaches and other people who can help identify your strengths and weaknesses and help you grow as a contestant. But, plenty of titleholders have won without a coach.
"I think having a pageant coach can be an advantage but is not at all necessary," said Sydney Marsh, The Pageant Planet's Queen of Interview. "For many contestants, meeting with a coach is not a feasible option for money-related, distance or other reasons. Does that mean a girl without a coach cannot win? Definitely not."
As we've stated, plenty of girls have won without a coach. But that doesn't mean you should go into the game without some background knowledge. (Read: How to Win a Pageant Without a Coach)
"If you are committed to DIY-ing your pageant, I would recommend watching your chosen pageant in previous years, interviewing past titleholders, videotaping yourself in every area of the competition and watching all footage with an improving eye, having multiple people proofread your paperwork, and setting up multiple mock interview sessions for yourself," said Sarah Wall Beckman, interview and pageant coach. (Read: Who Should Read Your Pageant Paperwork Before You Submit It)
While you can gain a lot of knowledge from watching the footage, there is rarely any of the interview portion. Doing mock interviews with an interview coach can help you understand how you come across to the person on the other side of the table, which is actually great information to have in real world situations, anyway.
"Girls who feel like they can't reasonably obtain a coach to help them have a lot of reliable, affordable resources such as former or current titleholders and YouTube videos they can consult," suggested Marsh. "Also, practicing in front of a mirror or a trusted family member/friend can make all the difference. When you see what you look like, you'll better understand what you want to fix or improve. For interview, practicing to yourself or with an adult in a 'mock' setting is another form of great prep." (Read: Guidelines for Parents When Practicing for a Pageant)
As we mentioned, there are times when it would be helpful to have a coach's insight.
"If you feel confident about your on-stage performance skills but feel unsure of how your platform or interview will measure up, consider hiring a pageant interview expert like me once or twice to give you some feedback of how you compare and get some fresh strategy inspiration," explained Beckman.
Coaches also help in other areas of competition. This is especially helpful if you haven't competed in a while, are changing systems, or are moving up in age divisions as the requirements, expectations and styles change. (Read: How to Choose a New Pageant System When You Have Aged Out)
"The benefit of a coach is to have someone with a lot of experience in the industry guiding you in your prep," Marsh said. "Different types of coaches can help you perfect different parts of competition – there are coaches for walking, stage presence, interview and everything else!"
Sarah Wall Beckman with client Maddie Hickey, Contestant in Miss Minnesota's Outstanding Teen Local. Photo/Sarah Wall Beckman
If you have been stuck at first runner-up, not making semi-finals, unsure what you're doing wrong, or just want to make sure you're doing everything you can to improve and win the crown, a coach is definitely something to consider. (Read: How Far in Advance Should You Get a Coach?)
After all, you can WebMD your symptoms all day long but eventually, you go to the doctor, right?
"The surest and quickest way to a win is to hire an experienced coach who knows your pageant system," Beckman said. "When you hire a coach, it's like gaining access to all their years of experience. Plus, a gifted coach will be able to see potential in you that you might not believe is there."
Finding the Right Coach
Just like any other sport, finding the right coach and coaching style for you is important for developing a working and prosperous relationship.
Make sure the coach is worth your time, effort and money. Look for reviews and references from other pageant girls, especially in the system you are looking at competing in. (Read: Top 10 Pageant Coaches of 2016 and Top 5 Pageant Talent Coaches of 2016)
You can also visit our directory for help finding a pageant coach.
"In addition, we at The Pageant Planet offer all of the above resources and more at an affordable monthly rate," said Marsh. "Practice makes perfect!"
Above all, trust yourself and work within your budget. You can always do a bit here or there with a coach or take on the pageant on your own.
"Like a personal trainer can push you to lift more than you ever thought you could, a gifted pageant coach can help you achieve dreams larger than you have ever allowed yourself to dream," Beckman said.
No matter what happens, just remember, there is always another year, another pageant and another chance at a crown. Trust us, there are a lot of pageants out there and you can find one on The Pageant Planet.
So, the question is, how badly do you want it and how prepared and confident do you want to feel on stage?
Her tip is: "Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made.”Learn More