Pageant prep can be daunting. For years girls relied on local directors to help prep them for state and/or nationals. But as pageants became more expensive and competition gets stiffer, coaches entered the arena.
You, as a pageant girl, don't have a front office staff or a league to help you pick your coach.
You have to be your own version of an NCAA Compliance Staff and Search Committee to weed through your options and pick a coach with a proven track record in your system, compatibility with you, and on your budget. You also need to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to work with them before you take the stage.
Picking a Coach
One of the toughest things to do as a pageant girl is picking a coach. This is especially important if you are switching systems, moving up in divisions, and/or have not competed in a while. Walking trends change, ideal body type ideals shift, interviews vary by system, even paperwork needs to be adjusted depending on your system and age division. "Contestants should look for a proven track records of winners.
Your coach should have results to show you," said Samantha Riddle, Miss International 2014 and Director of the Miss and Miss Teen Los Angeles County International Pageant. "Contestants need to make sure they choose a coach who is familiar and has proven winners in the exact system she is choosing to compete in." Believe it or not, some coaches have never been competitors in pageant world and some are also male.
Riddle said, "Some coaches have never competed themselves, but have coached lots of girls to win. The same goes for the opposite. Just because a coach has won a specific title it doesn't mean they can teach you to win. I cannot express how important a proven track record of winners is."
Think about it, Miss J from America's Next Top Model is male but a fantastic high fashion runway coach and walks better in heels than many girls we see in public and Sandra Bullock's coach in Miss Congeniality was male.
How Soon Should You See Your Coach?
As soon as you sign up for a pageant-contact your coach! You need to set up times with them as depending on where we are in pageant season they could be very busy. Interview Contact your Interview coach ASAP. Why? So they can go over your pageant paperwork before you submit it.
Remember, we've talked about that before. Perfect pageant paperwork is the first and sometimes the longest a judge has to look at you. They scrutinized over that paperwork longer than the 5-10 minutes you'll be standing/sitting in front of them so making sure they "see" you before they see you is important.
Your interview coach will also be able to start formatting questions based on your paperwork and your system for you to work on. They can also send you current event information and maybe even be nice and put it together in a binder for you to carry around (popular in MAO).
Some interview coaches, Valerie Hayes and yours truly The Pageant Planet, post Current Event Questions and Questions of the Day on social media and analyze answers for contestants for free. They read the response submitted and pick the best ones to highlight so be sure to follow on Instagram (@valeriemhayes and @pageantplanet). After all, everyone can use some free advice.
The key to a perfect pageant walk is muscle memory. That doesn't mean that practice make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect. A band director once said you had to do something right 100 times before it became habit. With only 10 hours of rehearsal a week, and a new show each week, we had to get moving. Online research stated that you needed 10,000 hours of practice at something for it to become habit. A HuffPost article said, "On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic -- 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances."
The sooner you start to get your walk down and the more you practice it, the better. You do not have to be on stage or even in your shoes or wardrobe to do it. Walk like you want that crown every chance you get. Worried your co-workers or classmates will look at you like you have lost your mind? Then pageant walk down the stairs instead of gliding into the elevator (FYI stages might have stairs).
Going to the restroom?
As soon as that door closes behind you saunter to that stall and saunter out no matter how badly you have to go; chances are you'll probably have to go whether from nerves or water on pageant day anyway so practice walking and holding it now. If some one sees you, don't be embarrassed instead lift your chin up, play your Aerosmith/Run DMC "Walk This Way" soundtrack in your head, and Moonwalk your confident self onto the rest of your day.
Depending on the shape you are in already, how often you go to the gym, and your areas of competition can alter how often and how intense you work out for pageant prep. However, you want to put your best body forward, swimsuit/fitness wear competition or not. A healthy looking girl looks the part and just think how even more awesome your gown will look when there is an amazing body and a confident girl who feels amazing about herself wearing it.
Brian Attebery is the owner of Results Fitness and Nutrition Center in Edmond, Oklahoma and trains pageant girls across the country online and in person. You have seen his girls on the Miss USA, Miss America, and numerous other pageant stages. He has a gallery of pageant girls on his website and on the wall in his office. The success comes from his approach. It's not about unhealthy diets and endless days in the gym.
"I think the main point of swimsuit prep is about learning how to take care of yourself in a healthy way for a lifestyle," Attebery explained, "Consequently, to me, swimsuit prep is not about weight loss but about body sculpting and shaping to not only get lean but shape the body with the right amount of muscle tone in the right places." This attention to detail takes time and while changes can be seen in a short amount of time by Brian and his girls, the judges need to see it too. For the healthy, glowing, energized body inside and out that we see from Brian's girls, you need to give yourself time, "This process should not be any less than 12 weeks and preferably 6 months or more to have time to develop the body to its maximum potential for that year's competition," he said.
How Often Should You See Your Coach
Thankfully the internet has allowed for access to coaches without needing to be in the same state. There are amazing coaches all across the country and your can access them via their websites, Skype, Facetime, or any other web format. Coaching phone calls are also very helpful, like the ones here at The Pageant Planet, for interview and just talking things over about the competition. However, when you need a visual for walking, wardrobe, or fitness-the internet brings your coach to you as often as your pageant budget will allow.
Depending on your coach and budget, the average seems to be about 2-3 meetings. Of course, more is always optional. " any coach at least twice," said Jesse Ladoue, Miss International 2013 and The Pageant Planet's Queen of Fashion. She said the first meeting needs to be well in advance to identify and target areas of improvement. The second meeting should come close to the competition in order to touch up anything prior to pageant day. "Preferably at least once more in between," Ladoue said. That middle meeting is important especially with your fitness trainer. This meeting will allow your trainer to adjust your training regimen based on your progress. If you have plateaued, experienced an injury or set back, or not able to commit to the regimen as is you need to get meet with your trainer ASAP to make adjustments, even if you just started.
Why a Coach?
Coaches don't exist soley to criticize and train you. They really are there to help you. Sometimes that means an encouraging word or calming you down in the midst of a wardrobe malfunction. Some coaches will call before and after your interview time to encourage you and see how it went. Some coaches will meet with you as many times as you need to feel comfortable and confident all for one low price (Pageant Box Membership for example).
Imagine what would happen if a football team went out to play without a coach. Imagine an Olympic Ice Skater or Gymnast before an individual competition. Our parents may have footed the bill and while encouraging they can be distracting. That's why, no matter the competition arena, they are usually in the audience overcome with emotion. Your coach, they're your conscience, your cricket on your shoulder, your fairy godmother. They are the voice of reason, they get why you are doing this crazy pageant thing, and they want you to bring home that crown.
Her tip is: "Enjoy networking and remembering you are competing against yourself not others!"Learn More