A cue is a prompt or direction about what to do. We’re exposed to cues about movement all the time in the form of signs such as, “Please keep right,” or “DANGER: DO NOT WALK ON THE ICE."
Do you think they meant alternative forms of locomotion are okay? Or did they mean, “Stay off the ice?”
I’m reallllly into cues. Why? Because the right words have the power to make something you’ve done thousands of times feel totally new. The right phrase can transform your understanding, help you drop a bad habit, or even release some emotional baggage.
Here are 7 ideas to help you become a better cuer. Even if you have no intention of teaching, these exercises are guaranteed to make you more aware of your movement:
Identify exactly what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it-- starting with the way you connect with the ground. You have to know what's happening before you can describe it.
Transforming sensation into intelligible sentences is tough; practice it. For five minutes straight, move slowly and verbalize what you’re doing (as in, talk out loud). Be as detailed as possible. Speak as though there is no insignificant piece of information.
Start to love the quest for words and phrases that describe actions precisely, and concisely. Search for action-based words and even onomatopoeias/sound effects (such as swooooosh and saaahhhh) that explain what you are doing better than a long sentence could.
Listen to and analyze cues regularly. You can do this by attending and observing classes or by watching instructional videos. If you hear good cues, think about why it was good. If it wasn’t, what could/should have been said?
There’s no such thing as a perfect cue for all audiences. Cues are a method of communicating that must be comprehended to be effective. Rather than recycling the same words for all audiences, it’s important to communicate with your audience in a way they will understand. Find simple ways to explain complex actions while continually deepening your technical knowledge and vocabulary.
In order to forge a positive connection with those who are listening to you, you must connect with them. Be patient, kind, and authentic. Your demeanor has a lot to do with how your words are received.
Rather than saying “don’t…don’t…don’t,” aim to cue with, “do…do…do." Cue in ways that eliminate the unwanted outcome, while specifying what you do want. This tip may appear to require knowledge of what tends to go ‘wrong.’ However, by knowing what you want, you also know what you don’t want.
Example: You want someone to raise their arms in an externally rotated position without bending the elbows, thrusting the ribs, or shoulder shrugging. You could say something like, “Raise your arms without moving your spine or elevating your shoulders. Externally rotate your arms and don't bend your elbows." Not only were there a lot of "don'ts," these words are only effective if the person listening can apply the information to their current level of body awareness and control.
Another way to ask for the same thing is: “Keep the base of your rib cage exactly where it is [pause, and show where with touch], and keep the back your neck long. Then, float your fingertips to the ceiling with straight elbows, thumbs back.” Yes, that was a lot of info, but imagine it was delivered slowly along with a visual demonstration. The don’ts were presented as do’s, and many common form issues were prevented beforehand.
Happy cueing! And don’t forget to do EXACTLY what public signs tell you to do ; ) Have a photo of you “following directions”? Share it with me with tag #FMCUEING.