The most common question I receive about popping is how long it takes to be “good” at it. The problem is that “good” means something different to everyone. For most beginners, “good” means popping at a dance party to impress your friends and the people surrounding the circle. For others, good means battling other poppers and being respected by them. These two definitions of “good” are on completely different levels. Now the shocker: Your definition of “good” gets higher as you improve so you never really reach it! Here are my two best tips for achieving your quest to be good: Enjoying the journey of improvement, and focus on practice time.
Enjoying the journey of improvement! If you can do this, then you will have fun every day instead of drudging through months of hard practice until one day you hope to magically become “good” (day never comes). If you can enjoy the struggle and the success of making a wave smoother, stopping sharper, or hit harder, then you will have more fun, which translates to you spending more time practicing. More time practicing = faster improvement. I clearly remember not being able to do a simple boogaloo roll and doing it over and over again until I finally got the motion was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. This feeling kept me going. I also vividly remember trying to coordinate breathing with chest hits for weeks before it finally came together. Enjoyed this process of improvement (not being able to do something, working hard, and then noticing the change) kept me motivated. It felt better than chasing after a goal of being “good” like a hamster on an exercise wheel.
Practice time is key. The amount of time you practice is the single biggest factor on how quickly you improve. More practice = faster you improve. I recommend beginners practice for 1 hr a day to see good results. If you wanted to improve twice as fast you could do 2 or more hours a day, but for most people who have school or work, this is simply unrealistic. Let’s compare two people that have both been dancing for one year. Joe practiced once a week for an hour, and Ray practiced every day for an hour. Ray will be 7X better even though they have both been dancing for one year! There are other minor factors such as your previous dance experience (I had zero when I started), but the bottom line is the more practice = faster improvement. You get out of it what you put in. In reality, one hour a week can be tough. Sometimes I would have busy weeks in high school between homework and hockey practice so I would skip popping, but then on the weekend I would practice for 4 or more hours. It averaged out to one hour a day. If you try to be a hero and practice for eight hours per day that could be great, but it simply wouldn’t be fun, and having fun is really important to staying motivated in the beginning stages.