Savannah Miller has had a baton in her hand for about as long as she can remember, and through tremendous dedication and hard work, she has won numerous titles on the national and world level, and was the featured twirler at the University of Arkansas, entertaining thousands. She also has worldwide acclaim when videos of her performances went viral. She is so amazingly generous with tips and tricks and pieces of advice that have contributed to her success. I picked her brain on competition, training, balancing baton and the rest of her busy life, choreography, performances and her sweetest victories. She’s a firecracker and an absolute doll and I know you all will learn so much from her!
On the importance of dance in her twirling career: “When growing up with Heidi (her very first baton/dance teacher) having the dance studio, we always took ballet. We always took jazz. So i grew up dancing and I was on my high school dance team and captain. I’m now going back to school to get my dance degree, so dance has always been a part of my life. And i’m so grateful that dance has given me that second outlet and kind of taking my mind off of twirling and such high stress situations. I always had the dance world and going to dance class every night and getting to go to New York and dance, that kind of gave me that relief of like, “Oh I am a normal human. I don’t always have to focus on the twirling world. Having that dance growing up has definitely made me not only a stronger competitor in the twirling world, but also a better coach and realizing these kids do need this dance training. I mean, just learning what the ballet terms are. There’s so many twirler out there that don’t have that dance training and just having that basic knowledge alone makes them learn so much faster and then a more well rounded twirler. So I am so grateful that i had that as a kid.”
On staying motivated: “I definitely have those days that I do not want to practice whatsoever. We were always a very goal oriented family, so my dad would sit down and he’d be like, “Okay, well, what are your goals? What are your goals this year? What are your goals academically? I feel like everything we did in life, we had a goal, and so knowing what your goals are, knowing what you want out of whatever sport you’re doing, is the most important part. As I said, there are days that I don’t want to go to the gym and practice, and there are days that i could spend twenty hours in the gym if i could, but it’s really knowing and reminding myself what i’m working for and how badly do I want it? So waking up every day and reminding myself of that really gives me that motivation to want to go and practice, even if it’s only for thirty minutes. There’s some days where I don’t have time in my day to go practice for five hours and most of the time I don’t wanna practice for five hours. I’ve never been an athlete. Who wants to spend hour upon hour upon hour doing one trick or one routine? And so if i go into a gym, do what I need to do, and get it done, and go be a normal human the rest of the day then. That itself is enough motivation to go and do it for me. A lot of my motivation does come from having goals and making sure I know every day when I wake up that this is what I’m gonna do to get closer to those goals today.”
On handling the pressure of competition: “When I got to the world competition after having done really well the year before, I kind of found myself having nerves again because there was such a level of expectation that I had never felt before. And so with the help of my coaches, we kinda found more of a routine to make sure that I am not in my head when I walk out onto the floor. So if you ever come to a competition or people see me, I always have my headphones in out of competition. The last couple world championships I had been blown away by the response and that videos of my routines have gone viral, but that also adds the pressure. So it’s learning that I’m not doing it to be viral on social media, I’m not doing it to get attention, I’m not doing it just to win. I’m doing it because i love the sport. And so you’ll find me with my headphones and listening to fun music or whatever is gonna put me in the right mind, to make sure that i’m going to be successful. And then another thing too is I never listened to the scores of the person before me. I have soundproof headphones my coaches make me wear whenever scores of my biggest competitors are being called. So it’s learning that I’m again there to compete for myself and only compete against myself. I’m trying to be better than who I was the day before and so realizing that and then also trying not to get distracted by just zoning in that time for yourself before you take the floor has always made me mentally a stronger twirler.”
On handling negativity from others: “There have been times I’ve called my mom and dad crying over something that someone has said or something that was commented. I talked about all the great feedback I’ve gotten but there has been so much more horrible things that people have said. So it’s learning to again know what your goals are and to be different. I mean, there are so many incredible people in our world that are different and they’re making such an impact! So learning to ignore all that negativity and taking all that positive energy you’re getting and concentrate on that. A lot of people making negative comments don’t know you, they don’t know what you’re going through in your life, and if you wanna to be successful, having a positive outlook is going to be the best thing for you. So just knowing that and knowing what your goals are is just going to help you so much. Not only with getting bad feedback in school or in a sport. You’re always going to have that, or people talking about you. That’s just part of life, so it’s learning to push through and let it go in one ear and out the other. Surrounding yourself with people who love you and who are always going to give you that positivity and sometimes negativity when you need it. Those couple things are gonna just make you keep fighting for what you wanna do.”