When you’re going to competition, your focus should be doing your best and enjoying the experience, right? But, it’s not always that easy.

Distractions can increase nerves and rattle your concentration more than having your hairpiece fly off your head mid-Cha Cha. The list of unwanted surprises that can get you off your game includes (but is certainly not limited to!):

  • missing your flight (or a lengthly delay, where you find yourself slapping on makeup moments before your heat)
  • not having your hotel room available
  • having a shoe break (or forgetting to pack them!)
  • a  streaky spray tan that looks like a watercolor painting
  • wondering where your partner is when they’re calling your number!

However, one thing that shouldn’t be on the list is picking up your stuff at REGISTRATION.

Although you may not have any control over other factors, you can help make ballroom competition registration at the event go smoothly and quickly.


dance competition registration entries

Before the Competition:

Get Entries in on Time

The best way to ensure an easy time at the registration desk to have everything in order before the event starts. Organizers have entry deadlines to help them organize and group the events.

If a late entry comes in, it might be necessary to then create a semi-final where there once was only a final.

This means adding time to the entire schedule to accommodate the new round.

To ensure you are in the events you want to compete, try to adhere to the deadline. This includes professional couples too!

Pay on Time

Paying at the time you send your entries is a best practice and respectful to the organizers. When you enter a competition, time and money is spent on you before you even step foot on the dance floor.

Trophies or gifts are ordered in advance for you, time is spent reviewing and organizing your entries, and also for any communications needed to confirm or clarify your entries.

For your benefit, paying ahead of time might also allow you different payment options, depending on the competition.

Cash is KING and most competitions accept only cash at the event itself. If credit cards are accepted, be prepared to pay a service fee.

Competitor ID

Rookie and professional mistake:

Don’t leave home without your competitor registration ID!

Yes, even if you’re a well-known professional, be respectful and compliant when asked for your card. The front desk team doesn’t know if you have a current card or not.

Pros and amateurs are required to show their current NDCA card for the year. IDSF competitors need to show both an NDCA card and USA Dance registration. Students dancing pro-am are not required to register, nor are student-student entrants.

NDCA registration begins and ends in a calendar year, not a year from when you register.

For example, if you register in November, your card will expire a month later on Dec. 31. To get the most out of your registration fee, register at the beginning of the year.


When asked to show your card, the actual card is need to verify your current status. (not just your number, which generally doesn’t change from year to year.)

If you are a traveling abroad, bring your country’s member card and WDC card to prove your eligible to compete.

Registering at the event

Sometimes, you might register right before a competition, and therefore at the event the NDCA list may not yet be update to show your current status. In this case, it is best to bring your receipt or an email showing you are paid for the year.

Pro tip: Take a photo of your current/updated card on your phone (you’ll always have it with you!)


If you arrive at the registration desk without a receipt or membership card, and you are either not registered or registered recently but are not yet showing on the roster, you will be spending extra time at the desk.

Registering at an event will cost you a surcharge, which could be avoided with better preparation.

Not registered yet? No time like the present! Do it NOW!


click to register with the NDCA


click to register with USA Dance


…Okay, so we’ll assume you have been organized and prompt in submitting your entries and payments.

Now you’re at the event, and there are a few more things that will get you past the administration desk quickly and onto the dance floor.

Registration and picking up entries:


Arrive Early

According to veteran registration desk coordinator, Jan Lactaoen, the number one tip is to be punctual!

Give yourself plenty of time to pick up your tickets and number, keeping in mind that there might be a line at the desk, or changes in the schedule that have shifted your dances earlier in the program.

Who’s in Charge?

If you are with a studio, there should be one designated person who will pick up for the entire studio. Many times a competitor is running up frantically right before their dances to the desk to pick up their door ticket only to find out someone else in their group has it, and that person is either on the dance floor or nowhere to be found.

Of course that dancer has now lost all focus for a good competition!

This can be easily avoided by having the designated “leader” register the night before the event and distribute all tickets and heat sheets to the other dancers, prior to the start of the events.

Who’s Picking Up the Check?

If you are dancing pro-am, communicate clearly with your teacher beforehand as to which tickets you are purchasing and if you are on a package, what exactly is included.

If you haven’t followed the earlier advice of paying in advance, also clearly establish with the teacher who will be paying upon arrival.

Is the teacher/studio paying and you will pay them back, or are you, the student, paying at the door?

Go Pro, Teachers

Studio owners and/or professional instructors should pick up packages, tickets, gifts, etc for all their students upon arrival.

If one of your students has a balance due, have them accompany you to the desk and take care of it when you pick up everything.

Remember your student is relying on your experience and professionalism to walk them through the administrative process, leaving their only concern to be an enjoyable experience with their focus on dancing. A happy student will compete again!


Cash is King

Keep in mind that most competitions accept Cash Only at the event!

If the comp does allow credit card payment, you’ll be shelling out extra for a service charge.

For the same reasons, checks at the event itself are typically not accepted. Plan ahead and bring the necessary amount of cash to pay for your entries.

A Tip for Pros

Professionals should not exempt themselves from the cash only rule. You might be close with the organizers, who would take a personal check from you, but the people working at the desk are not aware of who they should or should not take a check from.

If you insist on seeking out the organizer to confirm they will take your check, you take time away from others waiting in the line, the registration team and the organizer, who is undoubtedly busy with other things.

The organizer is also put in an awkward situation to now accept a check from you. All in all, everyone is inconvenienced and you come off looking arrogant.  (sorry, it had to be said! 🙂



Stay Updated

Check the most current heat lists. With latecomers and last minute entries, often the schedule in the program may not be accurate. You don’t want to miss your events after everything you’ve done to get there!

Arrive early in the ballroom to know where the schedule stands and give yourself plenty of time to warm up and focus.

Adds or Deletions

Sometimes, changes to the schedule may be necessary. You may need to either add or delete an entry. If you need to delete an entry, be courteous to the organizers and your fellow competitors by letting the registration desk know in advance.

(and spare the on-deck coordinator from walking all over the place calling and searching for you.)

Your deletion may change an event from a semi-final to a final.

It will also prevent loss of time and waiting for the other dancers when an event is stalled to try and find you.

To add or amend an entry, see the registration desk ASAP. Bear in mind that payment will be required at the time of the addition-cash only!

You’re Set! You’re Ready to Dance!

Plan ahead and arrive early for an easy registration.

You’ll be able to concentrate on the more important task of dancing well and enjoying a wonderful competitive experience. See you on the floor!

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