You catch yourself pumping trying to bring emotions to the surface, often accompanied by heavy breathing in and out: stop immediately. It is the definition of amateurism and ugly play. Instead: start listening to your opponent. In case of the Dog obedience training you can be sure.
The brother of pumping: sighing.
Be alert for unconscious and sometimes conscious sighs. Sometimes they are only tiny sighs, but it is a natural mechanism for people to soothe tension away. Not only is it ugly to see, on stage at least, it also takes the sting out of your game. That tension feeds the engine of your game that sighing away means having to start over. Listen, collect, let yourself realize what is being said, what that means for your character, for what you want. And only then respond.
Listening and collecting is not only the most important motor for a scene:
It is also much more interesting to look at listening and collecting people. If you don’t even respond, because there is always something new to collect: the entire better.
If you say something stupid, realize that you are saying something stupid, and respond preferably non-verbally. If you say something very hurtful: realize that you didn’t mean it that way and see the damage you do and establish what you then do not do about it. It is actually absurd how poorly many impro players take themselves on stage. Usually, they pretend that everything they do and say is correct. While often nothing is right, much of what is called is illogical, weird, hurtful, and stupid. There is nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, often it is actually brilliant but only if your character realizes the error the moment he says it or just said. Without that realization, it’s just weird and unbelievable.
If you are ever in real life in a fight or other violent situation or you see one: register, if necessary afterward, how that went. Learn how people, especially you, react in real situations. Do not know. Lose a grip on the situation. Dare to be stunned, powerless. Say yes to it wholeheartedly, then the and will come naturally. If you still get stuck: state the situation: “I just don’t know what to say anymore.” From there new material comes naturally.
Stop trying to be an integer or true.
Also, stop trying to communicate something to the public. Just let it all happen to you. And the most difficult of all, certainly for the average theater athlete: don’t illustrate. Illustrating is making clear to the public what is going on, in an unnatural way. For example, look at your watch in a flashy way to show that you are impatient. Instead: be really impatient, inside, not outside. Let your game be sincere. A simple tip is: inside always bigger than the outside. Because in real life we almost always do not want to show on the outside what is going on on the inside in the small and in the large.
A few tips don’t make you a great actor. But hopefully, there is something that you can apply immediately. Help your fellow players with this too, because from the side this is much easier to see than when you are playing yourself. One of the agonizing problems faced by every actor is learning the text. Many good actors are reluctant to do so and postpone learning for as long as possible, relying on the patience of the director.