Before he was sitting at the Dancing With the Stars judges' table alongside Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli, Derek Hough was among the list of professional dancers taking to the ballroom weekly with their eyes on the Mirrorball Trophy. Hough first joined the ABC dancing competition as a professional dancer back in Season 5 and remained a pro for a total of 17 seasons, and while he ultimately took home the honor a historic six times, he admitted that he wasn't always sure of himself and his skills as a choreographer and teacher during those early seasons of the fan-favorite competition.
Hough reflected on his early days on DWTS in a recent interview for the podcast Whine Down With Jana Kramer ahead of the show's Season 30 premiere later this month. Revealing that he "definitely" does "look back at my approach to the show," Hough admitted that in his "earlier seasons, I was nervous, and I was uncertain." Hough said that he "was kind of faking it, to be honest with you." The returning DWTS judge, who made his debut on the series back in 2007, said he "wasn't really a teacher or choreographer," and while "people used to say, 'Oh, you're a good choreographer,'" he "never really looked at myself in that way. That made me fearful and afraid."
"I definitely would get more frustrated easier in my earlier seasons. I look back at some of my earlier seasons, thinking, 'Man, I wish I knew then what I know now,'" Hough continued. "I probably could have gotten more out of them with a better teaching approach, which I eventually learned and created. I wish I was better earlier on, and I could have given them a better and chance and experience."
After competing alongside celebrity partners including Ricki Lake, Nicole Scherzinger, Brooke Burke, Jennifer Grey, Maria Menounos, and Shawn Johnson and taking home six Mirrorball Trophies, Hough stepped back as a DWTS pro dancer following the 2016 season. He returned to the show for Season 29 in a new position, joining the existing panel of judges. Hough is set to reprise that role in Season 30, something he said is "definitely a lot easier... Dancing of course is harder." Looking ahead to Season 30, Hough said, "being a coach and being a teacher, I really want to give an actual note." Dancing With the Stars Season 30 premieres Monday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.