The Right Hold

The Right Hold concept is simple but also the most crucial part of Salsa Strategy.  It is the cornerstone upon which a leader decides what to do and how to craft a dance. Simply stated, The Right Hold concept is: You need to be in the right hold to do a given move.
This means one of two things. Either you're not in the right hold to do a move that you want to do (the core move), so you get into it. This is proactive - if you want to do something, you make it happen. For this, you can use the Three Step Process (see below).  
Or, sometimes in the dance, you find yourself in a particular hold and recognize which moves you can do from there. This is reactive - you make something happen based on where you are.
You need to be both proactive and reactive when you dance. But note, both of these ideas are predicated on a leader knowing what The Right Hold is for a given variation.  
The Three Step Process
This process allows leaders to go from one move to the next seamlessly based on the Right Hold. The Three Step Process reveals that most patterns are made of three things:
  1. Prepping - moves that get you in a position (ie hold) to do the core move
  2. Doing -  the cool move that's at the heart of the pattern
  3. Transition - moves to end the pattern and go to the next.   
Prepping for a move is simply getting yourself in the right hold to do the core move you want to do. This usually involves doing a move that results in the hold you need to be in. For example, if the core move I want to do is a basic Copa. I need to be in a R-to-R hold then request the left to execute the move. Here's where the prep move comes in. To get into the R-R hold from a straight hand hold, I may lead a right turn for the follower with a hand change to a right to right as I turn her. Now that I am right-to-right and I can request her left with my left to do the Copa. Bottom line: the right turn with hand change is my prep move that got me in the hand hold to do the core move, the copa.
Core moves are simply the move you want to feature (like the copa in the example above). Generally I think of the more complicated moves as my core moves, though anything you want to do can be a core move. The concept here is a core move requires you to be in the appropriate hold before doing it. 
Transition moves are either exits, or they can be prep moves for the next core move. I may just exit a core move by doing a cross body lead into a basic hold, closed hold or free spin. If so, I then just start the process over again with a prep for the next move. I think of that as exiting and resetting. Or you can transition right to another core move. The end of a core move may result in just the hold you need to do the next core move. Or sometimes the end of a move is the beginning of the next move. Either way, you're transitioning, and that's the idea.