Hey everyone, hope my ramblings are useful to some of you ;)
Here's something you can do to improve your skills, and you don't even have to animate ... give critiques. The easiest part of your animation abilities to build up is your eye.
You've heard the stories about animator's pulling in the janitor to look at their latest stuff? That's because every single human has been studying motion for their entire lives. So none of that "I'm not qualified to give critiques yet" excuses, our audience is everyone (not just other animators) as long as you have vision then you ARE qualified to critique. Critique's don't have to be long and elaborate, even quick little comments can unlock a puzzle.
The reason to give critiques is it will help you. The more you critique the stronger your eye gets. With a strong eye you'll be able to objectively see your own work, so when you're ready for a critique from someone else it'll be about making your shot sing instead of just fixing fundamentals to get it to acceptable. Practice at analyzing why things don't work and brainstorming ways to improve them directly will work just as well on your shot as someone else's. And the more critiques you give, the more will come back to you (like tag)
Eric has a great article on how to present your critiques in an easy to hear way. But what do you actually say? Ask yourself these questions:
1) Does it look like believable motion? (if you are new to critiquing, this may be as far as you can get, which is fine, just hearing "it doesn't feel believable" can help)
2) If it doesn't feel right, can you say why? (is it the way things move from pose to pose, is the problem isolated to only some body parts, are the arcs not clean? this is where the more critique's you give the more you improve this skill)
3) What is the animator's intention? (as an animator it's useful to know what people think you are trying to say, it can help you make decisions for better clarity)
4) What might help? (ways they could make their intent more clear, or their animation more natural. the longer you animate the more tricks you have you can share)
Warning, your eye will improve faster then your animation abilities will, which can drive you nuts. You may have upgraded your animation abilities to level 2 but now you have lazer precision level 8 eyes. But of course, with level 8 eyes you can analyze why your animation isn't working and hoist it up, and before you know it your a level 10 animator (of course your eyes will now be level 20 :P ... just keep swimming, just keep swimming)
So recap: 1) does it feel right? 2)why not? 3)what's the point? 4)things to try.