How to Create and Teach Drill Team Ripples

The “domino effect” does not accurately describe what we call a ripple in exhibition drill. Dominoes fall and that’s it. Yes, it’s a ripple, but nothing else happens. Not very effective for a drill team.

This video is a great illustration of the domino effect, using books.

However, we are talking about a ripple for a military drill team.

What is a ripple?

For military drill purposes, it is an action that begins at one point and is then repeated along a line of Drillers to another point or points.

Are there Different kinds?

Not necessarily, but variation in a ripple line is very effective. These variations are

  1. Left to Right
  2. Right-to-Left
  3. Center outward (starting at the center and moving out to both ends)
  4. Out-inward (starting at both ends going to the center)
  5. Slow-to-Fast (gradual and immediate)
  6. Fast-to-Slow (gradual and immediate)

How does one go about teaching a team to perform a ripple?

To begin, use a metronome and go slowly. Use a metronome application on your phone, set it to 2/4 (for a tick-tock, high-low, type of beat) and set a slow tempo around 90 BPM (beats per minute). If you need to set it slower, that is not a problem; make sure that everyone is comfortable with the speed, you can always increase it as everyone improves.

The slower tempo allows everyone to begin on a tick or a tock and ensures a solid timing framework from which you can then increase the tempo. Using the metronome is only for creating timing. It is almost impossible to get the metronome going fast and have everyone follow it. Once the team can build speed into the ripple, leave out the metronome and visually get your cue on when to move.

Once the team can build speed into the ripple, leave out the metronome and visually get your cue on when to move. Here is an example: the person to my right (A) is going to go to Right Shoulder and I (B) am going to repeat it and then the person to my left (C) will do the same in a ripple. When A goes to Port, that is my cue to do the same which is C’s cue to move. We all then finish executing Right Shoulder as slowly or as quickly as needed.

When you want a very fast tempo in your ripple, using the analogy above of executing Right Shoulder, instead of waiting for the person to execute Port, my cue will be A’s initial movement of the rifle.

The Combined Drill Teams of the Belarus Military

The Ross Volunteers of Texas A&M University

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