Category Archives: Drill Team Training

First Night Jitters

One’s first performance can be a little stressful. Here are some words of wisdom to remember for just that situation.

I’ve been associated with many performance ensembles over the years and one of the best pieces of advice has been: for that first performance in front of an audience, when you first go out, you will feel adrenaline coursing through your body, you’re going to want to give your performance that much more effort, but don’t. More effort will result in variation, something we do not want. Rely on your training. For each practice, you’ve put forth a great effort, performing just like it’s the real thing. Friday night is no different, it’s another performance just like all of the practices and dress rehearsals we’ve accomplished.

People need to know how to handle the adrenaline and the good stress of the moment. What a great learning experience!

This is dedicated to the Marines of Marine Corps Barracks Washington who are going to perform their Sunset Parade for the first time this Friday.

Semper Fi

Last-Minute Performance Advice

Drill Team TechniqueI am consistently asked about last-minute advice whether it be for a competition the next day the next week or even the next month. Most of the time the request for advice comes a bit too late to fix any major issues.

What what a team can work on at the last minute is uniforms and haircuts, etc, but teams and individuals are really looking for ways to make improvements in in their performance right before they go to a competition. But that’s really not possible. Muscle memory is the culprit.

Muscle memory is part of what creates a great performance and, when there is poor or incorrect muscle memory, it is the problem with last-minute changes. You are most likely not going to change a certain “fault” the night before a competition, although it is possible. Repetition with the new technique to change the muscle memory is the key.

Nothing replaces proper training and consistent long-tern practice to prepare for a performance.

However…

Where to Concentrate


The Mistake
. Make sure that everyone on the team looks like they know what they are doing 100% of the time. Every answer to a question and every movement while marching the regulation, color guard, and exhibition routines must have a look of complete knowledge and authority. If not, the judges will see the kink in the armor and start looking deeper. Did a team member make a mistake? Odds are that if he or she did not “broadcast” the mistake, no one noticed it.

Warm up. Going into a performance, especially an armed solo,

Focus. Leave out everything else. Concentrate on what you are doing right here, right now.

Envision your Performance. Close your eyes and see yourself going through the performance. Click here to read The Seven Parts of an Exhibition Drill Routine. Go through each segment and picture how you are performing.

Release Tension. Put your energy into positive Focus.

Have a plan. Ultimately, being prepared is best, but there are some things that one can do.

The “Ownership” Style of Leadership

There really isn’t a style of leadership called the “Ownership Style”, it is the best
way I have found to describe this very bad technique of leading subordinates. It most likely stems from selfishness, insecurity, and fear and it is wrong. Here is how it works.

In each one of these pictures, there is at least one thing wrong. This is not to shame anyone, it is to help educate. Nothing else.

We have three people in our scenario, LeaderA, Subordinate, and LeaderB. LeaderA is responsible for all of the training for Subordinate and Subordinate does a fine job except for one day when LeaderB is the one who witnesses Subordinate making a big mistake (like in any one of the pictures). LeaderB then quickly verbally counsels Subordinate and both go about their business. LeaderA returns to find that LeaderB, in LeaderA’s mind, overstepped his bounds and is furious that LeaderB counseled Subordinate. LeaderA tells LeaderB how unprofessional, etc., etc., he has been and to never approach Subordinate again, that all corrective action must be routed through LeaderA no matter what. Ownership.

This is a ridiculous premise that no one can ever speak to another’s subordinate whether that subordinate is an adult or a cadet. This is just like “Ownership Parenting” where the parents of a child never let another discipline the child. We only go downhill from there. Input from another is OK, unless they are trying to take over. This article is about input. 

Are you doing something wrong? Be very sure that you will hear about it from a responsible party. Don’t like it? Then stop and do it correctly. Here is a good place to bring up the article, “Learning by Word of Mouth”. Learning that way is also wrong; read the manuals, statutes, laws, etc. about what you are to do.

Are you responsible for someone who is doing something wrong and have never paid attention to correct it? Don’t expect a responsible party to roll over and play dead. Deal with your deep seeded feelings of inadequacy or whatever it is and start being the leader you are supposed to be.

The “Flake Monster” at Obama’s Farewell

It happens to the best. It’s called “Flaking” in the Ceremonial World. You hydrate, eat well, exercise and you don’t lock your knees, but all of the sudden, after standing for two-and-a-half hours, your vision pinpoints, you feel light headed and BAM! you are out cold on the ground. It’s physical, it’s mental, and it’s physiological.

Flake Monster
The Flake Monster. Soldier of the Old Guard passes out

It is quite possible that this Soldier is not to blame. He most likely did everything he was supposed to. Then again, even having a beer or two the night before can ruin your ceremonial day.

Prevention:

  1. Don’t lock your knees which restricts blood flow. Stand on the center of your feet, not your heels, which contributes to locking the knees.
  2. Eat well.
  3. Exercise often– aerobic and anaerobic.
  4. Get plenty of rest/sleep.
  5. Drink water. It takes three days to properly hydrate the body, which means that if you have ceremony after ceremony, day after day, your drinking water all day, every day.
  6. Train and practice. Practice standing for extended periods without moving. It will help.
Memorial Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

This picture is courtesy of my friend Jari Villanueva, the Taps Bugler.

Walk Off before you Flake
While at Ceremonial at Ease/Stand at Ease, the signal is to move your right arm to your back, as in Parade Rest. That then signals whoever is at the rear of the formation to come and get you and you can then make a quiet exit without injury to you, your equipment, or anyone around you. No shame.

The DrillMaster DrillUp! Clinic

DrillUp! Movement Clinic
DrillUp! Movement Clinic

I’ve been teaching in various official capacities since 1986 and since 2009, I’ve been teaching various elements of what I have developed into a formal clinic for cadets, mainly, and JROTC instructors. The best news is that the clinic is free! I teach it to JROTC units as I travel the country instructing first responder ceremonial units.

The text of the flyer that I created is below and you can download the flyer at my Downloads page under the heading DrillMaster University. The best thing to do is get cadets from all over your area to attend the clinic that last three to five hours, depending on how many cadets attend.

What you get in the clinic:

  • Command voice principles
  • Movement mechanics and principles
  • Effort qualities
  • An understanding of unarmed exhibition movement
  • An introduction to armed exhibition movement
  • Teamwork activities

What does it take to host a clinic?

  • A gymnasium or some place similar
  • Access to an electrical outlet is helpful

What do the cadets need to bring?

  • Water and snacks for the breaks
  • Sturdy shoes for marching
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Any kind of drill rifle

What is the price for cadets?

  • A positive attitude
  • A Desire to learn
  • A willingness to improve
  • $0

How many cadets can attend?

  • 20 minimum, up to 100

 

The Summer of Drill!

drill team training, honor guard training
The Summer of George!

If George Costanza (from the TV series Seinfeld) can have “The Summer of George!” Then those of us in the military drill world can have The Summer of Drill! Every summer! But our summers will be filled with training and performances!

Each summer, I am heavily engaged with the Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy in Flemingsburg, Kentucky at the National Cadet Training Center at Camp Sousley, training cadets at drill camps, and working with first responders teaching Honor Guard Ceremonial Unit Academies across the country. I even travel internationally, at times, writing and teaching exhibition drill.

Competitions: Solo exhibition drill competitions are just about everywhere. Seek and you will find. If you would like to advertise your competition on this website contact me!

If you contact me, please be patient as I will be working long, thoroughly enjoyable days. I will get back to you as soon as I can!

Article Links

My best advice? Read, read, read, read, read. Knowledge is key!

Drill Teams

Honor Guard/Ceremonial Teams

Color Guards

POW/MIA Flag and Ceremony

American Flag

DrillMasterTraining  and DrillMaster YouTube Channels

drill team training, drill team motivation, drill instructor, drill camp, drill academy, honor guard training, honor guard academy

The Obstacles of a Parade

from pitch.com
from pitch.com

When I was in AFJROTC (’79-’83), we didn’t have scoopers right behind horse entries in a parade. They were the unsung heroes who brought up the very rear, just in front of the police car with the flashing lights signaling the end of the parade. This meant that everyone in the parade had to dodge, duck, dip, dive and… dodge certain remnants from our equine parade entries.

30 JUNE 2012 - PRESCOTT, AZ: "Pooper Scoopers" pick up horse dung during the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo Parade. The pooper scoopers are among the most popular people in any parade that features lots of horses, and lots of horses march in the Prescott parade. The parade is marking its 125th year. It is one of the largest 4th of July Parades in Arizona. Prescott, about 100 miles north of Phoenix, was the first territorial capital of Arizona. PHOTO BY JACK KURTZ
30 JUNE 2012 – PRESCOTT, AZ: “Pooper Scoopers” pick up horse dung during the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo Parade. The pooper scoopers are among the most popular people in any parade that features lots of horses, and lots of horses march in the Prescott parade. The parade is marking its 125th year. It is one of the largest 4th of July Parades in Arizona. Prescott, about 100 miles north of Phoenix, was the first territorial capital of Arizona. PHOTO BY JACK KURTZ

Now, scooper are placed throughout parades and are making a crummy job fun.

there should be people, sometimes Scouts, who clean up during the parade walking behind horse entries in parades. However, there is the possibility of encountering one or more situations where you and your team may need to either March through or around an obstacle. The choice is yours. Manure won’t ruin shoes, but it’s not nice stepping in it and carrying a certain amount down the road with you especially when you are in front of the public, the whole parade is your performance. But, that’s what we do: adapt overcome and carry on. On the other hand, the team always has the option of separating and individually moving around obstacles and then coming back together. That movement should be as slight as possible – no major movements.