Tag Archives: how to make military drill team routine

How to Write a Military Drill Routine: Routine Mapping Tools

How to Write a Military Drill Routine: Routine Mapping Tools

It’s that time of year again, the time to start planning your drill team, squad and solo/tandem routines- if you haven’t already. To help you along in this endeavor, years ago I developed the DrillMaster Routine Mapping Tools (RMT) to try to fit all kinds of situations. Here are the links to the 2013 updated versions. These new reworked and better looking tools have a couple of tweaks here and there. Check them out and see what you think.

Check out this article, How to Write Drill, for help on using the RMTs. If you have questions, please ask!

RMTs are here at the downloads page.

routine mapping tools, exhibition drill, drill team, solo, tandem, dual, tetrad, 4-man, how to write drill

Where can I find a complete list of exhibition drill moves?

Some other countries use a separation of terms: Foot Drill and Rifle Drill. At The DrillMaster, we use “Drill” as meaning the feet; Unarmed Exhibition Drill (UXD) and Armed Exhibition Drill (AXD) to mean the body and equipment movement layered over the drill for the feet. On with the question.

In General
There isn’t such a thing as a “complete list” of XD moves, those moves are in your head. In my first book, Exhibition Drill For The Military Drill Team, I list the moves that my drill team in high school used to perform (and no, we did not write all of our moves on stone tablets- I’m not that old!) and the moves that I designed over the years since then. Is it a complete list? Not even close, I added the moves to the book as a starting point for new drill teams and, for more established teams, as a way to see moves on paper and then redesign them if needed.

Armed Exhibition Drill vs. Unarmed Exhibition Drill
There isn’t much difference, drill moves are written (for the feet) and then body (and equipment) movement is/are then layered over top. Obviously, some drill formations, for instance reporting-in or out, could be differently designed/staged to facilitate whether the team is armed or not, but the rest of the routine could be exactly the same. What an interesting concept: write one routine and use it for an unarmed and an armed drill team to see what could be layered over the drill.

Writing Drill
Yes, you can hire me and I will write a routine for your armed and/or unarmed drill team(s). But why not learn to do it yourself and then pass along that knowledge? Here are some ideas to help you get going on writing your own routine for your drill team.

The 16-member team (plus commander) is common, so we will use this configuration.

This is our Standard Drill Team Block Formation

The following formations can help you imagine what could happen next. Use your imagination. You have to take into consideration that these formations can start from the halt or while marching. Another very important issue to think of is that in order to change direction it takes two counts (facing movements or To The Rear March). If everyone is changing direction, fine. If one group is not changing direction, they either stand in place or Mark Time for those two counts (or something to take up those two counts). Remember, what I am going over in this article and my other on How to Write Drill, are the basics of routine construction/design.

How to make a circle that doesn’t take forever. Follow-the-leader can be an effectiveness killer, so thinking outside of the usual is what XD is all about. Here is a variation on what I included in my first book:

These four diagrams do not convey forward movement, but that is how the circle would be make- while the team is moving forward in a circular motion and then merging together. The circle could be as large or small as desired.

How to Write Drill

Drill is not boring, unless you do the same thing over and over or you execute very simple moves with “dead” time in between.

How can drill be “exciting”? Variation. Variation of:

  • Hand, arm, leg and head movements
  • Body movement
  • Step style
  • Tempo

You can get a sample of some drill movements in Exhibition Drill For The Military Drill Team. This is a great starting point or reference for any drill team, armed or unarmed.

What can a team do to add visual emphasis? (Not a complete list- use your imagination!)

  • Use certain uniform designs
    • Stripe(s) down the outside seam of the trouser leg and cuff of the sleeve
    • Select uniform colors that provide contrast
  • Use uniform additions
    • Two-tone gloves
    • Shoulder cord
    • Ascot
    • Belt
  • Marching
    • Unusual drill
    • drill that moves quickly
    • Tempo contrasts
    • Arm, hand and head movement layered over drill (and/or)
    • Body movement layered over drill
    • Manipulation of a uniform item (i.e. head gear)

How do you start writing a routine?

This is Set 5 (page 5) of part of a routine

This is Set 6 (page 6) of part of a routine

Go to the Downloads page and download a copy of a DrillMaster Routine Mapping Tool (there are different sizes for different applications), print out a few copies and begin by making dots where the team or you, as the soloist, will begin. I recommend using 8 counts as your standard and think of where you want the team (or you) to be in 8 counts and draw a small circle or an “X”. On the next sheet draw a dot where the “X” is on the first sheet and then, using 8 or less counts, put an “X” where you want the team to be. Repeat those steps. Each page you write becomes a set. A set is a formation, even if it is not a complete formation- you have a certain number of Drillers stop at a certain set and others continue marching to form the formation on the next set.

As you write, think of what this looks like from the front, the performance side, where the Head Judge stands, and try to create a routine that will look its best from that side/angle- this is part on which the Overall Effect and Composition Analysis judges will be critiquing and rating. Just writing something without having direction in mind can lead to a visually confusing program.

Routine Mapping Tool Sample

On each sheet you will notice lines where you can create notes about equipment and/or body manipulation or anything else that is pertinent to the routine at that particular point.

I prefer to write the drill book and then create the equipment work and layer it on top of the drill. As I write I sometimes have an idea of what the equipment and/or body work is going to be and make notes on each page. Sometimes the ideas do not work and I rewrite the drill or the equipment work.

Yeah, but what about arm, head, leg, hand and body movement?

It’s up to you, I’ll get you started on your studies: