Tag Archives: jrotc

Physical and Psychological Performance Preparation

Preserving the pattern of the “P”, your positive pre-reading program, precluding any possible problems: peruse The Difference Between Practice and Training and The Difference Between Practice and Rehearsal. Please also read, Having a complete Plan for a Performance and, from the Civil Air Patrol angle, How to Plan and Coordinate a Color Guard Event.

Now that we have given Ps a chance, let’s get on with the primary polestar of this piece. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…

b2b83f0a-80bf-4e06-a2fd-d102d833adbd.jpgPhysical Preparation
The aspect of this article is not on a performer’s endurance of physical strength, this is about what you actually do right before the performance.

Competitive drill teams and color teams (guards): Let’s say you are up north and have a competition in a high school gymnasium or field house. These two buildings offer a large amount of space for competitions when the snow is piled up outside or the rain is pouring down. So, in this case, what does your team actually do prior to the performance? You need to map out and practice your entrance to the competition area. Just having the team wander over and form up at the sideline is not going to set the stage properly at all.

Along with that notion is giving thought to the butt of the rifle that you are carrying. Does it have a metal plate on the bottom? If so, you may have to slip something over it or reverse the butt plate, if the ability exists, to the rubber side to protect the school’s shiny basketball court floor.

Are you performing in a parking lot? This is the standard in the southwestern states, what I grew up with. In many other states, including the southeast, competitions are on football fields and other grassy areas. Where you will perform may dictate a change in your performance. As an example, you may want to move from practicing in your school’s parking lot and moving to a grassy area for the week or two prior to the next competition that will be on a grass field. Keeping aware of your team’s upcoming competition and any changes you may encounter will help you prepare to do your best even with those changes.

ae14e23b-517f-40ad-b035-717b41667849.jpgHonor guard ceremonial performances: Arrive at the ceremony at least one hour prior to performance time. Scout out the area, identify where you will setup, form up and perform. Also know where and how you will exit and, if there is another part to the ceremony, say a funeral where the deceased is transported from the ME to the funeral home to the chapel and then to the cemetery, practice what you will need to do at each location. It can be a tall order, but it will pay off when, after the ceremony is finished, you can rest assured that you gave your 100% and prepared as much as possible.

Psychological Preparation
Rely on your training. You have trained, practiced and rehearsed and now the moment comes to where you put all of that together and produce the fruit of all of those hours in front of a few or a thousand people.

c76622f7-c81a-4de9-894d-0f722cbafb88.jpgLearning to drop is an article that I wrote mainly for exhibition soloists and drill teams, but it applies to every group that performs, whether that performance is in front of the next of kin at a funeral or in a friendly competition. Learn to take mistakes in stride, never broadcast a mistake by throwing up your hands, making a sigh, or even your eyes widening. Go on and recover as if nothing happened. Chances are that barely anyone will notice the mistake. The mistake does not matter, it is already in the past, time to move on and finish. Learn from that mistake for the next time. Do you notice the problem in the above picture?

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The Difference Between Accuracy and Precision

This video can be of great help to you in training.

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Drill Team and Honor Guard Training, Part 2

ff785d98-1551-4a5f-a934-bb218127ea61.jpgTraining, Practice and Rehearsal, three different types of well, practice. Here is an article on the Difference Between Practice and Rehearsal and an article on the Difference Between Practice and Training.

Whether you are on a first responder or military honor guard or a JROTC/ROTC drill team, your responsibilities are the same to a point: develop your skills, keep them sharp and, if you can, learn new skills.

How to Run a Competitive Drill Team Practice
You must cover these areas at drill team practice: Inspection, Regulation Drill and Exhibition Drill. There is one other area to cover whether drill team members or other cadets, color team (color guard). If the color team members are also drill team members then, obviously, you will have to have these cadets practice their sequence either on their own or for part of the drill team practice.

Scheduling your time between platoon/flight and squad/element regulation sequences, then moving on to the exhibition sequence and even then working in color team(s) into the mix can be quite a challenge.

Inspection
Find out the layout of the next competition’s inspection area and work to enter and exit the area with the team.

I remember when I marched on my JROTC team and we had a very small room (on purpose) for the inspection area. We marched 17 members with fourth squad entering first, then third, second, first and me last, the commander. The team formed up at the back of the room with just enough space for the judge to walk behind 4th element and we opened ranks perfectly and then it began. What I do not remember is how we exited. Practice marching into a small area/room by squad/element using “(Column of Files) File from the Right” command.

We did very well my four years on the team because we had dedicated cadets and, what was even more important, we had dedicated instructors.

Regulation Drill
Armed and unarmed platoon/flight and squad/element sequences can take the least amount of practice if you have created a solid foundation of drill and ceremonies in your JROTC program. All cadets should at least be familiar with all stationary drill (standing manual), flanks and columns. Proper execution of each movement is key and then working on alignment and distance should follow.

All team members should read applicable D&C manuals and the Commander(s) should eat, sleep and breathe the regulation sequence command list until it is completely memorized.

Colors
The color team is part of regulation drill, but needs very specific attention. The uncase and case parts of the sequence must be accomplished per a mixture of the Army Training Circular and your service’s D&C manual. Yes, a mixture.

Exhibition Drill
This is also where that solid D&C foundation will help, plus personal practice time. Creating an effective routine takes time, teaching it takes time and, finally, practicing it takes time.

All of the parts of a drill competition take a great deal of time and you must find a balance. If your teams practice for two hours every day after school, you will be able to find that balance with relative ease. If you practice Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour-and-a-half, that balance will be more difficult- but it is doable.

What do I recommend? Start early- even during the summer and teach new cadets all they must know for regulation drill to be perfect in their execution. Then, run through those regulation sequences twice a week to keep them fresh in everyone’s memory, with the rest of the time spent on exhibition.

Lastly, give 100%, 100% of the time. Each time you practice make that practice seem like a performance on the competition field and be professional. If you can do your best with the resources you have and come in 8th place and still know that you gave your all, trophies will never matter.

Outstanding Unarmed Exhibition Drill

Many JROTC drill teams here in America have yet to consider unarmed drill on this scale. I encourage you to explore drill on this level with your team whether armed or not.

The gentleman calling the commands has been doing this for years and has increased the complexity of the program with each new team.

World Drill Association Mentioned in AFJROTC Newsletter

world drill association, drill team, exhibition drillThe World Drill Association (WDA), is the organization developed to create a solid foundation for adjudicating all types of drill and ceremonies in the military drill world: regulation, ceremonial and exhibition. The WDA exists to educate judges and Military Drill Professionals of all levels.

The WDA recently co-hosted a drill meet at Florida Air Academy in Melbourne, FL and Headquarters, Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps published a picture of the teams and gave a mention to the WDA.

Click here to download the AFJROTC April 2015 Newsletter.

My Cadet Hero

The best reason for JROTC, in my view, is that high school cadets can wear a military uniform and participate in different activities no matter their physical issues.

I have worked with JROTC units for many years and have had the opportunity to work with many, many cadets. Of those cadets I have seen some with physical issues that would prevent them from joining the military, but they have the opportunity to at least see what it is like to be in a pseudo-military environment. I so appreciate that.

Ariel Summerlin 2012
Ariel Summerlin, 2012

In 2012, I read a story online about a young lady, Ariel Summerlin, who has a physical issue and was intrigued. She does not have a left leg; and yet, she marches with her school’s JROTC program. You read that correctly, she marches with her team. She was a freshman then.

Back then, she was on her unit’s inspection team and did very well. Then she added unarmed regulation drill to her competitive repertoire. She even does extremely well in drill downs (knock out).

Fast forward three years and she is still marching with her team as a high school junior. As I attended Nationals in Daytona Beach, I saw her marching with her team and, when the opportunity was right, I ran over and told her how inspirational she is. I’m sure she has heard that hundreds of times before and that the word “inspirational” might even seem trite, but it’s true. I wanted to get a “selfie” with her, but her team was loading onto the bus on Saturday evening and I thought she was leaving.

Ariel Summerlin and MeSunday arrived and so did she! As she was at a booth near mine and walked over and introduced myself again and asked if I could get a picture with her. She was a little embarrassed and laughed when I commented on her height limitation compared to mine.

Ariel, you’re awesome.

The Military Cordon

Military cordons (two lines of people, armed or unarmed, facing each other) are used for arrival/departure ceremonies and awards banquets. Here is a video I created with my outstanding cadets from Merritt Island High School in Florida.

If you have any questions, please ask.

Drill Team and Honor Guard Unit Training, Part 1

Training Pic Doris DayIn the military, we train. And we train, and train and train. We have major training scenarios (exercises) that involve multiple services and other countries, we have them for a single military installation, single unit training, all the way down to military specialty and ancillary training for each individual. It’s time consuming, but well worth the effort. After all, lives are at stake.

This amount of training is what you would expect from a superb military- training to ensure everything goes according to plan- from the big-picture war games down to the single individual who needs to upgrade to the next skill level. And as a former Air Force Unit Education and Training Manager (UTM, for short), I am well aware that training forms the foundation of all we do.

The Master Task List/Master Training Plan
One of the key tools that every shop or office has is the Master Task List (MTL). As you can guess, it is a list of all of the tasks, broken down by skill level for each military job: MOS/AFSC (Military Occupational Specialty/Air Force Specialty Code).

Sometimes combined with the MTL, the Master Training Plan (MTP), as the name states, is a description of the plan for upgrade/recurring training that each member of the shop/office follows.

The Training Record
The other document of which every single service member has a copy, is their On-the-Job Training Record. This stays with you while in the service and has every task imaginable for a specific specialty. Many are electronic now with very few probably still in a folder in a file cabinet.

What all of this has to do with you
If you are on an honor guard, I have already created a downloadable PDF Training Record for you, one that covers every aspect of honor guard duties. Here is the MTL/MTP for download.

If you are on a drill team, you can use the same kinds of documents to track training. In JROTC/ROTC it may not be the most practical since cadets are on the team for four years and then gone- however, if schools adopt this system, those who move from high school to college could take their training plan with them. Here is a sample Drill Team Training Record and here is a sample MTL/MTP to get you started.

Have  plan, that is what is going to be your best bet in the long run. Write things down- even drill move ideas or additions you think should go into the training plan. Discuss training: who, when, how long. The more planning you do, the less running around you will do later.

Stand by for part two coming soon!

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Creating the “Drill Buddy” Concept for Your Unit

Battle BuddyThe Army and Marine Corps have the Battle Buddy system. The Navy and Coast Guard have Shipmates and the Air Force incorporated it’s Wingman system service-wide in the late 2000s. Maybe you are not familiar with this concepts but might see the opportunity to adopt it once you see how it works.Honor guard units and drill teams can use this to their great benefit.

Getting Buddy-Buddy
In the military, the number one priority day-in and day-out is safety and the old adage, there’s safety in numbers, is very true. It’s also the reason that many in the law enforcement community have a partner on the job, safety. You do not go anywhere without your “Battle” and it doesn’t matter where you are going. We, in the military drill world, can stretch that concept to go a little further to meet our needs.

Cadets have all kinds of things for which they need to keep track: all of the other classes in school, JROTC and then there is drill team, color guard and even Raiders/Orienteering. On the team, you have to remember to dry clean your uniform, shine shoes, prepare the uniform, haircut, practice days and times, performance days and times, etc. Keeping track of all of that can be much easier when two cadets are working toward that same goal.

Honor guard units (law enforcement, firefighters and EMS) can reap the same benefits of using a buddy system. It’s all for making the team look their best when it counts.

Uniform prepWhat a Drill Buddy Does
Spending the night before a competition to help setup uniforms and shine shoes. That 0400 phone call to make sure your Drill Buddy is up. Finishes your breakfast since it’s way too early. Gives you part of his/her lunch since he/she ate half of your breakfast. But the biggest role a Drill Buddy accomplishes is checking your uniform right after you check his/hers. Yes, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are wearing everything that you need to have on and carrying the rest, but it is your Drill Buddy who makes sure your cover (hat) is on straight and that the chin strap is flush with the bill, that you do not have wrinkles and he/she is the one ready with the lint roller.

To bring all of this together, does your unit have a contract/list of expectations? No? You should and I’ll soon publish an example that you can download, use and modify. Check back, it will be on the Downloads page.

The Progression of an Exhibition Drill Soloist

Chris Scanlan is today’s Guest writer. Thank you, Chris!

Scanlan and team 2015My name is Chris Scanlan, I’m a Cadet Captain of The Lebanon High School AFJROTC Unit in Ohio. I’ve been drilling, in every category of drill: Regulation, Inspection, Color Guard, and Exhibition, for four years now. I’m the Co-Drill Team Commander for my drill team, that won state for the past seven years and we are currently leading the circuit for state points. {The image above is of Chris and his teammates in 2015 showing their numerous trophies- DrillMaster]

What got me into drill was basically watching my brother perform drill when I was in 8th grade. I was at a local competition as a fan; I remember watching my brother competing in the armed regulation event. I remember watching everyone being in step together, staying sharp, crisp, and poised. I said, “This is amazing!” and was hooked from there on out! What kept me involved in drill was the Class of 2015 Drillers on the team. With 11 seniors, including myself, we always had each other’s’ back. Through all the losses, arguments, faults, blood, sweat, and tears given for this sport, I would go back and perform with them in a heartbeat. They truly support me like no one else.

My heart belongs to exhibition drill. I’ve work so hard to master my craft and I love every minute of it.  In my four-year drill career, I’ve managed to pull out 10 first place solos, 2 second place solos, 2 third place solos, three first place tandems, two second place tandems, and two third place tandems. I’ve also qualified for The World Drill Championships for both solo and tandem. During my freshman year, exhibition drill was frowned upon on the team. “We’re not cheerleaders!” Is what I’ve been told, numerous times, regarding exhibition. While they found it unorthodox of the hand slapping, rifle twirling, and random chants during performances, I’ve always had a greater appreciation towards it. I made it my goal to leave Lebanon High School, with people having an appreciation towards exhibition drill. As of now, I do believe my goal has been not only achieved, but exceeded. I have freshman drillers wanting to learn ex. They would always tell me how amazing I am and how they want to drill like me! After hearing stuff like that, I know I did my job and I couldn’t be happier.

John Marshall, The DrillMaster, has heavily influenced my drill in numerous way. I remember listening to his audio critique for my MIODC 3 video and just being in awe. He gave me a, “new eye” for exhibition drill. I remember the biggest thing he taught me was layered movement: using multiple layers of your drill to perform, whether it is, upper body/footwork, footwork/ torso work, ETC… He brought the idea that there is more to the art of exhibition drill than just, “spinning the rifle.”  I rely quite a bit on Mr. Marshall to give me feedback on my performances today as well as over the years. His knowledge and eye for drill is impeccable and can’t be touched. After every solo performance, I always send my video to him and ask for a critique, and he delivers! He never leaves me disappointed, whether it’s with something I couldn’t see that hindered my drill, or a 42-minute long audio critique, I love it! Mr. Marshall is the first person I go to for critiques and it will stay like that for a while. I give a big thanks to you, The DrillMaster, for increasing my growth in drill. I wouldn’t be both a great performer, and a knowledgeable driller!

My long termgoals will be competing at The NHSDTC 2015 solo and dual event this year, with my dual partner Jonathan Wurzelbacher.  After high school is over, I will be attending Wright State University, where I’ll be majoring in marketing. I will join their AFROTC program and most likely join their drill team. I hope to be able to coach a newly formed drill team, while being in college, to help inspire the young drillers, in the same manner of how I was inspired.

Here are Chris’s critiques: