Tag Archives: military drill judge

It’s Natural to be Negative

“Negative” judging was the first kind and in the military drill world is still quite prevalent.

What is “Negative” Judging?
In the drum corps and marching band world, this judging is called the “tick system.” The score starts with 100 points and each “tick” being a tenth of a point that is deducted for “mistakes.” This is what the military drill world (MDW) has been using for decades, a negative system.

Concentrating on Positives
Drum Corps International, Winter Guard International, Bands of America, US Bands and many, many more organizations switched to a more “positive” system many years ago. This system starts every performance at zero points and then awards points in the different captions based on the effectiveness of the performance.

The visual performance captions are: Overall Effect, Composition Analysis, Movement and Equipment. Timing and Penalties is also a judging position, but not a caption.

The positive or “build-up” system concentrates on rewarding all performances. Every performance has some positive aspect, even if you have to dig to find it. Concentrating on what a Driller did “wrong” in a performance does not educate the Driller as to how to improve. There is not “wrong” in exhibition drill-XD, just things outside the guidelines of the SOP and possible performance mistakes.

Judging Peace-meal
Much of the current judging for the MDW, consists of separating key points of a routine (from an XD sheet currently used):

Report In (10)    _______ (There are parts of each caption here)

Originality of Movements (40)   _______ (This is Overall Effect)

Difficulty of Movements (50)    _______ (This is Overall Effect and Equipment/Movement)

Precision of Movements (50)    _______ (This is Overall Effect and Equipment/Movement)

Variety of Movements (40)    _______ (This is Overall Effect and Equipment/Movement)

Appearance & Bearing (40)       _______ (This is Overall Effect)

Field Coverage (30)   _______ (This is Overall Effect and Composition Analysis)

Showmanship (30)    _______ (This is Overall Effect)

Report Out (10)        _______ (There are parts of each caption here)

Separating at this level does not give an effective overview of all parts of the visual performance.Also, notice how most of the sheet covers effect? This is also very natural and common. When we watch a performance we react to it in a positive or negative way, we react to the effect of the performance. When one gets into analysis of a performance, while effect is a big part, there are other aspects that must be taken into the total valuation and this doesn’t happen at any current military drill competition, unfortunately. Note: the military is not in the business of training anyone to analyze a performance like this.

Judging peace-meal like this does not afford the judge the ability to consider various aspects together as some aspects can enhance others. It forces the judge to separate each part of the performance- and does not completely cover the performance.

I want to be very clear: This type of judging is not wrong! It’s just not complete, mostly concentrates on effect and there is something much better.

The World Drill Association Adjudication System
Yes, the WDA system is what is much better. Because I created it? No, absolutely not. I modified the Winter Guard International system to meet the needs of the military drill world. I just had the idea to modify an already vetted excellent system. This system already worked and worked extremely well. I just put it through the MDW filter and added a section for Regulation Drill.

Are you a judge? Even if you’ve been judging for a while, there is always room to learn. Become a Certified WDA Adjudicator, click here for more info.

Photo courtesy: vmi.edu

What is “Derived Achievement”?

A friend of mine (“R”) and I (“DM”) were having a discussion, sending messages back and forth a short time ago. The questions he asked have been asked me before and I had to take the opportunity to share the information with you.

R: I have a couple questions, I have heard that in high school exhibition it is illegal to lift members into the air or say have them standing on rifles to report out (or at any point of a routine) is this true in regards to collegiate level drill?

Also what is your opinion on having an exhibition competition without difficulty being a factor in the judging?

DM: Good to hear from you! The legality of lifting someone off the floor depends on the competition SOP. Some allow it, some don’t. It is for safety, which I understand, but my take on this is if the school’s instructors are OK with it, then the competition host has nothing to say in the matter. Waiver forms need to be signed by students- armed drill comes with some unfortunate consequences sometimes- and that takes care of the instructors; forms can be signed by the instructors for the competition, and that takes care of the competition host. Restrictions exist in the boundary and timing, which are necessary. Why restrict imagination?

On your judging question: Difficulty is always a factor and so effectiveness. If the difficulty yields poor effectiveness, then it doesn’t matter how difficult the attempted move was. “At least you tried” or “‘A’ for effort” doesn’t work here. Either the routine is effective or not and if difficulty is a part of that, then it should be reflected in the score.

R: A routine that throws triples and OTH doubles would have a difficulty score higher than a routine that is mostly port spins and at most a double. That should be taken into consideration right?

DM:  Not necessarily, how effective each routine is in the end must be taken into consideration. If the more difficult routine is not effective, having fumbles and/or timing issues for instance, then the scoring should show it with lower numbers.

R: And if the timing is on point for both routines then the score should reflect the difference in difficulty.

DM: Yes, if the effectiveness is the same, difficulty wins out.

Note: What I am talking about is not fully understood by everyone and this is why I posted our conversation- I get some great questions from cadets all over the country and this is one of the best. Derived achievement means that one can achieve so much with what one presents, the more that is effectively presented the better the achievement. And this is why the World Drill Association has several different performance classes in which teams fall since some Drillers and teams are able to put in hours of practice and thus execute and even create all kinds of amazing moves while other drill teams can practice 2 hours a week and do their best with that time- which is just fine. There are different reasons for having different performance classes and the WDA Adjudication System rewards all teams in all classes. In the end, we need trained and certified judges since the education bar is being raised slowly but surely. The World Drill Association Adjudication Manual and Rule Book explains this and so much more- educate yourself and go out and create more effective routines with that foundational knowledge. This book is all about the theory of visual adjudication and how to put it into practice.

How to Become a Certified Visual Judge

The World Drill Association and DrillMaster now offer a training and certification program for judges for the military drill world. All aspects of military drill come under the visual category and should be judged as such. That is where the program comes in. There are four visual captions:

1. Overall Effect
2. Composition Analysis
3. Movement
4. Equipment

Also a judging position, but not a caption is:

5. Timing and Penalties

To become a certified judge, here is what you have to do (this is all at your own speed):

1. Purchase The WDA Adjudication Manual
2. Read it
3. Pick a caption on which you would like to concentrate and get certification and study it over and over
4. Study that caption, begin watching videos on the internet of teams and solos and make commentaries based on your caption on that video (use your computer to record yourself- yes everyone’s voice sounds strange to them- but you need to be able to talk about your caption during a performance!)
5. Use the WDA score sheet for your caption to score that performance
6. Repeat steps 3 through 5
7. During your study, submit your commentaries to get feedback for necessary improvements, if needed
8. When you think you are ready, you will be given a short multiple-choice test and also shown several preselected videos in which you must make a commentary and give scores
9. When you pass, you will be given a certificate that says you are a certified WDA Judge for the caption you chose, you then have the option to repeat the steps above for each caption

When you have been certified, it will be time to obtain Continuing Education for the WDA Judge. This book takes you through a more in-depth study of ranking and rating.

When do you want to be a certified judge? It’s mostly up to you. How long will it take? At least six months of study and practice. Can I do it quicker? Probably not. There is no immediate short cut: Study. Practice. Repeat.

So then what? The WDA already has some drill meets where the adjudication system is used, is always looking to add more competitions and will be sponsoring competitions in each state. As more judges are certified and word spreads of real feedback being given to performers, more competitions will want to use certified judges. It will all take time.

The plan is to have groups of the WDA Adjudication Corps in each state with judge coordinators and trainers.

Are you a veteran? The WDA and DrillMaster have developed the Veteran Adjudication Program. The only difference from then above information is that, with sponsorship, the books will be free.