Tag Archives: routine design

Regarding Ambidexterity

The definition according to dictionary.com

1. able to use both hands equally well: an ambidextrous surgeon.
2. unusually skillful; facile: an ambidextrous painter, familiar with all media.

For the military drill world, having ambidexterity means 1. being able to use both hands/arms to manipulate your piece of equipment for armed exhibition drill and, 2. being able to use different pieces of equipment (rifle sword/saber) equally well. For now, let’s concentrate on the first part of he definition.

If you watch exhibition drill videos on the internet, you will see, especially in the solo category, that most Drillers are right-hand dominant and their drill work reflects that. It’s natural, but when you realize it, you then need to do something about it. But how? There isn’t a “Simple Steps to Rifle XD Ambidexterity in 5 1/2 Days” program. It will take time. There are even top world-class Drillers who still need to work on their ambidextrous work- or at least designing their routine to display their ambidexterity.

Where to begin:There are fine and gross motor skills and you need to develop both. Start eating or using a computer mouse with your non-dominant hand, this will start building your fine motor skills and help you on the way to developing your gross motor skills. If you have already mastered several movements using your right hand (single hand front spins, tosses, spins starting from Right Shoulder, etc.), begin to do those same moves from the left side suing mostly your left hand and arm. Begin tosses with your left (most tosses are started with the right) and start incorporating single-hand catches. Experiment as well.

It will take some time before yo stop feeling awkward, but believe me, it will open up a whole new dimension to your drill and if you already have a good imagination on developing new variations of moves, you can continue with complete abandon, if you are new to armed drill and are seeking to create variations, this will help push you in the right direction.

Have fun!

The Opening Statement

When I judge, I create a commentary/critique of each performance during the performance and I then post it on my website here for the Drillers/teams to download and listen to. On many of my recordings, you can hear me talk about the Driller’s or team’s “opening statement.” But what is this opening statement?

Defining the Term
In military exhibition drill visual performance terms, an opening statement is the part of the performance that begins when timing and judging begin up to the report-in. This is usually around the first 30 seconds or so of the routine. It is the first impression for the Driller’s/team’s first impression.

If timing/judging begins at the first movement, then spending as much time outside the boundary with your opening statement is up to you. If not, then the more time spent outside the boundary line, the more movement is “wasted.” You want the most effective use of all of your allotted time. Obviously, a Driller/team should begin creating that first impression immediately, but how long is too long to remain in place outside the boundary with that opening statement? This is a matter of opinion and cannot be answered in a cut-and-dry statement, but we can get an idea of what a good rule of thumb can be.Thirty seconds? This is relatively long in the context of which we are speaking. Fifteen seconds or less is a good guide. Marching should begin almost right away- remember you still have to traverse half of the drill area to report-in.

Starting on the Field
I encourage all competitions to allow this. I really appreciate this option as it gives the Driller/team a variation for the creation process.

The portion of the routine outside the boundary, should not be judged. It sets up the rest of the routine as giving the first impression, but not until the first team member steps across the boundary does judging begin- you must check the competition’s SOP to get specific details, however.

So, starting outside the boundary is standard for now. Hopefully, that will change and you will have a choice. In the mean time, your opening statement, your first impression needs to begin off-field and move the Driller/team into the drill area, over the boundary, quickly so that timing and especially judging can begin.

Photo courtesy: NEISD.net

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.

Stepping and the Military Drill Team

steppingI really enjoy watching a step team and seeing the synchronized movements along with some chanting. It’s good stuff, but does it belong in a military drill team’s routine? Sure- to a point. If stepping is the only part of the routine and not just part of it (influences in one place or peppered throughout), then there is a problem because stepping is not military in nature, it is based in dance. Remember, we are talking military exhibition drill (XD), the team still needs that “military flavor” to come through for a majority of the routine. Click here for more on the origin of Stepping.

The same goes for cheer-like routines (mainly, and possibly only seen in some southern California unarmed teams). There is very little military flavor in these routines: the members of these teams sing the whole time during the routine and execute cheer arm movements while dressed as majorettes. Please don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy watching these routines and applaud them, but these teams are not military drill teams. Military-esque, sure, but competing against other more military oriented unarmed teams, they wouldn’t stand a chance, they would have to compete in their own sub-phase of XD.

Influences are just great and can add “spicy” variations to a military drill team’s XD routine and I am all for that! Many armed Drillers take influences from different spinning activities for instance, the rifle XD move called the Fire Knife. This is cool stuff and I really appreciate it when I get to judge routines with outside influences: I get to enjoy the routine and learn something new at the same time.

Variety is great! And we can have variety within a military drill team’s routine.

Image courtesy wikia.com

Routine Design Considerations

Issues to consider when designing/programing a routine.

The Routine

  • Marching Surface- hard (asphalt or cement) or soft (some gymnasium floors and grass)- does the routine rely on taps on the shoes or butt slams?
  • Location of performance area:
    • The direction you will be facing (into the sun?).
    • Audience location- near or far? Audience safety may be an issue as well as micros movements that may not be able to be seen.
  • Audience Type/Occasion- most of the time this will probably not matter, but it could be a consideration if a purely ‘ceremonial’-type routine would be better.
  • Performance Area Size
    • (Most) service drill teams and soloists program their routines to make the most effective use of virtually any size area since their performances can happen almost anywhere.
    • Other competitive teams (JROTC, CAP, Young Marines, etc.) have a 100′ x 100′ area in which to perform, but when they encounter a smaller area they may have to adapt their routine to fit using what I call, “Regulation Transitions” (RTs). An RT is a move taken from a service’s drill and ceremonies manual (counter column, column right/left or left/right flank, etc.). RTs realign the team to create enough space to continue the next sequence of the routine. When it comes to competitions, RTs should be minimized unless they are designed with imagination since they do not present the most effective use of competitive time and space.

The Commander

Inside or outside of the team?

  • If inside, never march out of the team proper just to report-in/-out. Reporting must be programed into the routine!

The Commander’s Equipment

This applies when the commander is on the outside of the team

  • When the team is armed, the commander must also be armed with a sword, saber, rifle or side arm.
    • Rifle- blends well
    • Sword/Saber- does not blend well with the team. However, these two pieces of equipment can work at certain points in the routine with complimentary or similar/same movements. When a competition does not allow for a standard saber/sword to leave a Driller’s hand, that’s when the spinnable saber (<click) comes into play.
    • Side arm- this is a daring move since the team commander will have to be very creative with body movement design to compliment the team’s movements. Or, the commander could develop a six gun spinning routine (<click).

Physical Problems

Some people are born with certain physical limitations in their body, legs, arms, hands or feet. These are issues that need to be dealt with on an individual basis. I encourage all teams to attempt to work around limitations when possible, it can be very rewarding.