Scary at First

A photo of Killian Weston.

“Isn’t that scary?”

I’ve heard this question countless times from people watching tosses.

Most recently, a middle school student asked the question while we were recruiting for fall. It wasn’t the question that stuck with me but the answer given by the freshman who was there.

“It was. But now I understand it, and it’s not.”

Fear Is Normal

I remember last year when that same student started spinning and was terrified to let go of the flag to toss. When she finally started letting go, instead of catching, she ran away every time.

In the years I’ve been teaching, tosses are the biggest fear among new spinners.

It’s understandable—once equipment leaves your hands, you can’t control it anymore. When you aren’t in complete control of the equipment, the potential for injury increases. Fear is your mind’s way to try to protect yourself.

Gain Control

As my student said, understanding is the key to defeating that fear. Training block is where you build your understanding of your body, your equipment, and the way they work together and affect each other. When you understand how the lead into the toss controls your equipment in the air, you no longer feel out of control without the equipment in your hands.

As you work through a toss, pay attention to how the equipment moves into the air, rotates, and returns to you. Consider how what you do affects how the equipment responds. Trial and error are part of learning.


That student still runs away the first time that she tries a new toss—for two reasons. The first is that new tosses are always a little scary. The second is because she learned that getting out from under that toss is the easiest way to see how it works in the air and how it comes down. The second time, the student takes the understanding that is gained and catches the toss.

About author

Killian Weston

Killian Weston is a color guard instructor and designer in southeast Michigan. She began performing with her high school marching band in 2002 and continued with college marching band and collegiate winter guard. She has taught several guard units and is a prospective judge in the Michigan Color Guard Circuit.