First Impressions

We’ve all heard that first impressions are important. When it comes to a competition, the first impression you make on judges, competitors and spectators sets the tone for what they expect from your performance. A great first impression can have audience members on the edge of their seats in anticipation. A bad one may have them running for the hot dog stand.

Off the Bus. First impressions begin as soon as you step off the bus. Whether you’re gathering your equipment from beneath the bus or headed to the bathroom to change, take care to be gracious and respectful to anyone around you. Avoid offensive behaviors such as cursing or public displays of affection. Wish your competitors a good show and never speak negatively about another group. Represent your group as one that strives for excellence in performance and sportsmanship.

Warmup. The warmup is your first opportunity to display your performance skill and discipline. Nothing creates more anticipation and excitement for spectators than to see an ensemble warming up with intensity and precision. If they’re impressed, they will make a point not to miss your performance. Nearby competitors will be anxious to see if you can spin together. March in step as you head to the warmup area and remember you are already performing!

Entering the Field. Your first impression on the judges begins the moment you march onto the competition field. Use proper marching technique and carry yourself with confidence. Plan out the quickest, most organized route to lay out your equipment, so the audience isn’t left waiting. Strip your silks close to the pole and make sure equipment is placed neatly on the field. No one likes to see a messy field! Finally, fall into your opening position with pride. Demonstrate to your audience that they are about to observe a disciplined and well-prepared ensemble with an attitude of professionalism.

Give your audience a great first impression, and you’ll have their attention to wow them with your performance.

About author

Catina Anderson

Catina Anderson has been involved in the marching arts for almost 30 years, first as a performer and then as an instructor. She is the founder/editor of, a website for color guard coaches. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Towson University and a master’s degree in education from Marymount University.

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