Flag Handling 101

Chris Dillon

In my travels this past field season, I have been a bit surprised to see so many guards struggling with “sails” and flagpoles that seem to orbit five to 10 yards away when tossed. While this article may seem a bit elementary, guards will benefit from this information to improve their performance and keep them safe from projectile equipment.

Eliminate Sails

A sail is that unsightly problem that happens when the material of the flag gets caught by the end cap or rubber stopper that is located at the top of the pole. This situation can be dangerous because it significantly changes the weighting and drag of the pole and can cause challenges when trying to work through choreography.

The very simple solution for this challenge is to tape over the end caps with the same electrical tape used to tape the flag onto the pole. This will allow the material to slide off the pole instead of getting caught on it.

Manage Flagpoles

Now let’s talk about weighting your flagpoles. Doing so will prevent your tosses from becoming unplanned exchanges with teammates located five yards away (this also involves technique, but that’s for another article). Weighting a pole not only helps to improve balance but also significantly improves rotation management in choreography.

To weight your flagpole, use carriage bolts. Traditionally the best size is ½” in diameter and 1-½” in length; however, you may want to alter the weight depending on the size of the flag that is being used and the type of choreography performed.

Tape the bolts to avoid any metal against metal clanking sound when the flag spins. Then, simply drop the taped weights into the top and bottom of the pole and make sure to tape the rubber stoppers onto the ends.

It will take some time to get your muscles accustomed to the new weight of your flagpoles.

About author

Chris Dillon

Chris Dillon has been involved in marching arts activity since 1981 as a performer, instructor, designer and adjudicator.  Currently, she is an adjudicator for Drum Corps International, WGI Sports of the Arts, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association, Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC), Florida Federation of Colorguards Circuit, Indiana High School Color Guard Association, Texas Color Guard Circuit, and several others. She held the position of education coordinator for the WGASC for the past eight years.