In the Details

Chris Dillon

At the end of each competitive season, guards across the country work hard to clean and improve nearly every aspect of their shows. As I travel the country in my role as an adjudicator, I have noticed that guards spend the majority of their time improving equipment technique. Though this strategy makes sense because the flag, saber and rifle are the largest extensions of our body and the most noticeable when evaluating the whole of a performance, I have found that the attention to and performance of details can make the difference between placements in competition.

Body Alignment. The simplest detail that affects all aspects of the guard performance is body alignment. If you don’t hold your body correctly, your foundation will be sloppy and negatively affect your equipment technique. So, keep these points in mind.

  • Lifted chin, elongated neck, eyes off the field
  • Shoulders pressed naturally down and back
  • Stomach muscles engaged
  • Hips held even and level
  • Knees always relaxed, never locked

Turns. For every style of turn that may be in your choreography, here are some very basic tips that can elevate their quality  with or without equipment.

Always spot during a turn. Keep your eyes focused on one spot in the direction you are turning. When you initiate the turn, leave the head there until the last moment when you have to whip it around to complete the turn. Whip it into exactly the same spot you started in order to keep you in a straight line. This technique will prevent you from weaving and appearing out of control.

Toes. Always point your toes unless otherwise directed by the choreography. Consider the toes an extension of the leg that must be stretched and pointed to create a beautiful line.

Good luck as you complete this season as well as take these strategies into future competition.


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.

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