Wrapping, Sails and the Newbie

Chris Dillon

Happy summer! As I write this, I am sure that the majority of us are in the midst of summer rehearsals, which means we are training up a new batch of newbies in our awesome activity. How exciting!

Spinning a flag is an art form that definitely takes a bit of time to get used to. It’s not a skill we are born with—that’s for sure. We weren’t programmed to exit the womb spinning a six-foot flag with ease. In fact, I remember (oh so many years ago) those first rehearsal blocks where I felt certain my flag would be the death of me. It takes time and patience to get used to your new appendage, but I promise it will happen. Here are a few helpful tips on some of the most common challenges with flags.

Wrapping. You have finally mastered that drop spin—hooray! Your flag is moving at the same time as everyone else in the block, but there’s still one problem. With each spin, your flag is slowly wrapping around the pole until only a tiny tag of material can be seen. Not good. This situation is called wrapping, and it’s actually quite dangerous. The solution to this issue is really quite simple. While spinning, keep your hands close to the fabric on the tab, so that your thumb and forefinger pinch the fabric at the seam. Boom—problem solved!

Sails. Sails occur when the fabric of your flag gets caught at the top of your pole on the end cap. It creates an air pocket between the pole and the fabric, which also makes spinning super difficult due to the drag created by the sail. The solution to this problem is not an issue of technique, but rather an alteration of the equipment itself.

Most end caps on flagpoles are made of rubber. The rubber catches the fabric of the flag, so all you need to do is tape over the rubber end caps with electrical tape. The slippery tape will allow for the flag to slide off the end of the pole without getting caught.

Welcome, Newbies! You are now part of the exciting and most awesome sport of the arts: color guard!

Photo courtesy of Color Guard Educators.

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.