Proper marching is a critical element of clean, crisp routines. A strong core, sideline awareness and staying in step all add to cleanliness of routines across the ensemble.
Steady & Smooth
Whether your color guard does a jazz step or a roll/ glide step, the hours spent working on marching technique count! Without lower body control and core support, the movement of the feet will project upwards through the equipment.
Developing strong core muscles will also help to separate the motion of the arms from the legs, allowing your equipment to spin free of the bumps your feet experience on the ground.
Your shoulders should be parallel to the front sideline unless indicated by your choreographer. If performers face even slightly in the direction of their movement, the varying angles will make cleaning routines impossible. Practice simple skills such as drop spins or flourishes while traveling right and left with your upper body turned to the sidelines.
If you are struggling, look for a long stretch of wall. Stand a few feet away from the wall and try rehearsing the same skills. If you hit the wall, you know you need to turn those shoulders just a bit more. Daily stretching to increase flexibility in the torso will also help.
Putting It Together
Maybe the most challenging step for a new performer is layering the routine over the drill while staying in step. Start by marking time under your routine. Then add in direction changes and upper body shifts (remember that sideline!). For particularly difficult sections, you may need to break it down slowly to match up the proper foot to the move that coincides with it. Don’t be afraid to really exaggerate it, deliberately placing the foot down and repeating it until your muscles memorize how the arms and legs work together. Then slowly work your way back to full speed.
While most of us really love the choreography and equipment side of our activity, it’s so important that your individual marching skills are perfected, so that those awesome routines can shine through.
About the Author
Catina Anderson has been involved in the color guard activity, first as a performer and then as an instructor, for the past 20 years. She is a consultant at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va. She is also the founder/editor of www.colorguardeducators.com, 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.