A few weeks ago, the Marching Royal Dukes of James Madison University had their annual Band Banquet. Throughout the reception, I kept thinking about all the great times I have had during my years in colorguard. I am grateful to have had such amazing experiences, and I thought I would create an article sharing some helpful hints about how to get the MOST out of your years in colorguard, whether it be in high school or going on into the college marching band atmosphere.

1)    COUNT!

Not in your head. Out loud. Just DO IT! You have no idea how much it helps you memorize your work. Not only that, but it also makes you and your team spin together. “Teams who count together, spin together”.

2)    Bond with your team.

A colorguard is one cohesive unit. It is really important to know everyone and show everyone that they belong on the team! The second you lose the trust of your teammates is when your team starts to fall apart. While keeping things cordial with the entire team can be hard when people don’t always get along, setting aside your differences and working together pays off personally and on the field.

3) Be a leader.

Set an example, go the extra mile, push yourself. Be the leader your team needs. You don’t need to be a captain to do this, simply being on top of your game can positively influence others and set a standard that others will follow.  You can use these experiences later in life if you take advantage of them now! (Future employers love hearing about leadership experience!)

4)    Interact with other sections!

If you come from a small high school band, this is probably inherently a part of your band’s culture. My high school band was fairly small and we had no problem making friends in other sections. However, at JMU where the marching band is 10 times the size of my high school marching band, I see the other side of the spectrum. If, in fact, you are a part of a larger band it might be difficult to know other band members who you don’t see at sectionals every day, but taking time to meet other sections can really benefit the colorguard on the field.  Having a good relationship with your fellow marchers pays off when you are setting drill, makes the band more cohesive, and makes it a better experience for everyone!

5)   Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Nobody in a world class guard started out as guard Jesus.  Everyone starts at the same place, learning drop spins and pull hits.  You might hit yourself in the head trying to do a toss turn around on rifle, you might fall after attempting a firebird jump, and you might drop a back-handed 45 toss in front of your instructor the first few times you try it. But you HAVE to try (and maybe fail the first couple times) to get BETTER. If you get frustrated, take a break, breathe, and ask for help.  We all started somewhere.

6)      Stretch… before AND after rehearsal.

Believe me, cramps in the middle of the night are not fun. Plus, if you stretch enough you might surprise yourself by what you can do! Knowing how to do the splits might be very useful if you ever end up on a dance line. Basically, make sure you take care of your body.

7)    Love what you do, and share it with others!

Part of the reason why I love For the Love of Colorguard is that we give back to the guard community both monetarily, through scholarships and donations to guards, and physically by helping tech, choreograph, and hold workshops for those who want to learn more about the sport.  I show my love of colorguard by giving back to the sport and I want you to do that to! By giving your talents and effort to the world of guard, you can make a positive impact on your team and the colorguard community as a whole. Hold a workshop for your team on an off weekend, get together and create routines for fun, share colorguard with people who have never heard of it or tried it.  Share your passion with others and you might just inspire someone to join this crazy, wonderful, passion driven sport.

I hope that you truly take these pieces of advice to heart. Not everyone is going to have a 100% positive experience with colorguard. I have broken bones, lost friends, and been frustrated plenty of times during my years of marching (both in high school and college). But the times that I pushed through, bonded with my teammates, and put all of my effort forth, are the times that help to make my team the best it could be. This is not the ONLY 7 things you should try to do to get the best experience from your marching season, but hopefully these tips will provide some insight on how to become a better spinner, leader, and overall person. 

Written by Lauren Pope