When a marching band parades onto the field and your eyes are drawn to the girls carrying the colorful flags, what you are looking at is the color guard. The guard adds color and movement to the music made by a marching band with the help of colorful flags and rifles. The movements used by color guards can be broken down into a few basic categories including positions, slams, spins and tosses.
Right Shoulder Position
The most common position used in color guard routines is the right shoulder position. This position is often used when entering and exiting the field, and it is the starting position for many moves including the right and left slam. To achieve the right shoulder position, hold the bottom stopper in your left hand and position your right hand on the pole just below the flag. Position your left hand level with your belly button with the pole straight up and down centered with your nose. Your right hand should be about level with your forehead.
This basic move is typically done quickly and forcefully, which is why it is called a slam. To perform a right slam, begin in the right shoulder position with your left hand level with your belly button and the flag parallel with your body. Quickly bring your right hand down and out from your body, slamming the tip of the flag toward the ground. At the end of the move, the flag should be held at a 45-degree angle from the ground, and your left hand should be about even with your left shoulder. To perform a left slam, switch the position of your left and right hands and slam the flag to your left rather than to your right.
Beginning in right shoulder position, you can perform three different present moves: right, left and front. To perform a front present, start out in the right shoulder position with your left hand at your belly button and your right hand near your forehead. Extend your right arm completely, parallel to the ground, so the flag pole angles away from your body. To perform a left present, begin in the right shoulder position and extend your right arm to the left until your right elbow is near your chin. A right present also begins in the right shoulder position and involves extending the right arm so the flag crosses in front of the right shoulder.
Spins are one of the most basic elements in color guard routines, and they can be done using both flags and rifles. To perform a drop spin, begin in the right shoulder position then drop your left hand to your side and, using your right hand, spin the flag counterclockwise until it is vertical. Bring up your left hand to grasp the pole under your right hand with your thumb pointing to the ground. Drop your right hand and complete the counterclockwise spin with your left then bring your right hand back to the pole under your left hand. Other spins, like double-fast spins, build from the basic double spin and involve spinning the flag faster and stopping it in different positions.
There are many different ways to toss a flag or a rifle, and each toss has a different name. One of the most basic tosses is the pop toss, which begins with the flag held at a 45-degree angle with your right hand at the tape near your right hip and your left hand on the bottom stopper near your left shoulder. Hold the flag with your right palm facing down and your left palm facing up. Pull upward on the pole with your right hand and release your left hand, tossing the flag into the air. The flag should make one rotation, then you should catch it with your hands in the same position you started with. Other types of tosses include the concert toss, half tosses, one and a half tosses and the cross toss.