How to Improve Your Endurance

After practicing an entire drill routine, you may feel exhausted, sweaty, and worn-out. You definitely don’t want to do it again, but you know that you have to because you need to improve. But you’re still winded every single time you do the routine. What do you do?

Many “drillers” (from here on out, I will use the word driller to refer to a drill team member) create “tired spots” during their routine. Sound familiar? This is the part of the routine–usually near the middle–where you are tired and lose the ability to stay sharp and, at the same time, keep your posture back, angles strong, smile bright, etc. This is definitely not the right thing to do. Judges can look at you at any point in the routine, and you can’t just hope that they don’t see you when you’re tired. It happens, and you shouldn’t risk it.

Drillers also tend to be weak at the beginning of the routine so that they can show it all off at the end (or visa versa, where you’re super-sharp at the beginning and show your tiredness at the end). This is a wrong solution also, because again, a judge can see you being sloppy and probably won’t appreciate it. So, what’s the solution?

Ultimately, your goal is to keep your endurance throughout the whole routine. Sounds impossible, right? It’s not. So, how do you do it?

One way to accomplish this task is to try completing the first four 8-counts of the routine as sharp as you can without giving up. Don’t be sloppy because you’re tired. Mentally tell yourself to do it. Pretty easy? Now take a one-minute rest to catch your breath and get some water. Now do the same thing, except with the first six 8-counts. Harder, isn’t it? This activity is both a mental and physical exercise. Endurance involves both. You need the mind to push yourself but the physical strength to actually do it. It’s like waking up in the morning. You know that you have the physical strength to get up, but you need to make your mind agree with you. So, this exercise makes your mind work hard to motivate you, but at the same time, your physical strength is improving because you are making yourself work harder. The hardest part about this exercise is actually getting started and motivating yourself.

Another way to improve your endurance is to do half of the routine everyday. Once you’ve finally got the half-way point down (usually the point with the most endurance problems) without being super tired once you’re done, add the whole routine in and do it once a day. You’ll be able to push yourself harder at the end, which is usually where everyone else starts to breath heavily and become extremely tired.

Captains and coaches often make this same mistake: “If I make these girls perform the routine ten times in a row, their endurance will improve”. This sometimes works, but it is simply painful, time-consuming, and hardly effective. Making drillers perform the routine once is already tiring, so will tiring yourself out ten times improve your endurance? Maybe a little, but it’s not a fun process. Girls will already start losing their sharpness and giving up the second time they perform the routine. So, what this method does is make girls give up and make them tired with little improvement in endurance. I know that doing the routine a million times made me angry at the captains and coach. It had no purpose and I was tired; I just didn’t want to do it and all I could think about while I was doing it was how stupid this was and how much I hated the routine and how long it was and how tired I was… I don’t think that’s exactly a good thing.

Being on a drill team requires a lot of endurance. The thing about drill is that it is a performing art. It’s not a sport like track or cross country. Drill has to look “pretty” in order for it to be good. You don’t have to have good posture or a good smile when you’re running track, although you need endurance. For drill, you must make yourself mentally stronger to make every angle perfect and every move sharp. You can’t even make yourself look tired. So you need to start improving that endurance!


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