Archive for the ‘Practicing’ Category


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Endurance is important–but how important?

Here’s a thing about endurance that dancers should understand: you only need a certain amount of it, and any extra endurance won’t help you much.

If Susie can perform the routine once and not be out of breath, that’s great! If Barbara can perform it ten times in a row and still not be out of breath, that’s great as well. But who will do better in the actual performance? They will both perform the same. Why? Because they only perform the routine once (in a row) in the actual performance. So, now you know–you don’t need to have super levels of endurance to be a great dancer. … (come read the rest of the article at the new site! )

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*NOTE*: 1/16/07–this site has moved to
This article and new articles are posted there!

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A lot of people have told me that they have one split but not the other, or are very close to their splits but just can’t get there. Also people have told me that they stretch all the time with no improvement.

If your splits are not improving, it may be because you are stretching incorrectly. Remember that you should warm up your muscles before you stretch. You should actually be warm and sweaty before you begin stretching. This requires at least a ten minute jog, if not more. Warming up is not just walking a lap or running a few yards. When you are warm, you can feel the stretch much better.

Remember also that you should be stretching consistently (stretch both legs, for instance, not just one side of your body). Touching your toe for two seconds is not stretching either. Feel the stretch, the longer the better. A couple of minutes per stretch is excellent.

Lastly, splits require flexibility in more than one area. Stretch everywhere, and make sure you sit in your splits (or as close as you can get to your splits) for a few minutes after stretching.

If you are still having problems, feel free to leave a comment and tell me about it.

Sorry for the long dormant period of this blog! School has been demanding, what can I say? 🙂  But I will be trying to get some more posts in.

This is for those dancers that have trouble dancing “passionately”. Your dance instructors keep telling you that you lack passion, but how do you obtain it?

I used to have this problem with playing piano. Sure, I did a good job and I played all the notes correctly and in time and even added in some great dynamics, but my teacher said that I was a little robotic. I couldn’t help it; it was just how I played.

How did I fix it? It all changed in one day. I decided that I’d practice for a long time, and I sat at the piano for about two hours straight practicing just one song. This was the day that I began actually loving the piano; before this, I played but I couldn’t say that I loved playing. I might have been good at it, but being good at something and loving it are two completely different things.

One concept of passion is loving what you do. I know, I know–you love to dance but you still lack the passion that your instructor wants. Maybe the problem is that you’re tricking your mind; I know several people on my drill team who said they loved being on drill, but I knew that they did not love it in their hearts because of their horrible practicing habits. If you love to do something, pratice is a reward rather than an arduous task. I used to hate practicing piano; if this was true, how could I love playing? After the day that I practiced for two hours straight, I was completely changed. From this day, I began practicing all the time. Now that my school schedule is so demanding, I have barely anytime to practice and any time that I do have is spent practicing. I love practicing.

One quote that my music teacher told me comes from a famous musician (I forget who): I never practice; I always play.

I think this quote enforces that “practice” should be just as fun as playing. So many people find practice as something that’s unfavorable. Attributing practice with the term “play” has changed the whole aura of the word. Practice suddenly becomes fun.

The steps to developing passion:

1. Begin to LOVE practicing
How do you do this? I say to do it the way I did. Spend at least two hours practicing one dance, and you will be completely changed. And spending two hours at a dance lesson does not constitute practicing. Go home, and set two hours just for practicing–no breaks. You may be surprised at how much you change at the end.

2. Practice like you perform
Put lots of energy into your practice. Lots of people love performing but hate praticing. If this is so, then perform everytime you practice!

3. Love & be moved by the music
A large aspect of dancing is the music. When playing music, in order to play passionately you need to become moved by the music. Same goes for dance.

Remember, passion is about loving what you do. You know how you can just tell in someone’s face what mood that person is in? A smile indicates happiness; a frown indicates sadness. Well, passion is similar, but harder to describe. It’s not just a smile or a frown, it’s an aura and a feeling. Music can make you feel a certain way just because of the aura that it brings; a passionate dancer does the same. Someone can look at you and decide if you’re passionate or not just like someone can look at you and decide your mood. When I watch a passionate dancer, I feel moved and engulfed in the dance. It’s a very hard thing to describe, but when you have it, you know it. First thing–begin to love practicing.

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So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for :).

Here is my suggested 3-step routine that will help you elevate your kicks. The only thing is, like the one with the splits, you need to be doing this everyday. I think that’s the hard part. This isn’t a week-by-week thing. You need to continue stretching, practicing, and strengthening your legs everyday. If you reserve 15 minutes a day for each step, your kicks will be 10º higher in 3 weeks. I hope three weeks is short enough for you to keep up your motivation!

This might also be a good idea to do with your team, so that everyone will have high kicks in three weeks.


1. Stretch
You must be flexbile in order to get high kicks. Some stretches and stretching routines are in my splits article.

2. Stregthen
You need leg stretch to get your kicks high.

Everyday, you should be kicking. Try kicking with heavy clothes on your legs or heavy shoes on (no high heels!). It will force you to use more energy. It’s kind of like lifting weights, except with your legs. If you have an elastic exercising strip (I forget what those are called, but it’s basically a stretchy rubbery rope that you pull with your arms to exercise), use it. Put it around one ankle, step on the ends with your other foot and bring your leg as high up as you can.
Another one: lift your leg up in kick position as high as you can without a bounce. Hold it there for fifteen seconds and try not to waver too much. Switch legs.
It might also help to lie down on the ground and have a friend stretch with you. Lie down, face up. Point both toes and keep both legs straight. Have a partner elevate one leg as far towards your nose as possible. The strengthening part comes here–you try to elevate your leg high while your partner pushes you back. Doing it to a count/beat/music will help.
Kick to a medium tempo song, 2-4 eight counts. Kick for as long as you can do the kicks perfectly. Once you start getting sloppy, stop and take a break. Your goal is to be able to kick the amount of 8-counts in the routine, perfectly. So, keep up the endurance. Everyday, do three sets of kicks, and make them all perfect. The length of the set depends on your good your endurance is. If you can only do one eight count perfect, that’s fine. Just keep doing it everyday, and you’ll see that number go up to 1.5, 2, and eventually to the number of eight counts you will need to last. Remember that the routine doesn’t end with kicks, either! So make sure that after kicking, you still have some energy left.
The best way to improve your kicks is to keep kicking. Endurance is a huge part of having good kicks. Once you’re tired, your unpointed toes and bend knees and bad posture won’t matter–you just want to get it over with. You need to have enough energy so that you can think about these things.

3. Practice, in context
Practice your kicks in the routine, because those are the ones that matter the most. Do the whole set. If you feel exhausted by the end, you’re not there yet.

Comment and tell me how your kicks are looking. 🙂

Trying out?

DrillObsession has moved to

There’s even a new article on drill tryouts:

Every year during try-out season, people always ask me what they need to know. Of course, it differs from team to team, but generally, this is what the try-out judges are looking for.

Potential flexibility
Teams usually have to do the splits and have high kicks. They usually don’t expect that you can do the splits (or even get close) at the beginning of the year, but they do expect that you can get them by the end of the year. The key word is potential. Show them  your improvement–when you stretch and warm up, actually stretch. You will notice that you are getting flexible day after day.

Good attitude
Yes, this really matters, and it’s a pretty big decision factor, too. If you have a bad reputation, you’d better change it. No one wants someone lazy or uncoopoerative on their team, even if that person is naturally talented and sharp.

Most people have no dance experience before joining drill. That’s fine. You need to show them by the end that you have improved and learned. If you don’t show them that you’ve gone from a non-dancer to a dancer, you haven’t made an impression.

Knowledge of Try-out Routine
Typically, there is a short routine that you must perform to try-out. You better know it! Even if nothing is perfect, but you know the entire routine, you’ve shown your dedication in memorizing the routine. That part, I think, takes a lot of work. Angles and perfect marches aren’t that big of a decision factor at this stage.

Dedication and Helpfulness
If you already know the routine and have perfected it yourself, go help someone out.  Don’t be an expert, because you’ve not reached that stage yet. On the other hand, if you don’t know the routine, practice on your own. If you’ve got that part down, then practice with someone. Make sure you try it on your own before you seek help. No one wants to help someone who doesn’t even try.

Your smile matters. Keep it beautiful and bright! 🙂

Please don’t miss the try-out practices. If you absolutely must, don’t be scared to notify the coach. Do it right at the moment that you find out you can’t do it. Do not wait.

The little things (having your hair up, no jewelery on, proper shoes, etc.) that you do wrong can add up. Don’t be late to practices. Think before you make a comment.

I hope this list helps ease your nerves a little. Remember, you can make drill if you practice. The most important part (I think) is to first practice on your own. This way, if you’re confused on some part or forgot a move, you know exactly where it is and can find someone to help you. Don’t be taught the routine then immediately go to someone for help. You are capable of memorizing the routine on your own–you just need the confidence and work ethic to do it. When you are taught a portion of the routine one day, you should be able to do it to the tempo of the music the next day. Drill requires self-motivation, practice, and dedication. Seek help for the next level–angles, sharpness, etc.

Good luck at tryouts.


*NOTE*: 1/16/07–this site has moved to
This article and new articles are posted there!

Here is the link to this article on the new site:


I know it sounds crazy. Have your splits down in three weeks when you’re still two feet off the ground? It’s possible, but you just need the time to commit to this. Before you read this, I’ll warn you that it sounds like a TON of time, but think about it . . . you want your splits, right? Why don’t you just get them now so that you don’t waste time thinking about how far from the ground you are? How long have you been trying to get those darn splits down? A year, perhaps two? Three weeks is not bad at all. So, let’s get started:To start off, I’ll leave you this: Stretch where you feel comfortable, but not distracted. An area with a computer, for instance, might be a bad location, because you may be tempted to go on the internet and surf, which destroys your focus and stops your flexibility from improving. Focus and stretch as if you were meditating.

Week #1: Reserve thirty minutes a day to stretching (yes, including weekends, or else it won’t work. If you absolutely cannot stretch on one day, just make sure you get straight back to your stretching routine the next day). Warming up before you stretch is very helpful because it makes your muscles warm and easy to stretch. The warmer you are, the easier the stretch will be; thus, the more success you will have in getting those splits down. And here are your daily stretching routines:
Session 1: 15 minutes. I recommend that you get this over in the morning, before you go to school, work, or whatever you do. After warming up, start your stretches. I recommend that you stretch one minute (at the very least) for each stretch. Remember: the splits are not dependent on one muscle. Helpful stretches are listed and described at the end of this post.
Session 2: 15 minutes. This one I’d say to do before you sleep. Do not slack off because you’re sleepy or tired. Brush your teeth, stretch, then sleep. If you absolutely cannot do session 1 in the morning and session 2 at night, then leave at least 2 hours in between sessions. You need to gain flexibility, have some time off, then work back on the flexibility to regain it and improve it.

Week #2: Keep up with the same thing as week one, but now stretching time is increased to 45 minutes a day. That means there is now a session in between–session 1.5 should be done after school, work, etc. And if not, leave 2 hours in between sessions. You should really start noticing that you’re getting close to the splits.

Week #3: Increase your stretching time to one hour.
This is same as week two, with another session. This is the between dinner and before bedtime one. The free time that you have after dinner and before your last session should be usedfor an additional 15 minutes of stretching. After the end of this week, you should be in your splits! Yipee!

If you’re having problems or not noticing any improvement, try other stretches. Again, a variety of stretches is your best bet. Remember to sit in the splits, or as close as you can go (I know it hurts, but how else can you get it?).

Tip: Stretch when you’re doing an inactive activity, like the laundry, reading a book, watching TV, or talking on the phone. This should be apart from your sessions, which require 100% focus. Extra stretching is always beneficial!

Some helpful stretches:
V-sit: sit with your back flat against a wall. Bring both legs as far back to the wall as you can and keep proper posture and straight legs. While keeping your posture, bring your back down towards the floor as your arms reach out in front of you (not down) as far as possible. Feel the stretch. Do this first pointing your toes, then flexing your feet. Try moving your legs out further as you go on. Also, you can reach out towards your right and left legs. Remember to breathe!
Straight leg stretch: I don’t have a better name for this one. Basically, keep your legs straight and feet together. Stand, and without bending your knees, reach down as far as possible. Put your weight on your toes (not your heels)–this feels a bit unnatural at first, but it is the proper way to stretch. You can also do this one sitting. Sit with proper posture, legs straight out in front of you and ankles together. Reach out with your arms. Do this both flexing and pointing your toes.
Sideways stretch: Ok, so you’ve probably figured out that I’m making up names for the stretches as I go along. Pretty creative, eh? Anyway, the “sidways stretch” goes like this. Stand in the straight leg stretch position. Now bring your right leg out in front of you (like you’re taking a step forward) about two feet. This doesn’t have to be precise, just as long as you’re close. Stand up, keep your posture back. Now reach down to your right foot, keeping your posture back and your hips in line. Your hips shouldn’t shift to aid you in your stretch. Go down slowly, and if you hips shift, come back up and try again. Go as far down as you can without shifting hips. After doing this for a minute, bend your left leg and continue stretching to your right. Now switch legs.
4 Stretch:
Named because it looks like a number 4. Sit down on your butt and put both legs straight out in front of you. Bend your left leg so that your left knee is on the ground, your left foot also on the ground with the flat side touching your right knee, and your right knee is straight with toes pointed. See the 4 that your legs make? Stretch, with proper posture, to your right leg. Reach out with your arms, as far as you can. After a minute, remembering to breathe, of course, flex your right foot and continue reaching out for another minute. Switch legs, and repeat.
Standing V-leg stretch: Stand up, posture back, with your legs shoulder width apart. You can go a little wider if that’s more comfortable for you, but try to keep it as close to shoulder width as possible. Bring your straight arms between and beyond your legs–reach back. Also reach to your right and left legs. Reach down the center, too. As with the straight leg stretch, keep your weight over your toes rather than your heels.
Half squat: Squat. Keep your right leg where it is and place your left leg straight out your left side, toes pointed, as if you were doing the center splits with your left leg. Put your right hand on the ground to the left of your right foot. Use your right elbow to push your right knee out. You should feel stretching your inner thighs. Now flex your feet. Switch sides.
The splits: Well, if you want your splits down, shouldn’t you be doing them? :). Never be discouraged by how far you are from the splits. Just get as close as you can and hold it there for awhile (a minute). Relax, and repeat a few times. You can also do the splits on the wall (preferably, a doorway, so you can keep your balance). In a few days, after doing multiple stretches, you will notice that you’re getting closer. Rejoice!

*Note*–more stretches have been submitted through comments; I edit this post whenever someone leaves a stretching idea. All the new stretches are at the edit section (end) of this article (and in the comments).
All of these stretches usually take about a minute. Above, I’ve given you much more than fifteen minutes of stretching, so spread these stretches out. Do some in one session, others in another session, but try to stretch as many muscles as you can each session. Don’t confine yourself to just one stretch. Do both splits in each session at least once (preferably at the end, to see your improvement).

Another thing to remember is to stretch both legs. A lot of people stretch one leg, while the other leg is completely inflexible. This leads to uneven kicks. It’s a good idea to get both legs flexible so you aren’t stuck with being good with one split and not the other. You never know what split you will encounter in the future!

Remember, you must focus on and want the splits, or else you’ll never get them. The wanting part is easy. Who wouldn’t want to do the splits? The focus is the hard part. Stretching in your kitchen, for instance, is a bad habit. You’ll see that bag of chips and box of cereal and be completely distracted. You’ve lost your focus. If you truly want your splits, you should be stretching like you’re meditating. Think of nothing other than those splits, breathing, and your flexibility. This is not the time to daydream. Now go stretching, and remember, think:

splits, splits, splits, splits, splits, splits, flexibility, splits, breathe, splits, splits . . .

Comment if you need clarification on the stretches or have some good stretches of your own!

Edit 9/6/06: Thanks Hailey for the comment! Here’s another good stretch from her:

A good stretch is the frog. You lye on your stomach, and bring your feet together, with your pelvis on the ground, sort of like the butterfly in reverse, and the goal is to get your feet to touch the ground, still together, and your knee’s bent, and your pelvis on the ground. After you acheve that bring your feet closer to your body and do the same thing over again, untill you can have your knee’s bent, feet and pelvies on the ground, and your feet right against your body. It helps dancers with their turn out too.

–I have heard of this one and tried it myself; it’s a lot harder than it looks, but an excellent stretch. It’s a good before-you-sleep stretch, while you’re in bed and have nothing better to do. Now you can add it to your stretching routines. Hope those splits are coming along well. 😀

Edit 10/4/06: Nina, thank you for the comment. Sorry for the confusion! I hope that this re-explanation of the frog stretch might help you see what it is.
Frog stretch: Lie down belly on the floor. Bend your knees and put your the bottoms of your feet together– push them towards your pelvis, while trying to keep every part of your body flat on the ground. It’s like the “butterfly stretch” except on your stomach. I’m not sure if that’s a universal term, but the butterfly stretch is where you sit on your butt and put your feet together, knees bent. You try to push your knees to the ground and feel the stretch in your inner thigh area. This helps with your center splits because you need flexibility in that area.
If you are getting little results, make sure that you are warming up before stretching (the warmer, the better) and focusing hard on flexibility and nothing else. Get “in the zone” (100% focus) when you stretch. No phone calls, TV, or music if it distracts you. Use a variety of stretches everyday. Don’t forget to breathe. Good luck!

Edit 1/23/07: Thanks, Evi, for suggesting the lunge as a stretch. I usually think of it more as a workout and muscle-strengthening activity, but it does work as a stretch if you let your muscles relax. Here is my explanation of it for those that want to try it: stand up, feet and heels together. Take a step forward with your right foot, keeping a large stride–this is just like the “sideways stretch” position except with a larger space between your legs (for average height, keep around 3-4 feet or whatever is comfortable for you). Now bend your right leg to make it perpendicular to the floor. This is a step before the lunge–the “runner stretch” (I just realized that I forgot to add this!). The runner stretch is helpful for your calves; hold in this position for a minute or two. Now, to get to the lunge, keep your right leg in position, and slide your left foot back as far as possible while keeping your right leg still in perpendicular position from knee down. This is the lunge position. Typically, lunges are done to strengthen your leg muscles (thighs, particularly). If you are interested in doing that, stay in position for about five seconds, then take a step with your left leg and do it again. Keep repeating (you should feel a burn in your thighs) and hold weights at your side if it gets easy for you. It might help if you squeeze your ears with your elbows or hold onto your hips to keep balance (if you are not using weights). To use the lunge as a stretch, place your hands on the floor on each side of your right foot so you can keep balance, ease the pressure off of your thighs, and focus on the stretch more instead of focusing on strengthening your leg muscles. There is a primary goal when stretching, and that is attaining flexibility. Take things one at a time–you can work on leg strength later! Anyway, the lunge is particularly helpful in stretching your inner thighs. Notice that, if you continue sliding your leg back (and let your front foot leave the perpendicular position), you will slide into a split! I found it helpful to get into the lunge position and slide back as far as I could into the splits until I finally got there. Hope that the lunge helps you!

Anyone else have stretches or suggestions? Any confusion on the stretches? Comment!

Moved! has moved to

New articles will be added there. All the old articles from this site are there as well. Enjoy! )


Everyone wants their kicks as high as possible. How do you get them there?

Well, the obvious thing to do is stretch. You can’t get high kicks if you aren’t flexible. Make sure you stretch daily, or as close to daily as you can. Stretching 7 hours in one day and never stretching again does not improve your flexibility. Gaining flexibility is a slow process that takes time.

One way to practice your kicks is to lay down, face up, and kick as high as you can. Hold your leg and pull it in to your nose as far as possible. Keep your leg straight, toes pointed. The furthest your leg can go is the highest your kick can be. If it is low, you need to continue stretching in this way. Pull your leg in as far as you can, hold about 8 seconds, relax, and repeat. Doing about 5 repetitions a day, both legs, is a good way to become more flexible.

Sometimes people have the flexibility and potential to have high kicks, but for some reason, they’re still not high. Why? Well, the flexibility is not a problem, it’s the technique. You can be extremely flexible, but still kick with flat feet, bent legs, bad posture, and flimsy support. These small errors can add up, and they can make your kicks lower. Kicking with flat feet (not-pointed toes) usually makes your kicks lower because it’s harder to do. If you’re having trouble getting those sky-high kicks but you’re flexible, remember to keep both of your legs straight, your kicking toe pointed, and your posture back.

It’s also important to stay in the same spot (unless you’re intending to move) while kicking. Moving around when you kick looks messy and clumsy. One way to practice this is to kick on a line, and when you’re done, see if you’re still on the line where you started. The best way to stay in that same spot is to think about it. If you’re thinking about staying on that line, you will be more aware of when you’re moving and going out of place.

Kicking is not only about flexibility, but also about technique. Both of these need to be practiced and improved in order to get beautiful kicks!

Comment and tell me if this helps!

You’re having some trouble finding places to practice. The gym is always booked because other sports need it. Especially if you keep a consistent schedule, it’s hard to have a place booked everytime you practice (ex: if you practice Mondays to Thursdays, it’s hard to always have a place to practice).

Do you always think that you need a facility to practice in?

That’s an error in thinking. You don’t always need a place–not a facility at least. If you’re always scheduling practice according to when something is available, you’re wasting time. You’re also making members frustrated because you’re probably keeping an inconsistent schedule.

Captains and coaches are so focused on “we need the gym” that they fail to see what they need to work on. Mainly the gym is helpful for formations/entrance/exit. There’s lots more to the drill curriculum than that! You don’t need a gym to work on your posture, angles, flexibility, or sharpness. So stop trying to hard to book the gym! You don’t need it all the time. For the times that it is available, take advantage of it, but don’t spend your time trying to get every practice at the gym.

You can practice your posture, angles, and sharpness basically anywhere. If you think there’s nowhere to practice, just walk outside. If it’s raining, you can practice in the hall or commons. You just need to plan practices correctly. Book the gym whenever available, and that will be for working on formations, entering, and exiting the gym. Whenever not available, plan other things. Work on your marching and technique. Don’t be so focused on just one area, either. You might impress the judge with your angles but make them wince at your formations. Just work on the areas that need work and do a good job planning.

Remember, you don’t need a facility all the time. Just plan accordingly!

Drama is tough. Drama is stupid. But regardless of what it is, it’s there. And you’re going to have to deal with it one way or another.

Whether it’s problems between individual members, problems with other teams, bad grades, alcohol & drugs, depression in certain members, or just any other cause of drama, you have to get rid of it. And don’t wait! Do it now.

Look at the big picture in drama. It doesn’t improve; it just gets worse. Here’s some misconceptions about drama and the wrong way to deal with it:

1. If I let it wait, it’ll go away
Sorry, but not gonna happen. How long have you waited for those two members to settle their daily arguments about formations? How long have you waited for the girl with the abusive boyfriend to stop missing practice because she’s sad? Waiting just doesn’t work. You need to take action from the moment you sense any drama. If you deny that it’s there or think it’ll go away, well, it’s there and it’s going to stay until you do something about it! Might as well act now.

2. This isn’t a big deal
Wrong! If it’s been going on and it’s conflicting with your ability to be productive and practice efficiently, then it’s a big deal. Isn’t that little stain on your drill outfit a big deal? Yes. It’s always a big deal. Don’t underrate.

3. This isn’t affecting the team . . . so I don’t have to do anything about it
If it’s in the team, then it’s affecting the team. Take alcohol for example. There’s just this one girl on your team that has a problem with alcohol. That’s not a problem–it’s just one person, right? Wrong. Remember telling your team that every person counts? Well, if you think this person doesn’t count, then that’s hypocrisy. This one person could be messing up formations, coming to practice drunk, etc. This affects the team. It can also possibly influence the team. I’ve seen people on the team become influenced by other people to such an extent. One alcoholic can lead to 10 alcoholics. That one person affects the team.

4. All high schools have drama. This is just part of high school.
When you’ve put this thought into your mind, you’ve just convinced yourself of a false statement. Remember when you said drama was stupid? Well, it is. So why are you trying to make it “okay” by telling yourself that it’s normal? In the United States, being obese is pretty normal. So should you be obese and not do anything about it? No. Don’t go with the normal because it’s not always right. Don’t tell yourself that bad things are okay, because they’re not. You have your own thoughts–don’t let the statistics fool you.

5. I don’t know what to do; therefore, I won’t do anything
This is both a thought that arises from fear and simple laziness. You’re scared to talk the the girl whose father abuses her because you don’t want to make her sad. You’re scared to talk to the administrator of your school about suicidal problems on the team because you don’t want team members to get angry and have their privacies invaded. You’re too lazy to deal with this. You’re too lazy to take time out of your day to fix this team. At first, you might not know what to do, but that’s always how it is. When you look at a math problem and have no idea how to do it, you think about it. Well, do the same. Think about what you’re going to do to prevent drama. You have to take action, but how? Well, think of a solution. Don’t tell yourself you don’t know what to do. You wouldn’t turn in a test blank because you didn’t know what to do. Well, this is the same. Turning in a blank test is just going to result in failure. Not dealing with the team = failure.

6. It’s getting better, so I should leave it alone and let things settle
So, she finally broke up with that abusive boyfriend and is happier. I shouldn’t mess with her becasue she’s probably adjusting. Besides, it’s getting better now . . .
This might be the case every once in awhile, but drama is usually periodic. It repeats over and over again. So, that just makes things better, because if you’ve prevented it once, then you’ve prevented it forever. High school relationships are tough. People don’t know what they want in life, who they want, why they want. I know a person who was seriously depressed at a competition because of relationship problems. This impaired her ability to perform. So shortly afterwards she broke up with him. You know, they had fights and the usual. She had the usual after-relationship sadness. But then they got back together. She found out that she “LOVED” him. So she loves the guy that likes to abuse her and influence her in bad ways . . . hmm. Don’t rely on the fact that it’s “getting better”. If it’s been getting better for a few months and it’s not better, then it’s not getting better. So why wait?

Now you know when the drama should be stopped. Of course there are sudden surges of sadness (funerals, for instance) but these are things that will just settle. Something periodic should be dealt with immediately. Any negative emotions will impair the drill performance.

So how exactly do you deal with it?

1. See what’s wrong and evaluate
Find out what’s wrong and what’s affecting your team in a negative way. Ask yourself: Is this something that I cannot prevent? Examples of this would be funerals, illness, family problems, etc. If it is something that will not last long (illness, for instance) then you can just leave it alone. If it’s something, like family problems, that’s troubling a particular member, then you can’t prevent it. What you need to do is talk to this person and see if it’s getting better or if she can no longer deal with drill. Ask her if she’d be better off without drill so she can spend time trying to deal with her problems.

2. If it’s something you can prevent, then find a solution
How are you going to deal with this? Usually your best bet is to talk to the person/people involved. Get the details and see what they want. They’ll probably give you a response like: “I’ll deal with it”. Well, don’t trust them. They’ve been trying to deal with it all year, and they still haven’t dealt with it. Since they aren’t going to do anything, it’s your turn to do something. If it’s a serious problem (drugs, violence, severe depression), then report it. Don’t be scared of the outcome. It’ll usually be a better choice. If you’re afraid, then leave it anonymous. Don’t worry about what they will think of you. If they’re depressed, then it’s their problem, and you’re dealing with it, so they should thank you. If it’s something that’s less severe, but still affecting your team (problems between members), then work it out. Who is causing the problem? Practice requires teamwork and collaboration, and with people arguing all the time, you can’t do anything. Why is there a problem? If it’s a simple drill issue, like who’s in the right spot for a formation, then you need to deal with it. Don’t provide an immediate answer. Think about who’s right. No favoritism. By the way, learn your formations. Don’t be telling people where to go when you don’t even know where they go! Settle any disputes fairly.
On the other hand, if it’s a relationship problem (as you can tell, I’m not very fond of these ones because they have caused so much trouble in all areas of high school), you need to talk to her. See what’s wrong and tell her it can’t go on if she’s going to continually be depresed at practice. Don’t be afraid to talk. That’s what you’re here for.

3. Once you find a solution, execute it
Again, don’t wait. When you’ve found that the solution is to talk to the person, then do it immediately. Procrastination is bad, so don’t wait until the problem gets worse.

This may seem like a simple process, but the main problem is waiting and thinking that the problem will get better over time. About 99% of the time it won’t get better. Remember to not be afraid to execute your decision. Your job is to make this team work and you need to prevent drama if you want this to happen.

And if it’s really bad and keeps going on, you may want to read my article about taking her off the team.

Go take action. Prevent the drama on your team and become more productive at practice. Now!

Lots of drill teams don’t keep consistent schedules. It’s usually a completely random schedule, based on what facilities are available. For instance, if there are no areas for practice (pretty impossible–you’ll see what I mean in Finding Places to Practice) then there will be no practice, or practice will be held at a different time (in the morning, for instance) or different day to accomodate. Of course there’s constant competition with other sports teams for school facilities such as the gym, but that’s not a valid excuse for not practicing.

By a consistent schedule, I basically mean a “class schedule”. Your first period class might be everyday, from 8-9am. This is how drill practices should be; for instance, Mondays to Thursdays, 2-4pm. No changes. Read How to Schedule Practices for more information about this method.

So here’s the six benefits of keeping a consistent schedule:

1. No surprises
No one’s going to come to school late and say, “but… I didn’t know that school started at 8am…”; likewise, no one will come to practice (or not come at all!) with this excuse. And no one is going to plan something at this time unless it’s the last resort. The main reason for missing practice is not knowing when practice is. So, if someone knows exactly what days/hours practice are, then she can plan accordingly and schedule appointments whenever there isn’t practice. So no surprises. No “I didn’t know” excuses.

2. Happier members
No one likes having an inconsistent schedule. It’s like having your manager at work give you crappy hours! No one likes that. It’s just frustrating and hard to work with. If people know exactly when drill practice will be held, they will know when they are busy and when they are not. If someone asks me if I’m busy on May 15th and it’s a month away and I have an inconsistent drill schedule, I won’t know. I’ll probably have to delay my answer on that question until the new schedule is released. And if this date is supposed to be for a project or other type of appointment, it’ll probably be too late by the time I know. If, on the other hand, I do have a consistent drill schedule, then I’ll just have to know what day of the week May 15th is, and I’ll be able to give an answer on the spot. People are naturally happier when they know when things are happening. What if school started a different time everyday? Wouldn’t that suck?! Same with drill. Keep it consistent!

3. Immediate notification of conflicts
If someone can’t attend practice on a certain day (with a good excuse, of course!), then she can tell you right away. For instance, if a member planned a doctor’s appointment on a Thursday three months away (because, well, her doctor is all booked and closed on Friday–or another acceptable excuse), she can notify you immediately. This way, you can decide whether it’s worth it to cancel practice to accomodate one member; in addition, you can have time to think about this and plenty of time to notify the team. I was often afraid to tell my captain or coach that I had to miss practice because I would end up scheduling a doctor’s appointment a month in advance, and a month later when the schedule came out, I’d realize that I’d be missing practice. I’d often be scolded with a “why did you schedule at such an inopportune time? Can’t you change the appointment? Didn’t you know that there would be practice that day?” Ugh. I didn’t really like being confronted in this way. As you’ve probably experienced, some events have to be planned a weeks or months in advance, and sometimes they just don’t work out. It’s really frustrating dealing with this kind of situation, and this is mainly why people are scared to confront their coach and they end up procrastinating on it . . . until the event is tomorrow (and then you get scolded real bad . . . oops).

4. Less stress on others
By others, I mean family, rides, friends, your manager, etc. Families have to deal with drill schedules, too. Family events must be planned accordingly–if there is no consistent drill schedule, it’s very hard to do this. The people that are responsible for bringing members back home also have to work around this. They can be busy people! Not a good idea to stress them out. Also, lots of drillers work (how else can you pay for that uniform?!). They might have managers that schedule their hours for them. If practice is inconsistent, it’s hard for the manager to do this and hard for the member also. She can’t tell her manager that she’s simply not available Mondays thru Thursdays from 2-4pm. If the drill schedule is inconsistent, she’s going to tell her manager something more like, “I might be busy on that Friday . . . I don’t know how long though or if I even have practice”. That doesn’t impress your manager. You’ll probably get fired soon for not having enough time for that job! It’s always a good idea to keep consistent so there’s room to do other things, like work.

5. More room for other activities
An inconsistent drill schedule is very inconvenient. It basically makes sure that you don’t miss school, and that’s it. It doesn’t care if you’ll miss an appointment, a piano lesson, a club meeting, or whatever else you do. Drill is time consuming, but it shouldn’t take up all your time. Usually drill doesn’t take up all your time, but with an inconsistent schedule, it blocks out all the room you have for other activities because of the random schedule. You can’t plan to join the club that’s everyday after school on Friday because you’re not sure if there’s practice and you can probably only attend half of the meetings. If you know exactly when there is practice, then you can add more room for other extracurricular activities. If, for instance, practices are Monday thru Thursday, you can know that Friday is okay for joining a club, scheduling lessons, volunteering, etc.

6. Happier coach/captains
You get to be happier, also! There will be less stress on people missing practice and not showing up because the schedule is not working for them.

I’m sure that once you’ve tried the consistent schedule method, you won’t go back. It’s so much more convenient for everyone, including you. There is a clear sense of when you’re busy and when you’re not. No more, “hmm . . . is there practice? The schedule isn’t out yet, so I don’t know . . . “. It’s a good feeling.
Comment and tell me how the consistent schedule is working for you!