Drill Team Training: Ripple Lines

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Drill team training: Ripple lines (not dominoes, they fall once and that’s it) can be fun and exciting during a drill team’s routine. However…

Please use imagination during the design process! Here are some tips for a ripple line, armed or unarmed.

What is a ripple?

For military drill purposes, it is an action that begins at one point and is then repeated along a line of Drillers to another point or points.

The direction of the ripple can go left-to-right and then back. That gets really monotonous after several passes.

  1. Left-to-right
  2. Right-to-left
  3. Center-to-end, both directions at the same time
  4. One and and the center to the other end starting at the same time
  5. Both ends to the center

Just because it worked well at the beginning of the routine, doesn’t mean you should do it again. Don’t repeat, show more of a vocabulary in the rest of your routine.

You could use the ripple line to take up a huge chunk of your time, but only if you want your audience to start looking at their email on their phone. Keep it brief and interesting.

Variation is the key here.

  1. Increasing tempo
  2. Decreasing tempo
  3. Slow (can be less effective)
  4. Fast
  5. Super-fast

How to vary tempo:

  1. Slower: Execute your movement when the Driller next to you finishes their movement
  2. Faster: Execute your movement when the Driller next to you begins their movement
  3. Even faster: Execute your movement when the Driller one or two away from you begins/finishes

Again, variation is the key!

  1. Manual of arms (keep in mind that everyone and their dog has done this)
  2. Integrate body and equipment movement
  3. Use clothing (headgear, glove removal, etc.)
  4. Simple and very fast or difficult and big (with body) can create great “wow!” effects.

A straight line is great, but you can probably think of many more formations for which a ripple line would look great- so do it!

How does one go about teaching a team to perform a ripple?

To begin, use a metronome and go slowly. Use a metronome application on your phone, set it to 2/4 (for a tick-tock, high-low, type of beat) and set a slow tempo around 90 BPM (beats per minute). If you need to set it slower, that is not a problem; make sure that everyone is comfortable with the speed, you can always increase it as everyone improves.

The slower tempo allows everyone to begin on a tick or a tock and ensures a solid timing framework from which you can then increase the tempo. Using the metronome is only for creating timing. It is almost impossible to get the metronome going fast and have everyone follow it. Once the team can build speed into the ripple, leave out the metronome and visually get your cue on when to move.

Once the team can build speed into the ripple, leave out the metronome and visually get your cue on when to move. Here is an example: the person to my right (A) is going to go to Right Shoulder and I (B) am going to repeat it and then the person to my left (C) will do the same in a ripple. When A goes to Port, that is my cue to do the same which is C’s cue to move. We all then finish executing Right Shoulder as slowly or as quickly as needed.

When you want a very fast tempo in your ripple, using the analogy above of executing Right Shoulder, instead of waiting for the person to execute Port, my cue will be A’s initial movement of the rifle.

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