How Drops Affect Scoring

DrillMasterCommentary, Drill Teams Leave a Comment

Many Drillers who I have had the pleasure to meet over the last few years have talked with me about drops (when the equipment leaves the Driller’s hands completely- not on purpose) or hits (when the equipment leaves the Driller’s hand but is immediately recovered- also not on purpose) and how they affect scoring. Usually the thinking is a hit is near-death and a drop is death. I understand this thinking, but this is not so.

Here is a scoring example:

*I say “Old System,” but it’s currently used at almost every drill meet. Which is a shame since the scores really don’t mean anything.

Using the example above, one can see whee a Driller who drops his/her rifle (or sword, etc.) gets 30 or so points deducted with the Old System since there is an enormous amount of points. Now, looking at the WDA System (the point scale of 100, just like a school grading system) one can also see how drops are not scored as severely.

Back in 2009 the New York Drill Competition had at least three of the top five placements have a drop. The winner and second place both had drops! How did this happen? The routines were that good. Really. A drop is not the effect-killer that one may think and here is why:

With the WDA system the judges are looking at the four different visual categories, called “captions”: Overall Effect, Composition Analysis, Movement and Equipment. Having judges looking at single aspects creates infinitely better feedback for the Driller/team. The Driller/Team can view the reverse of the sheet and see a brief description of of their score range and they can also read the WDA Adjudication Manual to get an in-depth explanation for their score range. WDA scores actually mean something.

On the other hand the Old System has each (untrained) judge looking at and scoring the same thing and assigning numbers based on a briefing the judges receive ten minutes before hitting the drill pad or, at the most, the training is showing the judges a video or two of what a “first place” performance is.

It’s all down to judge training and having those judges be able to step out of the narrow vision of the military mindset. This mindset is excellent (and required) for the inspection and regulation phases (including color team), but it is not the view to have when judging exhibition drill. Is this a “radical view,” sure. But I’m speaking the truth. Like it or not, judges need training and How Drops Affect Scoring is just one example.

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