Drill Teams and Honor Guards: Considering Your Hands

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Competitive drill is very much a different world than the drill and ceremonies that are taught in America’s military services, unless one is part of a specialized unit. Even in JROTC, the drill taught to each class during the school day, is not to as high a standard as the competitive drill teams and color teams (why, “Color Teams“?).

Minute details make or break champion-level teams. To me, a “champion-level” team is a group of individuals who do their very best, 100% of the time with the resources available to them. It doesn’t necessarily mean the team has a long history of winning first place, although that does also come into play as well, obviously.

So, it is these minute details that set teams apart. Here is a one that can be easily overlooked, your hands.

All services are more or less the same, wanting “cupped” hands with fingers joined and curled into the palms. In their drill and ceremonies manuals, the Army and Air Force show what I call, “The Point,” with the second knuckle of the first finger or tip of the thumb being the lowest in the position. The thumb is along the trouser seam and all fingers touch the trouser leg. All and services must use this style in all regulation drill events.


The service honor guards show a slight variation to this with horizontal knuckles like this. The middle finger is along the trouser seam.

Marine Corps Hand Style

Marine Corps Hand Style







Both styles have the palms facing inward which means all of the fingers must touch the trouser leg. You must follow your service’s guidance as closely as possible. Even if a judge does not recognize the tiniest of details, those tiny details build into a whole package and when each detail is addressed, the whole package takes on a whole new, higher standard that makes onlookers wonder how you have accomplished such amazing precision!

That takes care of the services, but there is more:

Exhibition Drill gives a performer/team room to explore!

Army Honor Guard Hand StyleArmy Honor Guard Hand Style

The Army Honor Guard’s “C-Fist”

Navy HG

The Navy Honor Guard’s Thumb Tuck

Exhibition Hand Style

Exhibition Hand Style

Exhibition Hand Style- “Pinky-out” (front and side views)

Exhibition Hand Style- "Blade"

Exhibition Hand Style- “Blade Hand”

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