I constantly receive questions about all kinds of issues that relate to the military drill world and one that crops up about once a year is regarding what some call a “drought”.
No, this will not be a history lesson of the American Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1920s. This is about hitting the performance wall. Runners have a wall that they hit and must push themselves to overcome it. Not Drillers. Exhibition drill is a performance art and that wall is treated differently.
I will get a message on Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Kik, Voxer, my phone or through my website (maybe I should scale back…). Anyway, the question sometimes has a video along with it asking what is “wrong” with the segment in the video. Most often, the drill segment looks good and I explain about hitting a performance plateau.
When you record yourself or your team, watch the video and see something supposedly wrong, but cannot think of a solution, that is an indicator that you’ve been working too much.
If you are practicing for at least an hour each day for an extended period, you are doing a well! but after a certain amount of time, the team/you will reach a certain level to where it doe not matter what you do, you just cannot seem to improve or even think of a variation of a certain move.
Drill Teams and Soloists: There are two ways to deal with a performance plateau.
1. Change! No, not the change our government gave us which really was a change, but not what the public expected, create something different. Read this article, Beating a Performance Plateau with New and Improved! Coaches/instructors can help avoid a plateau by planning a change to the routine at a certain point during the drill season, that way it gives the team something new and different to learn and not just have the cadets marching the same thing over and over becoming numb to the performance- which is a real threat when working on Regulation Drill sequences.
2. Break! Every performance ensemble (group) takes a break. A real break, not just a few minutes in between learning sets; a break of a few days or even a week or two. No marching, no spinning and not even thinking about marching or spinning. Go fishing, swimming, travel, run, something, just not what you do daily as a hobby that you truly love to do. Once you return to your daily drill routine, most likely you will be able to have that creativity come right back and you will be off and running for another season!
Everyone needs a break, that is why God invented vacations!