What Are the Different Types of Color Guard Competitions?

Indoor winter guard competitions, solo and small-group competitions, and marching band or drum corps competitions, in which the color guard is scored as part of the overall performance, are all examples of color guard competitions. A color guard is an important visual element of most high school marching bands’ field shows, and many larger college marching bands have one of these flag-spinning sections as well. From August to December, these groups usually compete and perform during the first half of the school year. There are also color guard competitions held at other times of the year.

Indoor color guard competitions are usually held on basketball courts, with the performers putting on a show on top of a vinyl floor cover large enough to cover the entire area. The cover is usually made to order, with colors chosen to complement the show’s theme. Each winter guard performance begins with a set-up that includes unfolding and spreading out the floor cover as well as any backdrops that have been chosen. For this preliminary set-up, most competitions have strict time limits, with point penalties for exceeding them.

The type of music used in winter color guard competitions differs significantly from that used in summer color guard competitions. Winter guards perform to recorded music, which can range from classical to rock to movie soundtracks. Short clips of more than one song or music piece with common themes are used in many indoor color guard shows. In most winter guard performances, live instruments are not used, and some competitions may even prohibit them.

Flag-spinning teams are an important part of marching bands and drum corps performances. These groups’ color guards perform routines with flags, wooden rifles, mock sabres, and often intricate dance steps to the band or corps’ live music. Throughout the summer, a drum corps competes and frequently travels to other performances.

As a separate part of a winter guard or drum corps competition, some color guard competitions include optional solo and small ensemble contests. These optional performances are frequently included as part of a regional or national championship, and they allow talented performers to demonstrate their creativity. Color guard routines are usually choreographed solo performers. A small ensemble performance can also be created a few members of the same color guard.