Color guards comprise groups of individuals that express music by moving physical objects, and they perform in venues ranging from athletic events to military services. Perhaps the most common equipment used in this type of marching band is flags. Flag spinning and flag waving are performed in correlation with musical beats and rhythms, and different pole forms like half-and-half flags may help with flag performance. Aside from the traditional flag used with two hands, other varieties are meant for one-handed motions, such as swing flags and butterfly flags. Other types have unusual designs or components that allow for specific movements, such as chain flags and T flags.
Typical flags for color guard rest on an aluminum pole. Other options for the make-up of the pole might include fiber-glass or PVC piping. This average flag will measure about 5 or 6 feet(about 1.5 to 1.8 meters) long, and have hand stoppers attached at each end. A flag, often made of silk, is also fastened to the pole.
For one-handed motions, there are smaller flags for color guard of about three feet (about 0.9 meters). These are known as swing flags. Due to their small size, the flag attachment only leaves enough room on the poles for one hand. A performer will typically have one swing flag in each hand.
Chain flags for color guard are so named because the flag is secured with a weighty metal chain. The flags are thus versatile and can be bunched and wrapped. They are often used in routines where the flag must be wrapped around the body.
When both metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping are used in the poles of flags for color guard, a half and half flag results. Larger flag poles often contain this structure. It is preferred in some routines because it provides both spinning and tossing capabilities along with counteracting the effects of drag when the flag must move against wind.
Placement of the flag itself also differentiates certain color guard flag types. For example, the T flag consists of a T-shaped pole with the flag attached to the upper pole portion. A butterfly flag, on the other hand, results when the flag is secured at the top and bottom of the pole, but free in the middle. These latter flags are often used for simultaneous spinning of two flags.
Flags for color guard are designed with music and theme in mind. Designs should be eye-catching and viewable from a long distance. Particular colors, shapes, and patterns must usually match the mood of the music and the routine’s intent, however. A region’s military, for example, might employ a color guard that bears the official colors of that region.