So You Volunteered for Floor Crew…Now What?

| February 20, 2007 | 5 Comments

This article was written as a handout for new parents who volunteered to help with floor crew for a school that competes locally in the Atlantic Indoor Association.  It serves to answer some common questions new parents ask (such as Why do we use a floor? Why don’t we set the floor up the same way at every show? and What will we be doing?) as well as to offer some suggestions for making the job easier.  The article is included here for you to read and you can feel free to print as-is if you wish to share it with your equipment crew.  

First, we want to thank you SO much for volunteering for our competition day floor crew.  Without you we truly would be LOST!

Being a part of the floor crew can be very physical and demanding work (which is not suitable for people with knee, heart or back problems).  It is also an extremely important and hands-on way that you can support your child or friend and be an active part of the competition experience!  This article explains some of what you will encounter as a member of the floor crew and gives some helpful tips!


At each competition we are given a limited amount of time on the floor including set up, performance and tear-down.  For our class this is 8 minutes total.  Our actual performance is usually around 4 1/2 minutes long so that leaves us only about 2 1/2 minutes to set up and 1 minute to tear-down.  If we take longer than that alloted time our team gets a penalty deducted from our score.

Set-up usually involves pulling out the floor cover (which usually weighs between 250 and 400 pounds depending on the size and how it is painted), placing any props we might have, staging all of the equipment in the various places it needs to be set around the floor and the performers getting into their opening positions.

At the end of the show, the “timed” clean-up involves getting all of our floor, props and equipment past a designated line on the floor.  After that we have to remove it from the gym, refold the floor, roll the flags and get everything back into the equipment trailer.

Without a floor crew we might not be able to get set up in such a short amount of time AND the performers would have to expend a great deal of their energy BEFORE the performance even begins!  You are helping us to avoid penalties AND helping the performers to be able to save their energy to put into their performance.  We REALLY couldn’t do it without you!  The floor can generally be handled by a minimum of 6 adults (as long as the students come back into the gym to help remove the floor cover after the performance) but it is easier (and safer) to maneuver the more people we have.


spinforthecurefloorcoverMost winter guards have a large 50′ x 70′ vinyl tarp that is used to cover the floor at each rehearsal and competition.  It usually weighs anywhere from 250-400 pounds depending on the size of the tarp and how it is painted. This tarp serves several purposes.  The first is to protect the gym floor from damage by equipment.  The performers tape and pad equipment but dropped sabers and rifles can still damage the floor so this provides extra protection.  The second purpose is for aesthetics.  The floor provides a “stage” for the performance.  It may be left solid and simply provide a “clean” cover-up for all of the distracting lines on the gym floor or it may be painted to further enhance the theme of the show.


On the day of the first competition, the floor crew will be asked to meet 1/2 hour prior to the end of rehearsal to run-through the process twice.  At this point we will explain the rules related to boundaries, assign positions (so that things run quickly and smoothly) and make sure that we have the floor folded properly for the entrance specifications for this particular competition.  Each competition has different requirements for how the floor is to be pulled out.  That will be explained in the next section.  After this first competition we usually don’t need to “practice” for the remainder of the season.  Once you’ve been through it one time it is more or less the same after that.  The floor crew lead will be the only one who will need to come in each week to help determine the best way to fold the floor and to learn the flow for each competition in order to pass that information on to the rest of the crew.


horizontalentrylineA few years ago, our circuit (The Atlantic Indoor Association) adopted rules which allow us to be able to pull our floor out half-way and position our props and performers inside the gym while the team before us is moving their equipment and floor out of the competition space.  This serves two purposes.  First, it keeps the competition moving more quickly by overlapping entrances and exits of the different units.  Second, it allows set up to be less hectic and thus safer for both crew and performers.

photo of verticalentrylineEssentially, each host school defines a line in their gym (either vertical or horizontal) depending on where their gym exits and entrances are located.  They mark this line clearly with tape.  We are allowed to position our floor and equipment within the gym as long as we do not have anyone step over that line.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  If anyone on the floor crew steps over the line, the timing judge starts our time and we could end up with a penalty.

Sample floor layouts are show below.  For the specific layout at each competition you can visit and click on “Schedules.”  On the right side of the screen for each particular competition there is a graphic that says “Performance Floor Layout.”  You can click on this and print it for reference if you wish.  The layout shows the position of the audience, the door we will enter through, the entry/exit line and the door we will use for exit.  All of these things impact how we will fold the floor onto the cart in preparation as well as where we will need to position ourselves to avoid penalties.







stagingoutsideofgymFirst, the floor crew will meet at a designated time near where our props are stored (usually somewhere in a hallway of the school we are at).  The crew will move the props and floor to the staging area where they will meet the students who will be coming there from their warm-up.

Once a team ahead of us is done performing, the timing judge will let us position our floor and props halfway across the gym so long as we do not cross the timing line as designated by a line of tape (and as shown on the floor diagram posted for that show).

Once we are all positioned inside the gym, the timing judge will nod to the coach and the coach will give the go ahead.  As soon as we step over the line our time starts so we must move quickly and efficiently – but safety comes first.  We will pull the floor out.  Then look to the center front where the coach will yell out directions for centering the floor in the performance area.  Then she will call for the people on the corners of the floor to “pull to the corners” to get out any wrinkles.  Finally, she will wave the performers and props onto the floor and the rest is up to them.  Members of the crew should check with performers to see if they need any help with props and then leave the performance floor to find a seat near the bottom of the stands.

twodadsAfter the performance and a quick round of applause we all run to clear the floor.  The students will be assigned props and equipment to clear out of our way.  As soon as the equipment is past the center line and floor crew parents are positioned along the edge of the floor we fold the floor.  Once the floor and equipment is all clear of the center line our time stops and we can relax a bit, though we still need to get out of the gym and allow the next team to enter.  The students will re-enter the gym and help us carry the floor out because 6 people just can’t possibly lift the entire thing when it isn’t folded neatly.  We’ll take the floor to another area, outside of the gym and refold it, as best we can, to get it back on the cart and back into the trailer.  In most cases, the folding doesn’t have to be super-neat this time around because students will refold it neatly at the next rehearsal (the exception would be for a preliminary performance at a WGI regional or championships where we might have to use the floor again the same day or the next day).





We have a wooden cart that we use to transport the floor.  The band owns a trailer (provided by the school system) which a volunteer parent drives to each of our competitions.  This is how we transport all of our props and equipment.



refoldingafterperformance1.  Wear soft-soled shoes (tennis shoes) so that they don’t mark up the gym floor and so that you don’t have to remove them.  Black-soled shoes tend to leave marks on the floor cover so, if possible, wear shoes with white or light-colored soles and try to make sure the bottoms are clean.

2.  This is NOT a job for someone with a back back, bad knees or any condition that limits physical activity.  We have other ways you can help out if you’re interested!  Just let the staff know!

3.  SAFETY FIRST: It is important that we place our crew members’ safety above any worries about time limits or penalties.  Before pulling the floor, look around to make sure everyone is positioned and ready.  Then move the floor only as quickly as your slowest member can move.  Every year you see people get tripped up by the floor and fall in an effort to move as quickly as possible.  Many times this can be avoided if the entire crew simply looks around to make sure everyone is ready to move before stepping off.  Listen to the directions of the floor crew lead and coach.

4.  When pulling out the floor you need to bend over and keep the tarp as close to the floor as possible to avoid getting a lot of air caught under the tarp.  The air creates large pillowing bubbles that can trip the performers…and once they’re there they are hard to get rid of without starting over!  So please keep the floor LOW.

5.  When refolding the floor at the end of the show make sure that there are people at each corner before you start to pull or the floor gets really messy and hard to deal with.

6.  NO BALLOONING: When you are folding the floor at the end you also need to STAY LOW.  If too much air gets under the floor as you fold it, the floor can get hard to handle and this can be dangerous.  Extreme instances of this are called “ballooning” and can get us completely disqualified because it is dangerous.  Even a little air makes the floor difficult to fold and carry out of the gym though…so work hard to stay low!

7.  Keep an eye out for stray equipment, bags, shoes, etc. that might get left on the wrong side of the timing line…the judges won’t stop our time until EVERYTHING (including an abandoned hairpiece) is over that line…so we need to be vigilant.

8.  Finally, just make sure you know where the coach is and where the boundary lines are so that things move quickly.  Listen for her and the floor crew lead to yell out instructions and things will go very smoothly.

Finally, I want to once again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of the time and energy you have committed to helping our performers make the most of this experience and have the best performance possible.  We REALLY couldn’t do it without you!  We appreciate your help more than you know!



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Category: Performance, Preparation & Travel, Team Management, Volunteer Management

About the Author (Author Profile)

Catina Anderson is the founder/editor of the Colorguard Educators blog. Color guard has been part of her life for almost 25 years. She began coaching in 1994 and worked with the Broad Run High School color guard in Northern VA from 1998 until 2010. She has also written for Halftime Magazine and served on the Executive Board of the Atlantic Indoor Association. A former teacher, she enjoys sharing what she has learned and hopes to encourage others to share as well. Together we can create even more positive experiences for performers and help to collectively strengthen marching arts activities worldwide.

Comments (5)

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  1. Outstanding article! I wish I would have had this when I was teaching parents what to do for indoor percussion…

  2. Deedee Lewis says:

    Having the gym floor covered with floor tarp is a smart idea because doing a show such as guards oftentimes leave marks on the floor. I remember when I was in high school and before an event the gym floors would be almost sparkling, but by the end it would have traces of shoe marks and equipment left behind. So it benefits performers and the school alike to have a floor tarp covering the gym floor during events. Also, it’s smart to make sure you invest in the right tarp that will give performers enough stability while still getting the job done.

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