How to Practice the Glide or Roll Step for a Marching Band


The glide or roll step is the most basic step used in a marching band. It is an essential skill to master for any marching band member, as you will use it repeatedly for marching forward toward each new target point in a formation. Practice the glide or roll step until it becomes second nature for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Instrument

Practice the Glide or Roll Step for a Marching Band

  • Start at a position of attention, or "set" position.

  • Shift to a "check" position, in which the heel of one foot is lifted off the ground up to the ankle of the opposite foot, bending the knee slightly and keeping the weight on the balls of the feet.

  • Extend the raised leg forward, straightening it so that the heel of the forward leg touches the ground and the toe is pointed straight up. As you do this, shift your weight almost entirely to the ball of the stationary back leg.

  • "Roll" the forward foot to the ground, from heel to toe. As you do this, shift your weight from the ball of your stationary foot to the ball of your front foot.

  • Bend the back leg slightly after your weight has been shifted, bringing it forward into the next "check" position.

  • Repeat the process with the other leg, keeping your upper body and hips as still as possible as you "glide" forward.

  • Practice until your step is a consistent 22.5 inches or 30 inches, whichever measurement your band uses.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure you know how to do the "set" or "attention" position before you try to master the glide or roll step. The "set" position is formed by standing straight, with your shoulders back. The heels of your foot should be together and form a 45 degree angle to each other. You should place your elbows at 90 degree angles at your side and your instrument should be directly in front of you.
  • Special shoes with curved heels are available for marching bands. If your band incorporates or allows such shoes to be worn, they may help you in making your rolls more fluid.
  • There should be absolutely no lateral or up-and-down body movement above the waist while performing the glide or roll step. This is the whole purpose of the step, to allow the marcher to "glide" across the field. Any up-and-down or side-to-side movement can produce an uneven or choppy sound from your instrument. Practice in front of a mirror to make sure you are not inadvertently moving your torso.

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