3 Easy Steps to making a Dot Book

With Spring finally here (although quite a bit late on the East Coast), bands are beginning their preparations for marching band season! While not all bands begin their preparations in the Spring time, it’s never too early to start thinking about drill! Top performers are prepared and ready to rock out to put on a spectacular show in the fall! There are a few things you’re going to need in order to max out your time on the field though, and none more important than your drill sheet and your handy dandy dot book.

While in the beginning of the season you may not use your dot book yet until you learn where you’re going, it pays to get ahead of the game and having it prepared. Those sheets of paper with drill will eventually blow away, get wet, or worse, you lose it, and printing out large volumes of drill is not going to happen on the regular. There’s also a method to the madness of writing down what you are doing and where you’re going to help with remembering how to perform on the field.

With that in mind, there’s several ways you can prepare a dot book for on the field reference, but below are my 5 Top Tips for making your dot book

1. Learn how to read your drill sheet

I know, it sounds crazy right? The first thing about dot book making has nothing to do with the actual dot book, but stick with me here for a second. Since your drill sheet is going to be your first point of reference when it comes to understanding where you are and where you’re going, it pays to know how it was put together. While each drill sheet in each program will have slightly different looks, the fundamentals are usually the same. We’ve covered the fundamentals on this blog here.

2. Highlight and Write all over your drill sheet

This part you can customize to your liking (unless you’re being told to do it a certain way). My recommendation to get several highlighters and mechanical pencils (the ones that you click out the lead) to get started on marking up your drill. Now you may be thinking, why am I marking up my drill so much? This is a very visual activity as well, and being able to find yourself on the field quickly and easily is essential in maximizing your practice time. To get things started, we’ll start with 4 colors of highlighters: Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink will work.

A) Take a big sharpie, and write the set number on the top left or right, wherever there is more space. It’s easier to read a big number than a small printed one.

B) Find your dot on the drill and mark it with blue (I prefer the darkest color to be used in this instance). The reason for the darkest color, is so you can find yourself on the page as fast as possible.

C) Find the 50 Yard Line and highlight it with Green (or whatever color you prefer that’s not the same as your dot). This will help you to locate side 1 and side 2 quickly if you know where the 50 is at all times. If you’re looking at the drill normally, side 1 is to the left and side 2 is to the right.

D) Find the closest yard line, to you and mark it with Pink or yellow (your preference). That way you can see where you are relative to the 50. Quick Caveat, if the closest yard line is the 50, no need to mark another yard line.

E) Find if you’re closer the sideline, the hash, or the back hash, and mark it with the last highlighter color you got. That way you can figure out your ‘front to back’ location, or rather, how far from the side of the field you are.

F) Take your mechanical pencil and begin writing on your drill where you are on the field. Whatever order you choose to write, you should keep it consistent so you don’t get lost, but this is the order i’ve seen written several times.
-Write what side you’re on (Side 1 or Side 2)
-Write whether you’re on a yard line, or whether you’re whatever number of steps inside or outside that yard line. (i.e. On the 45 Yard line, 2 Outside the Yard Line, 2 Inside the Yard Line).
-Write However many steps you are from the sideline, front hash, or back hash. For example, 3 from the sidelines, or 2 in front of the front hash, or 2 in front of the back hash. Back when I marched, I used abbreviations such as BS, FFH, BFH, FBH, BBH (Behind  sidelines, front of Front Hash, Behind Front Hash, Front of Back Hash, and Behind Back Hash respectively).
-Repeat for every drill sheet you have

3) Now it’s time to take out the dot book!

Take out out a mechanical pencil and get ready to get your first set of coordinates on your dot book. Here’s the easy trick, you did the work already on the drill sheet! All you’re doing is transcribing it to the dot book. Write your set number on it, then write the coordinates you’ve already got down.

I know what you’re thinking, why am I doing this twice? Well, there will be times you need the drill sheet again. Do you really want to spend time trying to locate your dot on a tiny print then try to read the drill sheet instructions? At least, with what you wrote down, you can quickly reference where you should be!

Pretty easy right? To recap, you will need some sort of index card book to write all these coordinates on, but you will also need some rope or shoelace to keep on you, but that’s a discussion for another time. As always, if you have any questions or comments, let me know, and I’ll be happy to help!

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