I hear people, directors, staffs, judges, viewer's, all talking about marching and putting way too much emphasis on "THE FEET". Their feet are terible..... stay in step..... keep that form together! Yes the feet are what we walk and march on, but they are not the issue..... It is usually improper use of muscle in the bodies core and developing proper muscle memory and development in our legs.
We need to start teaching marching basics more with the ideas of movement and not old school marching thoughts. If you move your hips and the muscles around the hips (the bodies core) and control the placement of the heels to the beat (using a Corps style), we would develope more consistancy in our marching members. Whether you are marching forward or backwards, using a slide step, a crab step, or jazz runs, if you concentrate on pushing your hips through space with strong control of the upper body and pushing your heels in the direction of travel we would have much stronger control of our movement/marching skills.
Do this, stand at attention with your feet together, place your index finger on your solarplex right under the center of the rib cage, and lift that area 2" striaght up towards your chin. Now you have engaged your core muscles, relax your shoulders but keep your solarplex raised. Now, stick your left foot out without moving your hips with all of your weight on your right foot. This is what your marching members are most likely doing and it is WRONG! Put your feet back together. Now push your hip bones foreward about one foot and see what happens.... your feet react to what the hips are doing because the brain said, hey you better move your feet or we are going to fall. Now, stand up tall, push your hips and heels at the same time. Your core muscles are engaged, you are standing tall, your center of the body moves through space, and your heels push with them and are placed on the beat to create a strong marching style between your members.
The Marching Step Guide that I have developed is an excellent training tool for developing consistant style and movement skills. By using the Marching Step Guide, your marching members can concentrate on pushing the hips and heels through space while contolling step size and developing accute accuracy in the articulation of the heels to the beat. The same principles work for marching backwards too..... push your hips and heels through space and stay up on the balls of your feet without letting your heels hit the ground.
I am confident that with proper use of this technique you and your marching members will see undeniable results in a short period of time!