Baton twirling is a sport of agility and coordination coupled with grace and flexibility. It has a vague history at best, but professional organizations supporting the activity as a sport have been in existence since the early 1950s. The United States Twirling Association is the largest professional organization for the sport.
This sport involves twirling a baton, which is a balanced stick usually comprised of metal, but at competitive levels, it is much more. As with gymnastics, figure skating, and other sports combining agility with grace, competitive twirling requires a routine containing mandatory elements for scoring points. In a competition, an athlete may be required to twirl vertically, or perpendicular to the floor, and horizontally. Similarly, he or she is required to make a certain number of catches and releases and vary them throughout the routine. Baton twirling at some levels of competition requires twirlers to use more than one baton.
Baton twirling is an essential element to many marching band performances, where you will see twirlers not only as drum majorettes, but also twirling other objects such as rifles, flags, and even flames. Twirlers are an integral part of a marching band performance as they add visual appeal to the overall musical performance. Many participants in middle and high school marching band drill teams, flag corps, and color guards may also be involved in competitive twirling individually.
Choreography is part of baton twirling, but coordination in general is the primary skill needed to perform. Baton twirlers sometimes have skill sets similar to gymnasts or cheerleaders, but can’t rely solely on tumbling and dance skills. They often work with coaches who help them learn and perfect their catch and release skills and fluidity in movement in their releases, catches, and choreography.