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What grade is color guard?

Color guard is an activity that can be participated in by students of various grade levels, typically ranging from middle school through high school. The specific grade requirements for joining color guard can vary depending on the school and program. Here is a quick overview of the typical grade levels for color guard participation:

Middle School

Many schools offer color guard opportunities for students starting in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade. Middle school color guard programs allow younger students to learn the fundamentals of dance choreography, flag twirling, and synchronized routines. Joining color guard in middle school allows students to develop skills over several years before reaching high school. It also lets them be part of a team and perform at school events and competitions. Typical requirements are:

  • 6th, 7th, or 8th grade student
  • Interest and commitment to practice and perform
  • Willingness to learn dance, flag skills, and routines
  • Ability to work collaboratively as part of a team

High School

High school color guard is a popular activity across 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. Joining color guard in high school allows students to continue improving their skills through 4 years. It also lets them take on leadership roles, mentor younger students, and represent their school through performances and competitions. Typical requirements are:

  • 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade student
  • 1-4 years experience recommended
  • Commitment to regular practice and performance schedule
  • Willingness to be part of a team and develop advanced skills
  • Leadership opportunities for older students

Experience and Tryouts

While color guard is open to students of various grade levels, many programs do have experience requirements or competitive tryouts. This helps ensure team members have the necessary skills and commitment level. Typical experience and tryout requirements include:

  • 1-2 years of color guard experience
  • Demonstrated dance and flag skills
  • Ability to learn and execute challenging routines
  • Successful completion of tryout process
  • Positive attitude and teamwork skills

The tryout process often involves performing a sample dance or flag routine in front of instructors and being scored on skills, technique, and performance ability. Competitive color guard programs will only take students who excel during tryouts.

Competing on School Teams

Most color guard members compete as part of a school’s team. The competitive season takes place in the winter and early spring. Requirements for making a school color guard team generally include:

  • Enrollment at the school
  • Sufficient grade level and experience
  • Successful tryout performance
  • Commitment to the full competition schedule
  • Willingness to represent the school

Teams hold competitive auditions because scores depend heavily on how well members execute their routines. The top performers make the team. Spots are limited to around 10-30 members total. Teams practice intensively to prepare award-winning routines for competitions.

Independent Youth Groups

Color guard also exists outside of school teams through independent youth performance groups. These groups are open to young performers of various ages looking to improve their skills and participate locally:

  • Typically middle school through high school students
  • May require 1+ years of experience
  • Focus on local practices, camps, and performances
  • More flexible commitment and lower cost than school teams
  • Opportunities to learn and gain experience before trying out for school

Independent youth color guard provides a great option for those who want to participate without the pressures of competitive school teams. It allows young students to build up their skills over time.

College Color Guard

Opportunities to perform color guard exist at the collegiate level as well. Requirements for joining college color guard include:

  • Enrollment as a full-time college student
  • 2-6 years of high school color guard experience
  • Strong dance, flag, and routine execution skills
  • Willingness to make a significant time commitment

College color guard performs at campus events and also competes regionally and nationally. Routines are extremely complex. The team represents the school and has a competitive focus. Members must have extensive experience from high school to qualify for a collegiate color guard spot.

Key Takeaways

  • Middle school grades 6-8 are when most students start participating in color guard.
  • High school grades 9-12 offer continued skill development and competitive team opportunities.
  • Tryouts based on skills and experience are required for the most competitive high school and college teams.
  • Independent youth groups provide a flexible option for gaining experience before school teams.
  • At least 1-2 years of experience is recommended for trying out for competitive spots.


In summary, while color guard is open to K-12 students, middle and high school are the most common grades for participation. Tryouts and prior experience requirements increase at the high school and college levels. Middle school allows younger students to gain skills before high school team auditions. Independent youth groups also provide valuable experience. Overall, color guard provides a wonderful opportunity for students of all grade levels to develop artistry, teamwork, dedication, and leadership.