There are two main baton twirling associations in
England... The NBTA (National Baton
Twirling Association) and BBTSA (British Baton
Twirling Sports Association).
While both the NBTA and BBTSA incorporate the sport of twirling very much within competition, they are quite separate from one another. However some twirling teams compete within both associations and more.
(If you scroll down this page you start off with information about the NBTA, and then further down about the BBTSA, and finally some information about some other twirling or majorette associations in the UK)
You can visit the official NBTA website by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
The NBTA (as it is known today) was established in 1982 with only a few teams and individual events and has since come on from strength to strength.
Since that year over 25 years ago, many other events have been added to already large list that the NBTA has to offer for teams and individuals to compete in. To date the NBTA now boasts over 1000 members who belong to many teams from all over the country. (Although also independent twirlers are also very welcome!)
Since 1982, there have been many teams that have belonged to the NBTA at some point or another and left, but often the faces and names have remained the same throughout the years. Looking internationally...the NBTA is also affiliated to a European and international association and governs competitions, exams and education programmes.
There are several regional competitions throughout the year starting from about February/March to September, and you have to go to at least one of these to qualify for the Nationals held for a week at the end of October.
There are several individual and team events that you have to qualify in (and some that you don't). All gymnastic moves in NBTA are banned.
To advance through through the different ability levels of competition, you have to come placed in the top six at any the National Championships (or sometimes it is less depending on how many are in the class. See the NBTA webpage for a full breakdown) to go up to the next ability level. So say if you are a Novice Solo Twirler and you place 2nd at the Nationals you will be Intermediate the following year of competition.
Each event is separate and you may be Intermediate for one event and Advanced in another. You advance through the levels of each event separately.
Any new event that you have not competed in before, you start off at Beginner level, and you must win your way out of Beginner by placing in the top 6 at the Nationals.
However if you are at an Advanced level for any solo twirling event you are not allowed to start off in the Beginner section and must compete in the Novice section. (The Senior section starts off at Novice)
To advance from Advanced Solo to Championship level solo you have to place in the top 6 in your solo three times before you can compete in that level, or win the Advanced section at the Nationals.
In certain circumstances should the judge at Nationals deem the twirler not ready to advance to the next ability group and will advise that the competitor remains in their ability level. This is only done in exceptional circumstances and usually occurs when moving up the higher levels such as Intermediate to Advanced or Advanced to Championship. All gymnastic moves (where the feet rotate 360 degrees over the head are banned within NBTA)
In each event there are age groups, (The ages are taken from the beginning of September the year before the competition starts )
- Pee wee, aged 6 and under
- Juvenile, aged 7-9
- Pre-teen, aged 10-12
- Junior, aged 13-15
- Senior, aged 16 +
Here are some explanations of the individual events that you have to qualify for the Nationals in. Also information about the different levels of ability in each event.
Where you compete on your own in an arena with a solo routine. The routine must have the basic concepts, such as an opening section: with aerials and connections, full hand twirls, a finger twirls section, a rolls section, a horizontal section and usually an ending section with other high aerials and connections. A variety of releases and receptions is encouraged throughout.
There are five levels of ability in solo...Beginner, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Championship (Championship level is in the Senior section only).
As the name suggests the solo is of a dance nature and is set to music which is set by NBTA depending on what level you are in (the Beginner/Novice twirlers have different music from Intermediate/Advanced). The routine must as well as having twirls, aeriels and connections within it, have a variety and difficulty of dance incorporated with the baton - aerials, traveling connections with the baton, traveling series moves as well as static dance and twirl and good use of floor coverage. Baton combined with Dance is the main emphasis of a Dance Solo. The routine will also be judged on the interpretation of the musical style for example as well as other aspects involved with the dance.
There are four levels of ability in Dance Solo...Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced.
2 baton as it suggests is a routine in which both batons are kept twirling throughout the routine. With a similar content to solo (i.e the sections throughout, fingers, rolls, etc) both batons have to be moving throughout the routine. This may involve both held in the hand at the same time or high toss with a small tricks underneath, small connecting aerials, full hand or showers - where the batons are tossed high one after the other with tricks, passes etc underneath each baton, kind of like juggling.
There are four levels of ability in 2 baton... Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced.
Very similar in content to solo, but there are two twirlers in the arena at the same time. The idea being to stay in unison with each other and carry out a number a partner sequences - where one twirler compliments the other during a set piece within the routine, although they may not be doing exactly the same twirling moves at that time. As well as individual tricks, spins etc, exchanges with different releases, catches and novelty pieces should be incorporated into the routine.
There are four levels of ability in duet...Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced.
The main aims of X strut are to demonstrate control, good posture and body work, balance, flexibility and presentation while executing a number of moves, such as leg holds, poses, jumps, leaps, kicks, lunges, turns, spins etc etc. The routine is completed by moving round an X shape and you have to travel around this shape while doing certain moves and twirls, with other traveling moves, e.g. split leaps and tour jetes etc. You are not allowed to release the baton at all during the routine, however the baton should be used throughout using full hand lobs and twirls and passes with poses also. It must incorporate a certain number of moves (e.g. 4 basic marches at the start of each new side of the X).
Within X Strut the judge looks at 20% of what you perform and complete and 80% of how it is performed and completed
There are 2 levels of ability in X strut... Novice and Advanced.
To qualify in an individual twirling events, you must place in the top 50% of the placings in a class at any one regional competition. For e.g. if there are 10 in a class then you have to place in the top 5 to qualify. However if the are an odd number of competitors in the class, say 9 then the top 5 would qualify. They would take just over 50%. The more Regional competitions you enter the higher your chance of qualifying, as often if someone places higher then you and they have already qualified, even if you place in the lower 50% of the class then you will still qualify..
The Strut events also require qualification for Nationals, but you do not have to place to qualify. You just have to compete once in a regional competition to compete at Nationals. In each of these events there are three levels of ability...Beginner, Novice and Advanced.
This is as the name suggests, it is a basic marching strut in which the knees are brought up to 90 degrees which each step and the arms are swung to shoulder height. Each step taken should be in time with the left foot on the heavy beat of the music. The event is competed in a square.
Similar to Basic Strut, but with each step the baton is brought up to the nose with the baton being held at the end straight up at an angle. Then with the other step the baton is brought back down to the hip. The free hand is held on the hip. The strut is completed in a square and at each corner the baton is swung behind and in front of the in a lob (Beginner section do not need to do the lobs) and each step should be in time with left foot on the heavy beat of the music.
Similar to X strut, but the event is done is a square. The routine should combine a variety and difficulty of baton and body work with emphasis on maintaining good posture, leg lines and body work. A variety of baton and bodywork should be used throughout.
Pom Pom Strut...
Similar to Fancy strut, the routine is again done in a square although the whole routine is done using pom poms. A variety of use of poms and bodywork should be used throughout.They are all the individual events offered at present
There are also a number of team routines, of which are split into the same age categories although not all teams have an ability level. TEAM TWIRL and DANCE TEAM are split into Beginner, Novice and Advanced and and TWIRLING CORPS is split into either Beginner/Novice or Intermediate/Advanced. All the other teams are separated by age group only.The parents fun routine is only done at Nationals and very highly contested!
The team events are...
This is a like a solo where the emphasis is on twirling rather than dance. The routine must incorporate aerials, connections, finger twirl, rolls, horizontals as well as demonstrating freehand twirl and low material. Exchanges and partner sequences between team members should be used as well as good use floor coverage and changing floor patterns. Unison between team members is important. There may also be sections of two baton in the routine. Specialties can be used such a spectacular exchanges or dynamic effects such as 3 or 4 baton also.
Dance Twirl Team...
Like a dance solo only within a team. The routine normally incorporates all of the above (Team Twirl) along with dance within the routine, looking at dance incorporated with the baton and utilization of music. See dance solo.
The minimum number of twirlers in a corps routine is 8. Split into 3 main sections, although they are all merged into the routine, the routine is judged on dance and composition, twirling, and marching and maneuvering. The routine normally incorporates all mentioned aspects of a team twirl and a dance team as well as marching and maneuvering (m+m), although the m+m section is not necessarily about marching but on what floor patterns are used and how the members move around the floor. Specialties can be used such a spectacular exchanges or dynamic effects such as 3 or 4 baton also.
Restictions within eventsSome events - Solo, 2Baton, Dance Solo, Duet, Twirl Team and Dance Team have restrictions on certain twirls you are allowed to complete within a routine. These include the number of spins and illusions under a baton, restrictions on the variety of releases and rceptions within the routine and the combinations or rolls allowed. These are within the Beginner and Novice sections. See the NBTA page under England Rules for a full explanation of what is allowed
Other events which are not sectioned into ability levels are
Pom Pom Dance team,
Pom Pom Traditional,
Pom Pom Theme,
Military Colour Guard
Parents Fun Routine,
If you would like info on any of these events mentioned here or any any information about the NBTA, or are interested in joining the NBTA you can contact the NBTA by visiting their website by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.
Although the BBTSA and NBTA offer many similar events and they both promote baton twirling as a sport, they run quite seperately from one another.
The BBTSA was founded in 1971 and was originally called the 'British Majorette Association'. It was a founder member of the WBTF (World Baton Twirling Federation) and the BBTSA was involved in the the first WBTF championships which were held in 1980.
In 1976 the BBTSA was regionalised (separated into regions around the country) and at present there are 15 Regions around Britain including Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Unlike the NBTA where you only have to qualify in some individual events, in the BBTSA you have to qualify in all events you enter. Individual events are... Basic Strut, Fancy Strut, Solo, Dance Solo, 2 Baton and Poise and Personality.
There is also a harder route to the Nationals.
The first competition of the BBTSA year is usually in January and this is a Regional competition (all the teams from a particular region compete together). For each event the top 10 placed contestants from each class go through to the Areas (2 Regions grouped together) which are usually held in February. From the Areas the top 5 or 7 placed contestants from each class go through to the Nationals (all Areas from all over the country compete together) to be held usually on the first bank holiday weekend in May.
Gymnastic moves are allowed in BBTSA competitions.
Only Solo and Dance solo have ability levels, which start from Beginner and go through to Advanced.
You can stay in Beginner for 2 years and then you automatically go up to Novice level. To advance through the ability levels from Novice onwards you have to place in the top 7 at Nationals to go up a level. So say you place 5th in Novice then the following year you will be Intermediate. It makes no difference whether you place in the top three, it is the top 7 places that count.
However some age groups only go up to certain levels. The highest level you can get up to in the Juvenile 2 age group is Novice. The highest level in Junior 1 is Intermediate and then from Junior 2 onwards you can reach Advanced in all age groups.
Some age groups also start in a higher ability level. Senior 1 onwards starts from Novice (there is no Beginner section) and the Adult sections starts from Intermediate.
The age groups are also different at BBTSA than at the NBTA as there are more. The competition age is taken from your age on the 31st December the year before competition.
- TinyTots, aged 6 and under
- Juvenile 1, aged 7-8
- Juvenile 2, aged 9-10
- Junior 1, aged 11-12
- Junior 2, aged 13-14
- Senior 1, aged 15-16
- Senior 2, aged 17-18
- Adult, aged 19 +
There are 6 individual events offered in the competitions running up to Nationals and here is a bit more information about them...
Basic StrutMarked in the same way as the NBTA competitions (in the way the march is actually done), only the Tiny Tot age group marches round in a square. From Juvenile One, you are expected to march in a 'T-Strut' (in a T shape) and there are a certain number of counts on each side that you have to remember. Also you have to salute at the beginning and end of the strut. There are no levels of ability in Basic Strut, everyone competes against each other.
Fancy StrutThis is very different to the NBTA style. As well as showing your flexibility and such, you are are allowed to release the baton and demonstrate tricks or connecting moves, alongside gymnastic moves. A dance and presentation aspect as well is required also. The routine is completed in an X shape. There are no levels of ability in Fancy Strut.
SoloSolo in the BBTSA is the same as the way the NBTA solo is done.
There are four levels of ability in solo, Beginner, Novive, Intermediate and Advanced.
In each ability level there are only certain moves you are allowed to do. For example in Beginner, you are allowed no more than a 1 spin with a back catch, and the levels of rolls is also restricted. This is to ensure that a higher level twirler cannot compete in a section too easy for them. As you advance through the ability levels you are allowed to do more tricks and harder twirls and gymnastic moves. Until Advanced where there is no limit on the amount or level of tricks or twirls you can do.
Dance SoloDance solo in the BBTSA is very similar to the way the NBTA Dance solo is done, although there is more emphasis in travelling moves and dance rather than static tricks. Again as with solo, there are restrictions on the level of tricks and twirls you can do in each ability level.
Two BatonTwo Baton in the BBTSA is more or less the same as within the NBTA, but there are no ability levels.
Poise and Personality (P&P)Poise and Personality is unique to the BBTSA. It is the shortest routine (between 30 and 40 seconds long)offered and is often a great way to introduce new twirlers to competition. The baton is not twirled in this routine, the emphasis is on dance, expressing your poise, grace and of course your personality. Dance moves, mostly balletic dance and travelling is incorparated into the routine whilst placing or passing the baton around your body and incorparating it without twirling it or releasing the baton in any way.Other individual events which are not in the competitions in the run up to Nationals are...
The costumes used for P&P often comprise of a long floaty skirt and sometimes ballet shoes, although this can be left up the individual.
Normally at the end of the competition day it is a good way to wind down the competition.
Mace SoloThis is a routine completed with a mace rather than a baton. Similar to a 'solo', the routine comprises of a number of twirls including aerials, connections, and rolls.
FreestyleThis is an event in which you select in to represent England in either the European or World Championships. Similar to a Dance Solo, (although there is scope for static tricks as well as traveling tricks), the routine is 5 minutes long and the individual chooses there own music to which the 'Freestyle' routine is set.
There are a number of team events offered within BBTSA. There are two main team competitions...firstly each region has it's own regional team competition and then in the last week of October, there is a twirling camp and the team nationals, where teams from all over the country compete against one another. Here are the team events offered...
DuetDuet is classed as a team event and the content is the same as that of an NBTA duet.
Pom Pom Team
TroupeThis is run along ther same lines as the 'Twirling Corps' within NBTA, except the Troupe routine must consist of 3 parts...a marching section, a twirling section and a dance section
Novelty TeamThis is a routine in which there is no limit on the number of team members and they are allowed to use whatever twirling or dance aspect they want and add props and such.Team routines that are selected for either the World or European Championships or both areYou can visit the BBTSA website with a contact address by visiting the link at the bottom of this page.
'Group'Team and group are run along the same lines as a dance team, but there are more specific guidelines for them.
PairsThis is basically a freestyle duet, with the same rules and guidelines as a freestyle routine.
Other Twirling or Majorette Associations
There are several other associations or federations which offer membership and the opportunity to compete as part of a team in either majorettes and/or baton twirling. Ones that I know of are...
(United Kingdom Federation of Majorettes)
This is only a limited amount of info about the UKFM....
The UKFM welcomes children and twirlers from 4 years old and is the only baton twirling association tht is recognized for the the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. It provides grading levels for the skill of majorettes: Bronze, Solver, Gold, Supreme One, Supreme Two, Supreme Three and Supreme Four.
The motto of the UKFM is 'To Help one Another'.
If you wnt to add to this rather limited info please do not hesitate to contact me and I happy to add more.
Other twirling associations in the UK include...
ETA(English Twirling Association)
BIBTA (British Isles Baton Twirling Association)
SWBTA (South Western Baton Twirling Association)
IBTA (International Baton Twirling Association)
SFBT (Scottish Federation of Baton Twirling)
ABTUK (Associated Baton Twirlers of the United Kingdom
UKBTA (United Kingdom Baton Twirlers Association)
NAME (National Association of Majorettes England
If there are any others that I have missed here, I apologize and if you would like to e-mail me, or sign the guest book with any others I would be happy to advertise them here.
If anybody has any information about the above mentioned associations, or if the any of the information is incorrect or out of date please feel free to e-mail me and I would be happy to write about them in this space.
National Baton Twirling Association
British Baton Twirling Sports Association