Maximizing Your Team/Group Critique

As a judge who is gearing up for a new year and a new season, not only is it necessary to collect your judging materials, become familiarized with the updated and new rules, procedures and expectations, but also prepare yourself mentally. Coaches, parents and athletes are actively engaged in the training and competitive process most of the year. The same can not be said for the judging community because the Fall season is a more dormant season for competitions.  

Watching the performance example videos, viewing performances on YouTube, comparing performances to the scoring scales is one way to prepare yourself, but the other preparation that is needed is to practice your analytical thoughts and verbalization skills for critiques.  

Without preparation and practice, providing voice recorded feedback to the coaches during a performance can seem as a daunting task. In order to assist you to prepare valuable feedback, here are a few outline tips to use as a reference.


As you are visually watching and then providing immediate feedback, provide comments that both support the designer and athletes growth, as well as, affirm what they are doing well.


Evaluate the athletes’ quality and development of skills:

  • Priorities of proper developmental progression in all twirling modes; aerial, rolls, contact material demonstrating an ambidextrous development, and both vertical and horizontal pattern.  
  • Coordination and blending of baton, body, and music.  
  • Is there “teamwork”? Evaluate if each team member is being utilized equally.  Assess if the athletes are developing with the need and trust of their team members.   The material should be appropriate for the skill level of the team members. Sometimes at the beginner level the performers struggle with the success rate of exchanges due to expectations beyond the ability or poor technique in the release.  As the judge, identify your perception as to where you feel more development needs to occur in order to help the coach and athlete to be successful.


Evaluate the success of the collaboration of designer and athlete.  The “what”  of the program.

  • Is the program paced well with a beginning, middle, and end?
  • Are there planned effects and resolutions in how it relates to the phrasing of the music and transitions of formations.  
  • Does the program possess appropriate staging and are athletes placed well within the form?
  • Is the program a reflection of the music which encourages compatibility between the program and the athletes?


  • Are the athletes aware of form responsibilities and spatial awareness?
  • An athlete’s recovery skills may demonstrate an athlete’s proficiency level and comfortability in working as a team.
  • Does the team display the ability to entertain?


The success or weakness of execution can be attributed to several entities:

  • Preparation and/or training can hinder or promote a team’s success.
  • Effective design will help the performers to execute comfortably and helps to keep an audience engaged throughout the performance.


Much like coaches, judges are able to grow and develop based on feedback that they receive. As judges often give feedback to the coaches, rarely do the judges receive positive feedback in regards to their critique. If you experience helpful comments from a critique, consider letting the USTA’s Judges Department Director know so that she can pass the information on.  Contact information: Kathy Butera, if or when you have experienced a critique that you deemed as helpful.

Amanda Guidroz

Amanda Guidroz is both a Coach and a Master Judge.

2 thoughts on “Maximizing Your Team/Group Critique

  • March 10, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Amanda, this article was appreciated and very timely for me. The first Maryland Baton Council contest of the new twirling year was yesterday. Thankfully, I saw your article in Knowledge Central on Friday night. During the first couple of contests of the season, I’m always a little fretful as to whether I’m providing valuable feedback on team/group events. This article was an excellent reminder of what can and should be addressed in our feedback to the coaches, as well as a motivator for doing just that! THANKS! – Melody

  • May 4, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Excellent article Amanda. We all need to be reminded of the value in good feedback and there are some good tips in this article.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: