Baton twirling, the sport of weaving under a baton while performing tricks, is not as girly and glitzy as it seems. There are sparkling costumes and mountains of fake hair, but the sport itself isn’t for the weak-boned or lighthearted.

It’s filled with bruised noses, bleeding nails, sore thigh muscles and chunks of hair that get ripped out during illusions. I’ve been twirling for nine years, two competitively, three with the marching band in high school, and four as a hobby . My twirling experience wasn’t  that intense, but it was a labor of sweaty bras and frustration all for the sake of metal sticks.

Despite what haters say, baton twirling is a sport, just like basketball,football, or baseball – we just look daintier in our sweat. Here are ten reasons why baton twirling is for strong AF women.

1. When performing a routine, you must smile the entire time

coffee, water, beer
Mackenzie Patel

Even when you drop the baton, slip, get your leotard in wedgie, or have your fake hair fly off the court – that smile better be plastered to your face like those fake eyelashes.

2. Batons have bruised every part of your body

Don’t think two pound sticks are heavy? Think again when they're metal, spinning with a high angular momentum, and falling from several feet in the air. The worst is when batons strike your nose or your lips; either way, a black bridge or busted lip are inevitable. I also had problems with hand bruising on the second metacarpal.

3. Having hundreds or thousands of people staring at you, waiting for you to drop the baton, is stressful

Mackenzie Patel

It’s easier for marching band members to hide their mistakes, but holding a flaming baton – and then dropping it in front of the alumni section – is a different story.

4. Just like any sport, baton twirling demands perfection

The routines have to be flawless, with every trick, choreography, and transition timed impeccably. “Good enough” won’t slide, especially when ten girls must be in sync. Imagine practicing a four spin repeatedly for two to three hours– dizzy yet?

5. Baton twirling isn’t just finger twirls and high kicks: it’s performing gymnastics under the baton, too

Cartwheels, walkovers, aerials, backflips, and illusions are hard enough. Throw in a flying piece of metal and it’s leotard pandemonium. The upside is that twirlers develop killer arm and leg muscles - every practice session is toning day. Our nutrition is also *top notch* to keep up with the physical demands. 

6. Getting costumes made is a mess of sharp needles and endless fittings

chocolate, strawberry, birthday cake, rose, cake
Mackenzie Patel

Costumes are also expensive: my first twirling costume cost $100, and I was just a beginner. Add $60 for jazz shoes, $35 per baton (I had three), and $50 for hair/makeup

7. Baton twirlers can perform with two and three batons at one time

Imagine juggling, performing tricks under, and spinning around a football field with multiple metal rods. Twirlers also perform tricks with random parts of their bodies, like the neck or in between the legs. 

8. Being a competitive twirler means sacrificing part of your social life

Extracurriculars are limited to baton twirling since the practice hours are long and strenuous. Majorettes for college practice at least 6 days a week, three+ hours a day, with longer hours on game day. The upside is that you find like-minded, talented individuals who are your twirling family.  

9. Callouses weather the hands of twirlers

Mackenzie Patel

In addition to the hand bruises mentioned above, finger twirls and flashes used to give me leathery knots on the outside of my index finger. 

10. Twirlers have to perform under any weather conditions

Windy, rainy, muddy - it's fair game as long as lightning isn't involved. Trust me, having to toss a baton with wet hands and slippery shoes is a multi-drop disaster. 

The Bottom Line

Baton twirling may not be in the Olympics, but it’s nothing to demean or laugh about either. It’s also extremely inclusive, open to both men and women athletes (although women usually dominate in the US).

No one thinks about the bruised hands behind the performances or the hundreds of practice hours for seven minutes on the field. However, as twirlers, we adore the sport and wouldn’t have it any other way.