All About Color Guard Flag Poles

Your flags are an essential part of your color guard and winter guard show, but if you’re not using the right flagpole you could be compromising your performance. If your pole is too small or too flexible, you might not be getting the leverage you need for those big movements. Too big, and your show may be all pole and no flag!   

Pretty African-American color guard performer spinning a purple flag on an ultralite flag pole.
photo courtesy of Southridge High

Poles come in a variety of lengths, materials, and colors; each one works best in different situations. Below are just a few recommendations to help you get started! As with all of our tips and suggestions, feel free to experiment. Find what works best for you and your group. 

Length 

We went more in depth on this topic in our article “Flag Basics Part 3: Does Size Matter”. Be sure to check that out for more ideas.  

A good rule of thumb is that your flag should be exactly ½ the length for your pole. For example, if your flag has a header of 36”, then your pole should be 6’ long. 

color guard flag size diagram
  • 5-foot pole – 30″ x 46″ 
  • 5.5-foot pole – 33″ x 50″ 
  • 6-foot pole – 36″ x 54″ 
  • 7-foot pole – 42″ x 60″ 

While this size ratio is great for most situations, drill team flags, wings, swing flags, and giant flags are the exception. For drill team flags, we recommend using poles made specifically for smaller flags such as a swing flag chain kit or swing flag poles in either aluminum or fiberglassUltralite swing flag poles are available in a wider range of sizes so they’re the perfect choice for larger swing flags and wings. And at just ½” in diameter you can hold two poles in one hand for those more advanced techniques!  
 
Ready to go big or go home? Then our giant flag bungee poles are a great option to fit those big 6’ headers, the bell fitting system on these pole helps with storage.  

Pro tip: If you have extra room and a hardware store nearby, you can also use PVC pipe made for hot water supplies!  Also called “CPVC”, this pipe is made using a process that gives the plastic slightly different qualities. It’s strength and one-piece design make it perfect for giant flags (and it’s easier on the budget too 😉 ). You can also use this for swing flags poles! But you’ll want to avoid using PVC for standard sized poles. Because of the inherent flexibility of the material, it can create unnecessary strain on your wrists that could lead to injury. 

Material 

Color Guard flag poles come in three materials, aluminum, fiberglass, and PVC, which material you choose will come down to your own personal preference. In most cases, Band Shoppe is definitely team-aluminum!   
 
Aluminum flag poles last longer, have less vibration when dropped, and are more ridged, giving your better control with smoother movements, less drag, and no wobble – for which PVC is notorious.  

Colors 

The material you choose for your flag poles will limit your color options. Aluminum poles have the best choice in Silver, Gold, Black, and White, fiberglass comes in Black or White, PVC is available in Clear or White (10’ only). 

Color guards choose their pole colors for different reasons. Many groups default to Silver as their go-to because it matches most flag designs and has low visual impact on field or floor, with Black as a strong contender. White is very visible; you may decide to use this to your advantage when highlighting strong choreography. Gold poles may be selected to coordinate with school colors or to emphasize a flag design. A clear flagpole is great for adding unique visual effects like glitter, streamers, and even LED lights!  

Pro tip: If you want more color, Band Shoppe’s  Ultra Prop Film is a great way to get a seamless look that coordinates or contrasts with your flags. And application is easy, just measure out the amount needed to cover your pole lengthwise, peel off the paper backing, and press on. Check out our step-by-step video for more tips!  

Accessorize  

A flag pole is just a humble pipe without the right accessories!  

CAP IT: Depending on what style you choose, all of Band Shoppe’s color guard and winter guard flag poles include either a crunch tip or plastic caps. Replacement pole caps and tips are also available so that you can keep your pole looking great season after season.  

WEIGHTS: In Part 4 of our Flag series, “Weighting Your Pole”, we talked all about pole weights, how to install them, with a free printable guide help get you started.  

TAPE: In addition to Ultra Prop Film, we also have a selection of rifle tape and electrical tape. These tapes are great for securing your weights and caps in place. 

GLOVES: Be kind to your hands and keep a steady grip with fingerless gloves made specifically for color guard and winter guard with strategically placed padded areas that help to protect the hand without sacrificing grip. Our favorites are the Blade Runner Fingerless Glove and the StylePLUS Grip Factor Fingerless Glove

BAG: It’s important to keep your poles, flags, and all your accessories safe and organized between shows or during the off-season. Band Shoppe offers a selection of equipment bags including our best-selling Personal Guard Equipment Bag

Author: Band Shoppe

Since 1970, Band Shoppe proudly continues to provide quality products, prompt delivery and outstanding customer service to music educators and guard instructors around the globe. First Place Starts Here! Shop Online @ bandshoppe.com