Course spotlight: Drill

Lt Cdr (SCC) Paul Barker MBE RNR, HQSO Ceremonial, brings you the lowdown on drill, from what it is to why we do it

Cadets march in formation
Drill is an important part of being a cadet

What is drill? 

In a nutshell, drill is moving your body in a controlled and synchronised manner. It’s walking smartly with purpose and posture. Drill has been used for hundreds of years by the military and other uniformed organisations to instil discipline, leadership and teamwork, set standards and enable individuals to work in unison when moving as a group (known as a ‘squad’). We use drill as a ceremonial tool to showcase our cadets and volunteers at high-profile events, often alongside military personnel and other cadet forces.

Do all cadets do it?

In keeping with the customs and traditions of the Royal Navy, Sea Cadets trains all uniformed volunteers and cadets in drill to the best of their ability. It’s an important part of Sea Cadets.

What are some of the benefits?

All who do drill on a regular basis will improve their teamworking abilities, gain confidence and develop the skills required to become a leader, whatever their ability. Drill is used in most units to start and finish the evening’s parade: we always start with Colours and finish with Evening Colours, so we do drill on each occasion. 

How high can cadets go with drill?

Within the Cadet Training Programme, we have clear lessons at each level and cadets progress as they develop at each rank/rate. Cadets are assessed on promotion boards to ensure they are at the correct level for their next rank/rate. This is true at certain stages of volunteer progression as well.

What are Drill Instructors/Leaders?

This role is a specialisation. Cadets and volunteers can both follow this pathway. Sea cadets become Drill Instructors and royal marines cadets become Drill Leaders, following the terms used by the
Royal Navy and Royal Marines. 

What is the drill pathway for cadets?

The specialisation pathway for drill is available on the T&A and is broken down into three stages, which you can see at the bottom of this page. Courses are available throughout the UK and can be found on the Sea Cadets Portal and Westminster. Talk to the volunteers at your unit to learn more.

Is there a drill competition?

Sea Cadets holds an annual National Drill Competition that is open to all cadets and has five different classes (SC Guard, SC Unarmed Squad, SC Colour Party, SC Continuity Drill and RMC Guard). The competition starts at district level, with the winners moving on to area and then national.

Diagram showing the drill progression for cadets

More news & Events

Cadets pose and smile for the camera at the competition

News: Summer 2022

The biggest news stories from Sea Cadets across the country

A waterborne tribute to the Queen shows boats in the shape of the number 70

Area news summer 2022: Jubilee special!

See how units around the UK celebrated HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Share news from your area by emailing

Smiling cadet paddling a kayak

Course spotlight: Water Safety

At Sea Cadets we paddle, sail and row all year, so water safety is really important to us. Find out about the test that all cadets need to do to stay safe