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Army Shoulder Roll Exercise 2023

The Army Shoulder Roll is the first guerrilla drill exercise, developing the soldier’s ability to safely fall and roll up to a standing position.

  • The Military designed this exercise to teach soldiers how to safely fall and roll to a standing position, improving their agility, coordination, and ability to recover from a fall or tumble. 
Army Shoulder Roll
Army Shoulder Roll


Here is a breakdown of the shoulder roll exercise as it would be conducted in a formation:

  1. Starting Position: The straddle stance is the beginning posture.
  2. Initial Movement: Step forward with the left foot, squat down, and make a wheel with the arms by placing the left hand on the ground, fingers facing rearward. Point the lead elbow in the direction of desired travel. The right hand is also on the ground with the fingers facing forward.
  3. Rolling Technique: Tuck the chin to avoid injury to the neck. Push off with the right leg and roll over the left shoulder along the left side of the body. Do not roll onto the neck.
  4. Gaining Momentum: The push must generate enough momentum to bring the soldier up to the knees.
  5. Standing Up: Continue to the feet by pushing off with the rear leg to stand up.
  6. Alternate Rolls: Step forward and switch hand and leg positions to roll to the opposite side.
  7. Continuation: Continue alternating shoulder rolls until crossing the 25-meter line.

Check Points:

  • Lead with the left foot when rolling on the left shoulder and the right foot on the right shoulder.
  • Hands are placed on the ground, facing each other, with the middle fingertips of each hand touching at the tips so the arms form a wheel.
  • Rotate the upper body so the lead elbow points straight to the front while maintaining a wheel with the arms.
  • Tuck the chin so ground contact is made with the arms, shoulder blades, and back, but not the neck.
  • The momentum of the roll brings Soldiers up to their knees. Continue to the feet by pushing off with the rear leg while standing on the front leg.


  • The PRT leader and an AI(s) must ensure that Soldiers are in the proper squatting position for the roll by ensuring that their hands are on the ground and their chins are tucked before rolling.

My Experience Shouler Rolling

  • The steps I have outlined above are a structured approach to the guerrilla drill, particularly the shoulder roll exercise, emphasizing the importance of proper technique and coordination.
  • I am using these to ensure the safe and effective execution of this military training exercise.

Purpose of the Army Shoulder Roll

  • Physical Development: Enhances leg power, coordination, and balance.
  • Practical Skill: Teaches soldiers how to fall safely, an essential skill that can reduce injury during combat or rigorous training.

Army Shoulder Roll Techniques

  1. Starting Position: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and prepare to initiate a forward roll over one shoulder.
  2. Arm Placement: As you move into the roll, tuck one arm in, placing the hand of the opposite arm on the ground.
  3. Tuck the Chin: Protect your head and neck by tucking your chin to your chest as you initiate the roll.
  4. Rolling Motion: Utilize your tucked arm and shoulder as the central pivot point, diagonally across the back to the opposite hip.
  5. Completion: Use the momentum of the roll to come back up to a standing or crouched position.


  • Martial Arts: In martial arts like Judo or Aikido, shoulder rolls are practiced to teach students how to fall safely and absorb the impact during throws.
  • Boxing: In boxing, a “shoulder roll” refers to a defensive technique where the boxer uses the front shoulder to deflect or absorb punches, then counters with the opposite hand.
  • Gymnastics: Gymnasts use shoulder rolls as a foundational skill to learn more advanced tumbling techniques.
  • Military Training: As described in the Army context, shoulder rolls teach soldiers how to fall and recover safely.

Benefits of the Shoulder Roll

  • Safety: Learning to perform a shoulder roll helps absorb impact and minimize injury when falling.
  • Agility: It increases body awareness, flexibility, and control.
  • Defensive Skill: In certain combat sports, it is a defensive technique.


  • Safety: Proper technique is vital to avoid injury, especially to the neck.
  • Progression: Soldiers may practice this in a formation, alternating shoulder rolls, possibly across a specific distance like a 25-meter line.

The Army shoulder roll is more than a physical exercise; it’s a practical skill crucial in combat. 

George N.