Forums: Skydiving: Instructors:
Muscle memory and practice pulls

 


dthames  (B 37674)

Jan 16, 2012, 5:09 PM
Post #1 of 16 (1357 views)
Shortcut
Muscle memory and practice pulls Can't Post

Imagine this. Put a pop bottle cap on the table with the open side up, within easy reach. Take a good look at where it is on the table, close your eyes (keep them closed), move your hand out with the goal of landing your finger inside the bottle cap. Feel around if you miss it and try again, never looking. After a few tries, you should have it and be able to repeat it, if you nor the cap moves.

If during this process someone helps you by guiding your hand, what effect does this have on your ability to learn how to find the spot to bring down your finger into the cap?

During AFF students often need some help finding the handle for the practice pulls. I was curious of anyone recalls conversations on how that type of help, effects the student’s learning of where the pull actually is. I know some students need more help than others. I was just curious if this topic comes up among instructors. I searched the forum and did not find such a thread.

Thanks,
Dan


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Jan 16, 2012, 5:49 PM
Post #2 of 16 (1332 views)
Shortcut
Re: [dthames] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Imagine this. Put a pop bottle cap on the table with the open side up, within easy reach. Take a good look at where it is on the table, close your eyes (keep them closed), move your hand out with the goal of landing your finger inside the bottle cap. Feel around if you miss it and try again, never looking. After a few tries, you should have it and be able to repeat it, if you nor the cap moves.
Sounds like a drinking game for college students.
LaughLaughLaugh


In reply to:
If during this process someone helps you by guiding your hand, what effect does this have on your ability to learn how to find the spot to bring down your finger into the cap?
Next time ya'll play that game, give a go and let us know how it worked out.
Tongue

In reply to:
During AFF students often need some help finding the handle for the practice pulls. I was curious of anyone recalls conversations on how that type of help, effects the student’s learning of where the pull actually is. I know some students need more help than others. I was just curious if this topic comes up among instructors. I searched the forum and did not find such a thread.

Thanks,
Dan
From my experience, it helps them when the instructor assists in showing them by guiding their hand. Of course, you give them the opportunity to find it on their own first but a guiding hand, if needed, does help.

Indeed, in the harness-hold programs, it's the main side instructors job to assist if needed both at practice pulls and at pull time.


dthames  (B 37674)

Jan 16, 2012, 6:20 PM
Post #3 of 16 (1317 views)
Shortcut
Re: [popsjumper] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

Pops,

Well, you challenged me, so I had to test. This was not very scientific. I have done this before, just on my own without “help”. I just now did the following.

I took a blind stab at it. I missed a bit, felt around, put my finger in the middle and then withdrew it, bending mostly at the elbow, until my hand was near my head. Then I went back down. Four of four times my fingertip touched the top edge of the cap. This was a cap of about 1” OD.

I started over but allowed my wife to gently guide my hand the first two times. Then the following three times I touched the cap twice on the top edge and once in the center.

The “help” certainly didn’t hurt my performance. I can’t say it helped because by the time I hit the center had done 8 or more touches, so maybe I was just getting better because of repetition. It might be interested to repeat tomorrow night with the “help” on the first cycle.


If you want to turn it into a drinking game, put booze in the bottle cap and use a straw in your mouth instead of your finger. Then have a teammate verbally guide you. Have two teams of two, each swapping turns (dunking) after a the other team member gets a "hit". First team to finish their bottle wins. I would guess after some time accuracy would start to suffer.

Dan


Feeblemind  (D 28621)

Jan 16, 2012, 8:13 PM
Post #4 of 16 (1295 views)
Shortcut
Re: [dthames] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

Dan,

Pops is right about harness hold instruction and the main side guiding the students hand to the handle.

Recently I observed a seasoned AFF-I with a student that was having issue on a horizontal trainer. The student was having issue locating the practice pilot chute (even after several attempts). The instructor had the student relax and take a break for a moment and then started to repeat the dive on the horizontal trainer. As the student began the dive flow the instructor told him to scratch his butt! the student gave him a bewildered look, said instructor said " you do know where your butt is don't you?" The student reached back and put his hand on his butt (all while having the same bewildered look) Said instructor then told the student to arch, low and behold the practice pilot chute was in his hand.

Some times it's the little things we do that can help us the most.Wink


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Jan 17, 2012, 5:06 AM
Post #5 of 16 (1253 views)
Shortcut
Re: [dthames] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I was just getting better because of repetition.

...and there ya' go! The key to it all....with or without help.


In reply to:
If you want to turn it into a drinking game, put booze in the bottle cap and use a straw in your mouth instead of your finger.
See? Spoken like a pro. Obviously, you know what you are doing.
LaughLaugh


Scrumpot  (D License)

Jan 17, 2012, 10:24 AM
Post #6 of 16 (1204 views)
Shortcut
Re: [dthames] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's the difference between your drill, and reality:

1. You are assuming that your "blind drill", done for LOCATION only, is identical to finding one's PC in freefall. - It is not. Here is the difference, and why the instructor guiding IS appropriate/correct...

Because of (or at least sometimes in part influenced by) the "high-stress" situation of a skydive, versus standing calmly, in a well known "safe"/familiar environment, and just doing blind touch-drills... In the air, when a student "misses" his/her PC, and/or grabs onto something OTHER than their PC (like say, the instructors alti - which BTW, happens a LOT) - oft times, they THINK that P/T was in of itself, "successful", then - UNLESS CORRECTED - locks onto that (even if erroneous - again, like the instructors alti) object. Come real pull-time, that is where they are gonna go!

So therefore, the instructors "re-direction" / hand-guidance becomes necessary. We are not just training for strictly just "blind" muscle memory to occur, to locate their P/C's (although that is a part of it), which your drill otherwise does EXCLUSIVELY. Thus also - absolutely nothing wrong with the "scratch your butt" device being used either (I'll have to remember/try that one too sometime). The idea is not necessarily to go right straight to the very center of that PC (or bottle-cap as you are using for your "practice") to be fully and satisfactorily successful in doing your P/T's - or the actual pull itself even either.

I've done it (pulled my own main) over 3,000 times now. I can tell you that even now - absolutely every single time, my hand does not hit DIRECTLY, to the exclusion of absolutely everything else, "dead center" on my hacky each and every time without fail either. But then again, it doesn't have to. It is the entire process, and capability to moreover directly determine instead - both what, and where you are reaching/grabbing. If we did not move their hands for them, at least in these formative stages - both in practice (on the ground) and in the air - they may not otherwise be able to determine either, that they have grabbed (if/when they do) the wrong thing(s).

Your brain-training exercise / theory is interesting, and probably partially applicable - but I don't think illustrates where/how for this application (skydiving training) - an instructors hand re-direction / guiding could really, in any way work against them (the students) or be "bad".


davelepka  (D 21448)

Jan 17, 2012, 10:38 AM
Post #7 of 16 (1200 views)
Shortcut
Re: [dthames] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

 
What you have described is locating the bottle cap through mucsle memory. The important step is the one where you finally locate it, and establish it's position. The unsuccessful attempts leading up to it aren't helpful, you really don't learn where it's not, you just miss and keep hunting for it. If the case was that you only had 3 or 4 choices for where it could be, then maybe the misses could count as 'process of elimination' and you would locate it by default, but that isn't the case here. Your finger is either in the bottle cap or out, and 'out' could be any one of 100 spots around it.

With that in mind, you can see that getting your hand on the PC on the first try establishes the location and begins to build the muscle memory. Allowing the student to miss does not contribute to the learning, and with the limited time available, it could become a blockage to learning if you hit pull time before the student works out the actual location.


dthames  (B 37674)

Jan 17, 2012, 5:12 PM
Post #8 of 16 (1152 views)
Shortcut
Re: [davelepka] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the replies. The point of “allowing a miss teaches nothing” is a great point.

I was not implying anything good or bad about any level of help. I have seen instructors totally hands off, if the student was easily finding the handle. I have seen instructors gently ready to guide if the need was there, and some that would guide no matter what.

What I was most curious about was if there was more than one school of thought on how much help was good. I have jumped with several instructors and can’t complain.

Dan


dthames  (B 37674)

Jan 17, 2012, 5:19 PM
Post #9 of 16 (1148 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Scrumpot] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

I did have one instructor guide me right to his altimeter so I would learn “that is NOT it”. He told me ahead of time he would do that because someone had tried to claw the thing off if his arm before.

Dan


theonlyski  (D License)

Jan 17, 2012, 5:27 PM
Post #10 of 16 (1145 views)
Shortcut
Re: [dthames] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I did have one instructor guide me right to his altimeter so I would learn “that is NOT it”. He told me ahead of time he would do that because someone had tried to claw the thing off if his arm before.

Dan

Odd, got teaching students "what to do", not "what not to do" beaten into me in my coach/aff courses.


davelepka  (D 21448)

Jan 17, 2012, 6:06 PM
Post #11 of 16 (1133 views)
Shortcut
Re: [dthames] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
I did have one instructor guide me right to his altimeter so I would learn “that is NOT it”. He told me ahead of time he would do that because someone had tried to claw the thing off if his arm before.

That sounds like a guy who was looking to 'impress' you with the story of almost having his altimeter ripped off. If you, as an instructor, have a real fear of that, the solution is not telling the student and then having the student demonstrate what not to do, the solution is to be pro-active and 'shadow' every strudent's hand as they go for a practice pull, even if they look spot on. This way, you can quickly intervene if anyone makes a grab for your alti.

Which beings me to my other point, in reference the different ways different instructors handle the practice pull situation. In the end, the instructors job is to assist the student if they need it. Some are happy to sit back and wait for the student to do something wrong before reaching in, and some prefer to 'shadow' every practice pull so they're that much closer if they need to step in.

I don't know if one is better than the other, but they do tend to teach new instructors to shadow the practice pulls, but I think that's due more to the 'formality' of the instructor certiifcation course, where they want to teach them to the letter of the law. If an instructor wants to 'relax' that proceudre a little once they're certified and in the field, so be it. I have seen many instructor examiners (the ones who give instructors their ratings) on live student jumps just sit there and watch, and don't make a move unless the student is way off base. I've even seen them let a student 'hunt around' on their own when they're close to the PC and trying to find it.


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Jan 17, 2012, 8:04 PM
Post #12 of 16 (1105 views)
Shortcut
Re: [davelepka] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
be pro-active and 'shadow' every student's hand as they go for a practice pull, even if they look spot on. This way, you can quickly intervene if anyone makes a grab for your alti.
Which, IMO, is the proper way to do it. You shadow. You let them find it on their own but you're right there in case they can't.

In reply to:
If an instructor wants to 'relax' that procedure a little once they're certified and in the field, so be it.
I can't agree with that. Call me hard-headed if you like.


(This post was edited by popsjumper on Jan 17, 2012, 8:04 PM)


dthames  (B 37674)

Jan 18, 2012, 4:16 AM
Post #13 of 16 (1089 views)
Shortcut
Re: [popsjumper] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

What really started my interest in this topic (what is the best kind of help for practice pulls) were some AFF training videos. In videos produced by one DZ the instructor was shadowing on every practice pull and on the pull. You couldn’t see all that well in the video that he was not touching and guiding. It looked like he was guiding all of the time. I thought this odd, but later became aware he was shadowing. This got my attention on the topic because other training videos were somewhat different on the practice pulls.

Again, thanks for the input and insight.

Dan


riggerrob  (D 14840)

Jan 19, 2012, 3:25 PM
Post #14 of 16 (1026 views)
Shortcut
Re: [dthames] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

Sounds like a great drinking game, but is not terribly relevant to a skydiving game.
A large part of the problem is that the container will shift on your back.
Far better to teach students "creative groping" techniques.
There are basically two directions to "grope" your way towards a BOC.

If you have long arms, start from the bottom. Scratch your backside, then slide your hand up until you feel the corner of the container with the inside of your wrist. Then slide your hand up until it fills with pilot chute handle.

OTOH If you have short arms, lay your thumb on the side wall of the container and slide it down to the corner.


jonathan.newman  (D 30644)

Jan 22, 2012, 5:40 PM
Post #15 of 16 (959 views)
Shortcut
Re: [dthames] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

From what I've seen with my students, guiding their hand is effective and helps them build muscle memory.

Typical first attempt is a total miss. Typical second attempt has the instructor guiding/slapping/wrapping the student's hand to the PC. Typical third attempt is a good solo practice pull. If the student doesn't get it, I signal for another attempt until they get at least one good solo practice.

Once the instructor has guided the student's hand once, the subsequent attempts are all done well. To answer your question, the instructor's help positively effects the desired behavior in the student .

Funniest I ever saw was a student do three good solo practices, and then at pull time reach back with the left handUnsure


dninness  (D 19617)

Jan 23, 2012, 4:09 PM
Post #16 of 16 (929 views)
Shortcut
Re: [jonathan.newman] Muscle memory and practice pulls [In reply to] Can't Post

I always tell my students "When you have the gear on, constantly be building up that muscle memory by doing practice touches. On the ground, practice touches are free. In the sky, a missed pull can often lead to a re-jump, and that is costly, so take advantage of the free training!" Students seem a little reticent at first because they feel it looks stupid them standing there waving their arms around..

Another thing: I was a static line baby. Ripcord on the hip. We were taught (right or wrong) "Arch, look, reach, pull, check." I had a serious dearching problem at pulltime caused by looking down at my handle. One of my S/L instructors said "Hey, reach for that handle without looking.." I said "But.. we were told to look!" He replied "Do you look back when you reach for your wallet?"

Occasionally, when I get a student who is either not getting the practice touches or doesn't seem to want to practice on the ground, I'll relate that little anecdote about looking for your wallet. Its far more appropos now that student containers are BOC. I say "practice reaching for that handle so that it is as natural and practiced as reaching for your wallet." (obviously, this really only works for guys. Not many women carry a wallet in the back pocket)

Its funny, but very quickly I learned how to recognize the ones who are going to have problems at pull time.

Very early in my AFF "career," I had a CAT A student who did just fine on the horizontal trainer, the mock up, etc, but he was not very accurate about actually getting his hand on the handle.

I was on the main side and did not properly reinforce him putting his hand on the handle the way I probably should have ("experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted" and I was about to get a ton of experience).

We're in freefall, and he goes to do his practice touches. His first one, I'm reaching up to grab his hand as it comes back and before I can get his hand, he snaps back into the boxman. "WTF?" I think, and think "OK, here's come number two.." and again, I miss his hand (he did not even reach as far back as the level of his shoulder). I'm like "Oh, you sonofabitch!" and resolve that I'm gonna get his hand on #3. Nope. Fucking guy just made this half-ass twisting of his upper arm/wrist and back into the box man.

Now, what I *should* have done was thrown "practice touches" at him again. We had plenty of time. But I wasn't thinking/anticipating that you could actually give 'practice pulls' again (of course you can! I just did not think of it), so I did not give him that signal.

What happened come pull time? I should have anticipated this. I throw him the check alti, he waves off, and goes to pull. He twists his arm back just about shoulder level and pantomimes throwing out the pilot chute. Problem was, his hand never even came within 24 inches of the handle.

I dumped him out, and on the ground he swore up and down that he touched the handle every time, threw the pilot chute, etc. I was seriously wishing for video on that one.

Since then, I've gotten pretty good at identifying the ones who are going to brainlock at pulltime.


(This post was edited by dninness on Jan 23, 2012, 4:10 PM)



Forums : Skydiving : Instructors

 


Search for (options)