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Disciplines

    Debriefing Structure

    In the interest of creating a positive training environment and promoting the optimum state of mind for learning, we have developed a debriefing structure, which puts the majority of responsibility in the hands of each player.
    Coach's / Facilitator's responsibilities:
    Restate team and individual goals;
    State positive things;
    Ensure group stays on plan;
    Following each individual turn, confirming their thoughts and pointing out things that may have been missed.
    Players' responsibilities:
    Listen to each other;
    State positive things (about anyone);
    State things that need improvement (about themselves);
    Make plan on how to improve;
    Make smart goals. Working this system will steepen your team’s learning curve. Listening to each other mistakes and fixes, allows you to learn from each other, a much less painful way to learn.
    Complimenting each other performance, builds self-esteem giving confidence to push further. Reinforcing correct performance helps commit it to memory, increasing the chances of repeating it.
    Stating your own errors, avoids the pitfalls in finger pointing. Having first said it to yourself leaves no room for abusive accusations from your teammates. It will also create a deeper sense of ownership for the mistake, increasing your responsibility to get it corrected.
    Setting goals for improvement from jump to jump, will keep you clear and focused on what you are working on. The system will help you come to realize that it is OK to make mistakes, a much easier headspace to learn in.
    Airspeed 4-Way Training Work Book

    ©1998 – Jack Jefferies, Airspeed – All Rights Reserved
    Related Links:

    Airspeed.org
    Tunnelcamp.com
    Mariosantos.com

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Goals

    Setting goals could be the single most important ingredient to success. There are basically three different types of goals: long, medium, and short-range. The long-range goal is where you need to start; everything falls in behind this one. You need to understand what you want, look at what you are willing to sacrifice, and decide on a long-range goal.
    It is helpful if each individual goes through this process for himself, before the team does it as a unit. Individual long-range goals are usually a little more far reaching that the team ones and therefore must be decided upon first. Like any important team decisions, when deciding on the team’s end goal, be sure to agree by consensus. Everyone must own this goal. It would be easy for the more dominate character to push a decision through that isn’t really what everyone wants. If this happens it is unlikely that everyone will “buy” into the plan and you have just sown a seed for future conflicts.
    Now that you know where the team is going, it is necessary to make a map on how to get there. Here you need to make a series of medium-range goals that will roughly outline your path to success. In this stage of planning, it is very helpful to have a professional with you to give expert guidance on what is necessary to reach your end goal.
    Short-range goals are better made as you go along. Your strengths and weaknesses are hard to predict and therefore must be addressed as you go. However, do be clear about what subjects you would like to make goals around and how often you will be making and debriefing them.
    Do not fear making goals because you may not reach them. This is quite normal and very OK. If a goal proves to be ambitious rethink it and adjust the goal.
    Examples of Goals:
    Block Times
    Exit Break Times
    Meet Averages
    Personal Conduct
    Team Conduct
    Second Point Times
    Personal Effort
    Team Effort
    Planning
    Communication
    (…) Airspeed 4-Way Training Work Book

    ©1998 - Jack Jefferies, Airspeed - All Rights Reserved
    Related Links:

    Airspeed.org
    Tunnelcamp.com
    Mariosantos.com

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Learning to Fly With Weights

    With today's fast fall rates, weights are essential for lighter weight jumpers. Small jumpsuits are not enough, especially when jumpers in the base are also wearing smaller jumpsuits. There is nothing more embarrassing than making a nice swoop to your slot only to pop three feet above everybody else when you break for the second point. Been there, done that.
    But it is not as simple as just slapping on ten pounds of weight and swooping. There is a learning curve involved. Jumpers wearing weights for the first time face the fear of going low. They have to learn how to fly with the extra ballast. They have to learn how to fly like a heavier jumper. That means they have to set up a little higher on approach. They also have to stop a little sooner then they are used to doing. Maybe for the first time, they have to fly cautiously. And some jumpers have to learn how to use different amounts of weight for different sizes of formations. It is a challenge, but one you have to face head on if you want to get invited on the good loads.
    For jumpers wearing weights for the first time, the roles can suddenly be reversed. The big boys in the base might get their chance to watch the lightweights sucking air as they go low. (I'm sure this puts a little smile on the big fellas' faces.) But don't fret. Show the big boys how quickly you can pop back up and get in. For those of you who have never had to worry about going low, here's a little primer.
    If you go low, move away from the formation and turn sideways to the formation. While keeping the formation in sight, lower your head and spread your arms and legs out as far as possible to assume a flat stance. Push down on the air as much as you can with your hands and feet. Crunch your gut muscles if you have to. Hold this position until you are far enough above the formation to make a good approach. (Forget the old 'hugging the beachball' theory. That actually lets air spill out all around you.)
    Let's say you made it in and you're fairly proud of yourself. You glided smoothly into your slot without having to fight to stay down with the formation. Of course, you had to watch your altitude. No more approaches from below the formation. The weights kept you honest.
    Now it's time to move to the next point. When you let go, you feel like you're in sequential heaven! You don't have to swim and flail to stay down with the big boys. You simply move laterally to your next position. What a treat!
    But don't get too cocky just yet. The next point is a "floaty" one. The big boys in the middle quickly build a 4-way compressed accordion and you are moving around to pod the end. "What happened?" you think as you sink two feet below your slot. Whoops! You've never had to watch your altitude this closely before. "Hee-hee!" go the big boys again as they watch you recover (again).
    But you're a good jumper and it only takes you a second to pop up and move into your slot. You tell yourself that you'll watch your altitude a little closer on the next move, and you do. The last point is a round and you feel like one of the big boys as you meet them in the center and don't have to work to stay down with them.
    "Piece of cake," you think to yourself. As you track off, you feel some of the old cockiness returning. But the cockiness starts to fade after you land and start wondering if the big boys will let you jump on the next load with them. Well, don't worry about it. You might not be ready for another big-way just yet. In fact, your next step should be to check out the weights on some smaller formations, preferably 4-ways. Remember I said that some jumpers have to use different amounts of weight for different size formations?
    So don't rush things. Check out the weights on several smaller ways. Depending on how often you make it out to the DZ, this could take several weeks, even months. Just remember that you are learning to fly all over again. You might have gotten into some bad habits by flying like a lightweight. I know I did. I had gotten used to diving down and not stopping until I was level with the formation. Then I'd make a perfectly level approach from where I had stopped. Boy! Did I ever get my wake up call the first time I tried this with weights.
    Another factor to consider is where to wear the weights on your body. From my experience, vests seem to work better for women and belts for men. It's just pure physiognomy. Women are typically lighter in the upper torso area, men in the hip area. But this isn't a hard and fast rule. Take me for instance. I wear both a vest AND a belt, but I only carry three pounds in the vest, whereas I carry six in the belt, nine pounds in all.
    What works for one person may not work for another. A couple of guys at my home DZ wear about ten pounds in a belt. All I know is that without the weights I wouldn't be jumping on the hot loads at my DZ. I wouldn't be doing hot 4-way either. I'm sure if you talked to my DZ's head organizer, he would tell you that I have made great strides in my performance since getting the weight thing figured out. It was hard work but it was darned well worth it. I know I'll be in some of the hot skydives in the year-end videos!

    By elightle, in Disciplines,

    Keeping Good Records

    Keeping good records is a hallmark of most successful teams. It has been said that in order to manage success, you must be able to measure success. What this means is that in order to know where you are going, you need to know where you are.
    There are many different details that our team tracks: block times, exit breaks and second point times, which formations we have exited, what cross training we have done and when, meet scores and averages.
    We are diligent with the record keeping, doing it each jump or at least every day. Record each occurrence so that you know how often you have seen any given move, but only pay attention to general trends. Do not get hung up on specific times: they are only a small part of the whole picture.
    Make specific goals around these statistics, what average time or score do we want by what date. Doing this, will go far keeping the team on track.
    Airspeed 4-Way Training Work Book

    ©1998 - Jack Jefferies, Airspeed - All Rights Reserved
    Related Links:

    Airspeed.org
    Tunnelcamp.com
    Mariosantos.com

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Performing Your Best In Competition

    For many people, there is a lot of anxiety around their personal and team’s performance in competition. Many teams have trained to a high level of performance, only to have their dreams broken by falling apart the day of the meet. There are specific reasons this happens and there is a way to avoid them.
    With proper preparation you can avoid the pitfalls encountered by these unlucky teams. There is also a lot to be done the day of the meet, to ensure you perform your best. In this section we will describe the processes to be followed in training, as well as the basic strategies to be observed the day of the meet, which will help you perform your best.
    It is important to understand that the meet is won in training. On the day of the meet everything must be automatic. You must understand your plan without thought. Your pace, engineering, how all the pictures look, must be second nature. To do this, you need to train in meet conditions for a long period of time prior to the actual meet. You must train at the same speed and intensity you will compete with. You must make no changes in technique even if it is obviously better. Change your game plan from pushing for more speed and better times to one that develops consistency in your performance. Keep detailed records so you will better understand what you are capable of. Remember: if you don’t know it, you aren’t going to learn it the day of the meet.
    The hungrier you are to jump, the better you will perform. As the meet draw is near, the team needs to rest. Make less jumps, take a day off, two or three days prior to the first round. Jump half days for the reminder, just to stay warm. Trim down the intensity, or completely cease, your fitness routines, allowing your body to fully recover and be at its strongest. Take part in healthy distractions. Get off the drop zone and engage in different sports. This will allow your mind to relax, yet keep your mind and body sharp for the meet. It is preferable to do this with your team, keeping that energy consolidated. Do not party, as it is a distraction that will dull your senses and distance you from your connection with the sport.
    The more energy we have, the better we will perform. Unfortunately, we have a finite supply of this precious commodity. There are many things we can do to gather and save energy. Come to the meet prepared. Have a place to stay that will be comfortable to you. Be sure you have or can easily get the food and water that you need. Plan to have all the equipment you may need: creepers, video gear and skydiving gear. Come to the meet early. We need a lot of time to acclimate to an area. We must get used to the aircraft, the drop zone systems, the food, the air and our own operating plan. We do not want any shocks to our system at the day of the meet. Have a specific game plan so that everyone is very clear about what is expected of him. Make it efficient and thorough, so that everything is done with the least possible expenditure of energy. It is best if the team can stick together as much as possible. People feel strong and safe when they are with their team. Know where everyone is at all the time and communicate with each other about where you are going. It will help if the team has a meeting area where everyone spends all his free time.
    During the meet, there is a lot that can be done to conserve energy. It is important that you stay relaxed between rounds or during any weather holds. You can burn a tremendous amount of energy in these times, leading to exhaustion. As you relax, you must stay mentally alert. You must be prepared to make your next round at almost any time. Try reading or playing game-boy but do not sleep, as waking completely from sleep can take more time than you have. Find distractions that work for you. Take care of your diet and be sure to eat many small meals to avoid lethargy. Avoid socializing, as it will sap a lot of energy. There will be plenty of time for socializing at the banquet.
    As the meet draw is near, people experience an unusually high level of stress. This will tend to shorten their tempers and create a general paranoia. Good communication becomes even more critical. Have very regular team meetings, preferably everyday, where one is free to speak their mind. This will alleviate fears and conflicts that could produce major problems later.
    Know the rules. Not knowing the rules at a meet is like going to court without a lawyer. Meets have been won and lost by team’s manipulation of the rules. Remember: it’s not what you do that counts, but it’s what the judges see. You must skydive for them, so train for them.
    Many competitors talk of feeling pressure or stress to such a level as to hinder their performance. This stress is something experienced when we enter into an unknown situation, one where there is a certain element of danger such as the risk of failure. When we sense danger, our body reacts in many ways to prepare itself for fight. A certain amount of this will enhance our performance; too much will negatively influence our best efforts. Much of the time, the stress is allowed to run away with itself. If you can put that energy to use for yourself, it will make you better. The first thing to do is to change what you call it. Instead of calling it pressure or stress, call it energy. Energy is something we think of as controllable. Channel that extra energy to improve your skydiving. Focus it into your anticipation or your awareness. Use it to make you stronger, giving you more endurance and a general feeling of invincibility.
    Confidence is the keystone to performing at your best. When you are confident, your mind and body are relaxed allowing them to perform at their best. Your outlook is positive, keeping you visualizing the correct action. There are a few things that can be done to ensure you have the highest level of confidence possible. First of all, engineer your competition dives so that you are doing things that you have already successfully done in the past. Just knowing that you done this kind of move before, will give you confidence. Be sure you stick to your game plan. It is a common mistake of teams to see their competition doing something, which is obviously better but something they have never done, and change their plan at the last moment. Although the move may be faster, you will be unfamiliar with it and therefore uncomfortable. To do this correctly, you must be aware of what you can do. Train properly by sticking to a plan and keeping good records, and you will know it. With deciding how to do the meet dives, the bottom line is: go with what feels comfortable. Choose a couple of different options, run through them on the creepers, and pick the one that feels good even if it is not the absolute most efficient method.
    Positive visualization is paramount for confidence. When you are reviewing the rounds in your head, see them working perfectly. If your fears intrude and start making you see mistakes, know them for what they are and put them away from your mind. Remember it is your mind, so you are in control of what you think.
    Positive support from your teammates and those close to you, will also help to cover the long way towards building your confidence. A history of positive support will relieve you from the stress of worrying about what these people will think of you if you make a mistake. When mistakes happen, realize that the person is trying his best and support him with positive reinforcement. Remember: his performance on the next round is tied to his confidence, and your success in the meet is tied to his performance. If you make a mistake, realize that you are better than that and go up on the next round determined to do your best. Let the last jump go, so you can focus on the next.
    Most people pile too much pressure on themselves. They are overly concerned with what people will think of them if they make a mistake. They will go into competition with the belief that they cannot make a single mistake. Expecting perfection from yourself, is unreasonable and unachievable. Be OK with making mistakes and be OK with your teammates making them.
    We find it very helpful to look at the meet as a series of one round’s competitions. Whether we are ahead or behind, we go at top speed. We work to not pay attention to the scores and focus solely on personal best each round. The score comes from performing so all your attention should be there. There is no defence in this game and, therefore, nothing you can do beyond to achieve your competition’s performance best. Focus on your own stuff and let the judges decide who won.
    Trust in yourself and your teammates, is a critical ingredient to success. Good trust in the team will save energy and build confidence. Not having to wonder about your teammates, gives you more energy and build confidence. Not having to wonder about your teammates, gives you more energy to spend on yourself. Knowing they will be where they say they will unloads the majority of variables and therefore the majority of worries. Trust is something that must be earned. It is important that during training, everyone practices what he preaches. Say what you mean and do what you say.
    Train to Win. Compete to do your Best.
    Airspeed 4-Way Training Work Book

    ©1998 - Jack Jefferies, Airspeed - All Rights Reserved
    Related Links:

    Airspeed.org
    Tunnelcamp.com
    Mariosantos.com

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Health gymnasiums

    Two other advantages offered by good gymnasium are constant supervision, which enables you to exercise with safety confidence, and a congenial atmosphere. Exercising with people who share common purpose can provide extra enjoyment and incentive.
    It is necessary first of all to distinguish between the different types of gymnasium. Training gymnasium are essentially for athletes and other men and women who wish to develop their skills for particular athletic activities. They provide facilities for athletes to keep themselves for their chosen sports. Health gymnasium provide advice, instruction and facilities for everyone who wishes to become or keep fit, whatever his or her initial physical condition. Their clients range from professional athletes to office workers who wish only to make the best use of their lunch hours.
    Health gymnasium vary widely in quality. When choosing one of yourself, you should check that is staffed by qualified and responsible instructors. You may feel flattered to be attended by a sports celebrity, but professionally trained physiotherapists and physical education instructors can be equally, if not more, beneficial to an unfit person. You should expect to be asked details of your medical history, and to be carefully examined before being allowed to use all the facilities.
    Three types of exercise
    The accessories provided in health gymnasium to help you exercise range form simple wights and benches to more sophisticated equipment such aș pulleys and rowing machine. These accessories are appropriate for different kinds of exercises.
    Isometric exercises, the simple type involve a applying muscular strength by pulling or pushing immovable objects. The muscles are tensed and this tension is sustained for short periods of time. Because little movement is involved in these exercises, they develop static rather than dynamic strength.
    Isotonic exercises involve pulling or lifting an object to certain position and then returning it to its original position. They cause the muscles to contract as you move but, because the weight or force employed is to the same degree throughout the exercise. The weight or force used can only be that which you can lift or pull at the weakest point in the range of motion involved and at other points your muscles are not sufficiently strained to develop in strength.
    The third type of exercise, known as isokinethic, requires more sophisticated equipment. Isokinetic exercises can be designed for particular needs. For example, a person who is training for a particular sport can do exercises that stimulate exactly the demands of this sport, and also developed precisely the muscles he or she most needs.
    Massage
    Facilities for massage may be available at health gymnasium or sauna baths. Massage is used in physical therapy as a means of rehabilitating patients who are suffering from certain physical pain or aliments but, as a mean of getting or keeping fit, its value is very limited.
    Sauna baths
    Sauna baths may be attached to health gymnasium or may exist as separate establishments. Most sauna baths are organized according to similar basic principles, although Finnish sauna baths retain their original national characteristics. They have an invigorating effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect are temporary rather than long-term.
    Sauna baths provide a healthy and enjoyable means of relaxation, but the sudden rise and pulse rate can be dangerous. Pregnant women and people with high or low blood pressure, should therefore avoid them.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Looking for the perfect team

    You might as well be searching for The Holy Grail.
    How often have you heard of a team who's had a big argument and broken up before, during or immediately after Nationals, having already spent an exorbitant amount of money? Most of the time this could have been avoided by simple communication, honesty and a little bit of compromise from the outset. Instead, the 'volcano effect' takes hold, and petty grievances, built up over the course of the year, come to an ugly head, usually at an important and stressful event - like Nationals.
    Quite often the issue that causes the break-up seems pretty minor a couple of months down the line. But it's an all-too-common practice in skydiving, and one that detracts from teams and individuals being able to perform at their best. Most teams require two years minimum to even scratch the surface of their full potential. It takes time for teams to gel to the extent that they have true communication, anticipation and knowledge of working together. But this all-pervasive attitude, which makes it acceptable to break up a team over somewhat insignificant differences, prevents the sport and individual skydivers from growing and progressing.
    It's the syndrome of seeking the 'perfect' team, and it's become so commonplace in skydiving that we could almost be forgiven for thinking it's acceptable.
    What is 'the perfect team'
    Most competitive skydivers have an idea of what the 'perfect' team is. They look at teams like Airspeed, Deland fire and Sinapsi PD, see these teams communicating and performing well, and make the assumption that to some degree, team members are virtual clones of each other. They never see individuals disagreeing or arguing, and believe these must be 'perfect' teams comprised of 'perfect' skydiving
    individuals with 'perfect' personalities. They imagine how great it would be to be part of a team like this, and that their own problems stem from being unable to replicate this perceived 'perfection' in their own teams.Because of this unrealistic expectation, too many talented skydivers waste their time not training with a team at all. There's nothing worse than not training - in fact, some of my steepest learning curves have come from being part of what could be described as 'dysfunctional' teams.
    In a similar way, teams waste time by constantly replacing 'flawed' team members in search of the 'perfect' team dynamic; instead they should be working together, getting over personality differences to achieve a common goal, which is performing at the team best.
    It may come as a shock but - there is no perfect team!
    The truth is that on any team, individuals have their own ideas, flaws and times of stress - and often disagree with their teammates. Our unique qualities and imperfections make us part of this diverse human race, and differences are inevitable. I can't think of a more diverse group of people than Airspeed 8 - our disagreements ranged from how many jumps to do, to physical training and jumpsuit colours (you should see what we finally came up with in 1996)!
    Despite this, I often hear how up-and-coming jumpers idealise the top teams and think they always get along perfectly with each other. The result is that when a disagreement naturally occurs on their own team, they assume it's an inherent and insurmountable fault in the team - and subsequently break up or switch members. Differences like this are to be expected, and are part and parcel of team training, no matter what level you're at.
    A reply I often hear to this is, 'Yeah, but we're not Airspeed,' - implying it's easier to deal with team disagreements and personality conflicts when you're a professional team; if you have to put up with it for 'work', then somehow, you can. But when non-pro teams nowadays are spending between $5,000 and $25,000 per person per year on this sport - it seems like a few minor differences could be worth dealing with for longer than just one season! More to the point - there's really no alternative, if you want to perform, you have to deal!
    It's easy for teams to think their issues are unique, and that problems can't be resolved because of this; however, the case is most likely that the individuals are not willing to work out their 'unique' issues. Usually the problem is nothing more than the result of someone's need to express themselves, and this, in turn, being taken the wrong way. Problems like this could have been resolved months earlier with the input of a good coach, or by using truthful 'pass the rock' sessions where team members get the opportunity to vent and communicate openly.
    Teams need to realise that what they're going through is normal, and conflict is part of a natural evolution for every team. There is not a single team that does not go through conflicts. The difference between a successful team and a failing team is that the former works out their differences, whereas the failing team does not. It's not a matter of individuals being unable to resolve their conflicts - it's simply that they are unwilling to. Airspeed has gone through few big decisions without some pretty heated opinions being cast around the room.
    Because every team goes through the same cycles of development, it's worth outlining what those cycles are, so they know what to expect. One way of looking at how teams grow and mature is to use Bruce Tuckman's 'forming, storming, norming, performing' model.
    Forming - Stage 1

    The 'honeymoon phase'
    When most teams join up, they all seem to get along - everyone is excited about the new team and keen to get started; this is also known as the 'honeymoon phase'. Most skydivers are jubilant that they actually have a team to skydive with, morale is high, and negative personality traits are kept in check. It's very important in the 'forming' stage to get an experienced coach for guidance and direction. Many teams also benefit from having a team leader, and this is the time to appoint them.
    You should also spend quite a bit of time discussing your goals and aspirations as honestly as possible, as this will avoid problems down the line. There could be nothing more frustrating than being in a team where people have completely different agendas - one wants to take the team to the World Meet and another just wants to get the swoop at the end of the dive!
    Levels of commitment in terms of number of jumps, tunnel, money and time should be discussed as a priority, and while not every member of the team will have exactly the same objectives here, as long as they are in the same ballpark the team can succeed. It's important to come to a workable compromise and move on - rejecting a team whose goals don't precisely match yours, and ending up not jumping, is much worse than doing only 200 team jumps that year instead of the 300 you wanted to do!
    Individual long-term goals can even be different - it's fine if one person eventually wants to become a World Champion, and another just wants to compete for a couple of years before moving on to other things - as long as the collective team goal is agreed upon and compatible for the duration of the agreed term of the team. I refer to this as 'buying into the contract'. The key agreements of this 'contract' are:
    Individuals agree to work together to achieve the common goal.
    Individuals agree to communicate honestly with each other, more commonly known as having regular 'pass the rocks'.
    Individuals value their differences, i.e. they recognise that every person has a different background and personality, and will therefore have different ways of relating and behaving.
    Individuals seek to gain insider learning about their impact on the team, i.e. thinking before speaking and recognising that what they say has the potential to impact the team in a negative (or positive) way. Individuals should be responsible and accountable for their actions and words.

    Storming - Stage 2

    Guess what? The honeymoon is over!
    This is the frustrating stage of learning with the team; individual quirks start to come out and team members vie for position as they attempt to establish themselves. Cliques can also start to form within the team - questions and uncertainties come up and the 'contract' itself may be questioned. This is where most teams sow the seeds of inevitable self-destruction.
    Simply put, this is the stage where arguments might occur over block techniques, individual performance and styles of relating. Even table manners, personal hygiene and fashion sense can all come under attack! It's important to realise that this is natural human behaviour in a goal-orientated team environment. It's also important for individuals and the team to reiterate the goals they set and believe that the team outcome is more important than individual needs. At this stage, outside help in the form of a coach experienced in dealing with team dynamics is invaluable.
    I've heard more times than I'd like to recollect, 'I guess I'm just not a team-player'. I don't believe this to be true. That individual is just not willing to compromise, or never bought into the 'contract' in the first place. People who are described as 'team players' are just more willing than others to suppress their need to be heard all the time. I also believe there's no such thing as a natural team player. Anyone has the ability to become a team player as long as they are willing, at times, to put aside their own ego for the good of the team.
    Knowing that the 'storming' stage is normal and can be overcome by focusing and refocusing on the agreed team 'contract' is critical at this time. There's no knowing when the 'storming' will occur, or how long it will last. However the sooner a team recognises it and then accepts it as normal, the sooner the team will leave this phase behind.

    Norming - Stage 3
    Congratulations - you've got further than most teams and are on your way to performing your best!
    This is the phase where the team has recognised individuality as a strength, and has matured as a group. Commitment and unity is strong. It could feel similar to the 'honeymoon phase', but instead of being based on enthusiasm alone, it marks a time of personal growth and acceptance.
    Roles and responsibilities are clear and welcomed: the team's everyday interactions and dealings have become like clockwork, and the daily training routine, including team meetings and 'pass the rock' sessions, is more instinctive and needs no prompting.
    It's important to realise the individuals themselves have not fundamentally changed, and disagreements will still occur - however teammates have come to understand that having their personal needs met is secondary to team growth. The same disagreements teams had in the 'storming' stage suddenly seem less important and are dealt with more quickly and in a more mature manner.

    Performing - Stage 4

    The fun part!
    In this stage the team has a high degree of autonomy and will be running like a well-oiled machine. The team is able to focus on performance; personal issues that would have held them back previously as a distraction have melted into the background and become irrelevant.
    This is also the phase where individual relationships and trust are consolidated within the group. On a personal level, team members trust that each one will always act for the good of the team - communication between piece-partners is open and honest. In the sky, teams feel that everything falls into an instinctual rhythm, more so than a forced or conscious act. Trust in individuals' ability runs high, allowing team members to be sure that others will also fly their slots with confidence. This in turn allows for faster keys, more confident moves, and ultimately, more points.
    Teams should expect that disagreements will still occur - even arguments - but now issues are resolved within the team positively. It's also important to recognise that just because a team has reached the 'performing' stage, they may not be the 'best of friends' - however teammates trust and respect each other, because of the understanding that they are all focused on the common goal, i.e. the 'contract'.
    This phase is more easily attainable than most people think, or believe. It's the most fun part of training, and the pay-offs are numerous. Individual growth, realisation of your potential, a load more points and the best skydiving you'll ever do are just some of them.
    And it's a choice that anyone can make.
    Gary Beyer was a member of multiple World and National Champion team, Arizona Airspeed, between 1995 and 2002. He has since retired from World level competition and dedicates his time to team and tunnel coaching. www.onthelineskydiving.com
    This article was first published in Skydive The Mag (UK) and is republished here on request and with permission from the author.
    Photos by Mike McGowan

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Indoors Outdoors - Translating Between The Tunnel & The Sky (Part 5)

    Part Five: Head Down
    Learning to fly upside down can be tough. Once a student reaches the point at which the coaches and instructors in charge of their progression and safety invite them to start, he or she should be suitably skilled in the other main orientations of flight in order to manage the variables involved in practicing head down with confidence. However, all too often this is not the case - and although things are improving as training methodology evolves and becomes more widely understood - too few students invest as much time as they should in the right foundational skills in their big rush to get to head down.
    The main thrust of these articles is to highlight some of the many ways that various elements of freefly training feed into and stack upon each other to create a deeper understanding of how flying actually works. The process of learning head down is a great example of exactly how many things someone could and should be able to do before they begin with those expensive headstands on the net - in order to make the whole endeavour much smoother, easier, cheaper, and vitally - more fun.
    Safety First!
    On the most basic level, good backflying and sitflying skills will keep you safe while learning head down. The ability to properly control yourself in these positions on high windspeeds is the minimum by which you should be allowed to get started. Even for those us totally devoid of maths, the ability to reset yourself onto the net in just a handful of seconds after needing to bail instead of fifteen or twenty (or more) spent bouncing around the top of the tube is clear to see.
    Investing in your backfly and sitfly early on will save you a great deal of time and money down the road.
    In addition, every bit of progress you make in the other areas of your training feeds directly back into your ability to fly head down. Doing this other stuff is more fun and easier on your body than spending hour after hour on the net.
    How Does Head Up Help?
    Aside from simply being able to safely get in the tube on wind speeds high enough for head down flying, many of the ways you sitfly about the place can be practiced and then switched the other way up as a means of making you brain understand what is going on. The most efficient way to figure out a line or a sequence of moves when you are first learning on your head can be to get it right with some sitfly first where it is easier to maintain awareness and fly with a position in which you are stronger - then flip it over. The way movements are flown from the one orientation to its opposite can be very similar - the space, the lines and the subtleties are very often one and the same.
    How Does Carving Help?
    Carving your way up from low wind speeds on both your belly and back help your head down flying from the very start by helping your brain to recognise the single most important rule to maintaining positional awareness:
    When you go from head up to head down - left is right and right is left.

    Once you have got the hang of static head down, moving around is next. Understanding how carving works and practicing it on low speeds is the way to both good technique and a much quicker mastery of it on high speeds. The best way to frame the process is to think of carving in the tunnel as learning the ability to fly at any angle and velocity as opposed to separating high speed and low speed into two categories. Once you get steep enough, the skill set you need to apply to carving becomes closer to that of head down flying - but the most important thing to understand is the fluidity. The golden moment is when your carving drills and your head down meet in the middle.
    How Do Layouts Help?
    Proper layouts are tough to get right. Frequently people have to do a great many, working through the smallest refinements in technique before nailing them. Training layouts teaches you body many things, but within the context of this article the most prescient value they have for helping with your head down skills is to get your body up over your head and travelling through the axis you need the most control of when flying (or transitioning through) a head down position. Head down is scary at the start - the wind is fast and is hitting your control surfaces from the wrong sides - having some layouts under your belt will help with being relaxed at the idea of your feet being high up and your body low down.
    The thing to remember is that all the pieces matter. While it is entirely possible to learn how to fly head down buy achieving the minimum possible requirements to be allowed to try, and then spend a great deal of time and money hammering away at it the way people used to do all the time - there is now a way that is more fun, less tiring, and that will ultimately give you a stronger skill set, better understanding and more useable tools for skydiving.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Indoors Outdoors - Translating Between The Tunnel & The Sky (Part 2)

    Of all the basic orientations and body positions available, good old sitfly is the one that changes the most between indoor and outdoor flying. If you have done any head up training in a tunnel, your coach will very likely have been hitting you over the head from the very beginning about how you need to use your back more and your arms less. Learning to freefly is about understanding how each and every surface of your body can be presented to the wind in different ways that work together to create lift and drive. Your back is the biggest single surface that you have - and as such knowing how to use it properly and from early on not only makes flying head up easier on every other surface you use, it feeds into many, many other skills.
    Head Up Is Cool
    Just a mere handful of years ago it was much more common that sitfly abilities were seen as another frustrating speed bump on the way to ‘getting head down’ - and as with belly and backfly only the minimum possible understanding and skill development was needed (or tolerated) before you do the ‘proper flying’ that was cool and not lame. In no small part thanks to the macroscopic nature of modern tunnel training people now seem to mostly accept and understand that the path to improving as a flyer is one that embraces good foundational skills that cover all the orientations properly. The ways that programming your body via repetition to understand movement and build both confidence and awareness have such a strong symbiotic relationship that the better you are at one thing, the easier it is to learn another.

     
    Even a well fitting harness might develop space that can hinder your movement  
    Being diligent and thorough with something that is comparatively easy will make the harder thing easier and you will get it much quicker.
    Also, some imaginative people did awesome, progressive things with their feet pointing at the ground and as a result we have learned that doing head up flying is as challenging, rewarding and fun as anything else. With bigway records and complex feetsdown angle flying becoming more and more regular - head up has never been more exciting.
    What About My Parachute?
    Herein lies the difference. Your container assembly is made from a really grippy material and from the ass-end is not so aerodynamic. Also, as often as not, when flying head up your body position will generate a little (or a big) space between your back and your rig, exposing more surfaces to the wind that you need to consider. The sum total of these factors is that your rig hampers your ability to use your back to get about the place, and the balance of how you move shifts over to the other surfaces you have available - your arms and legs. When learning to sitfly a good coach will explain and demonstrate exactly how all the surfaces of your body work together and how to safely manage the difference between indoor and outdoor movement. Once you have learned how to do it, using your back for movement in the tunnel is easy peasy. When you put on a parachute and try the same thing while skydiving you will feel like your rig is trying to anchor you on the spot and you must adapt how you fly accordingly.
    Technical Difficulties
    While the following is true of other positions, a good early example of how developing good technique between the tunnel and sky is with sit. The tunnel is an enclosed space in which you need to generate the correct amount of lift with your body to fly and remain in the right place - whereas In the sky there is no net to worry about so strength and diligence with your body position becomes less important to maintain a position.
    There is stability in speed and it is easier on your body to fly fast.

     
    Understanding how to use your limbs important  
    So, in the sky things feel a little looser and jumps tend to fly a little faster. This is great when applying things you have learned in the tube, as once you remember to be subtle you will have it nailed to the wall - but it is important to be aware that the same adaptation in reverse means it is easy to develop sloppiness and wind up battling with inefficient and tiring technique when you go back inside. The way to avoid this is always consider your body position as part of your pre and post jump process. When running through the plan in your brain, picture yourself flying in a proud, efficient position and break down the movements you are aiming for into each surface you will bring to bear on the wind. Afterwards, include analysis of not only what you did, but of how you did it as part of your personal de-brief. if there is video of the jump go through it frame by frame and deconstruct exactly what is happening with your body and how the changes you make effect your movement.

    By joelstrickland, in Disciplines,

    Indoors Outdoors - Translating Between The Tunnel & The Sky

    Part One: Where Are We Now?

    Bodyflight has undergone significant evolution over the past few years. There are many tunnels now, with many more on the way - and the very best flying from formalised competitions attracts a great deal of attention from the outside world across the various media that we absorb into our brains every day.
    The techniques used to teach flying skills both indoors and outdoors are myriad and complex.
    Whether you are brand new to flying or a bit further down the road, the amount of information you are required to process during a short time in a stressful environment can be a heavy burden.
    Once you fall down the freefly rabbit hole, flying quickly gets very technical, and although many of the concepts are fairly simple to understand during the briefing - remembering and applying them while you are doing it is a different game.
    Indoor flight has taught us how to squeeze every efficiency from our bodies, gradually trimming the fat from the training process to where a lot can be achieved in a relatively short space of time. However, when new to the mysteries of the tube it can be confounding to watch exactly what coaches are asking their students to perform and be left wondering exactly how the various drills and techniques on display are relevant and applicable to one’s skydiving skills.
    The articles that follow are designed to clarify somewhat how tunnel flying and skydiving crossover with each other and address some of the questions people generally have at the beginning of the training process.

     
    Generic Coaching Disclaimer
     
    While it is certainly possible to learn some useful things from articles such as this, there is no substitute for good quality tuition. A coaching fee on top of what you are already paying for tunnel time or jump tickets will likely make things feel extra spendy, but for the amount it costs to employ someone with both the right knowledge and the means to convey it into your head will get you much further than the equivalent cash thrown at just trying to figure things out for yourself.
    Bodyflight is evolving quickly and expanding into every corner of the world. There are lots of coaches and many different opinions out there as to what exactly is the correct way to teach things. After reading this someone may well trot up to you and pontificate about how much of an unbearable ass I am and that what I say doesn’t count for shit all. Different approaches work for different people - and the more sources of information there are available to you the better equipped you can be to winnow the wheat from the chaff. I am writing from the position of eight years as a tunnel professional and have attempted to structure these words in a way that represents that which people most want to pick my brains about.
    Low Speed, High Speed, and the Follow Me Game
    The driving force behind how things have changed is the space available in which to fly. Some years ago tunnels were mostly smaller in diameter. Learning to fly used to be about getting the wind speed up as soon as could be, and that learning moves on lower speeds was a tedium to be rattled through as quickly as possible until you battled your way to head-down flying.
    As a general rule, tunnels then started getting bigger and as a result people began to discover a couple of very important things. The extra space meant that not only was it possible to present bigger, flatter, more efficient body positions to the wind - you could do so with more than one person (crucially - a coach and a student) at the same time.
    At this point, coaching via leading and following around the tunnel was already a thing, but bringing the format forward to the very beginning of the training process meant that a student could learn more things faster. A coach now had the room to quickly demonstrate something next to the student without more than the very minimum of time consumption and fuss, which is of tangible value in a place where very seconds mean monies, but also when leading and following is added into the process the student would then be approaching all the main concepts of getting shit done in the tunnel from day one.
    Following a coach from one position in the tunnel to another and performing structured moves in the same spot that they do engages the key elements of understanding how dynamic flying works. Not only are you practicing the moves themselves, you are learning lines and programming the management of space into your body, coaxing your awareness outwards to the environment you occupy. Good awareness is just as important for safe flying and a healthy learning curve in the tunnel as it is up in the sky.

     
    Low Speed and High Speed Training
     
    An unsophisticated way to think of the difference between low speed flying and high speed flying is as an indoor and outdoor skill set. In the simplest imaginable terms, low speed training teaches you how to fly all pretty in the tube and high speed training is where you learn skills to be better at skydiving. This is pretty reductive as while these things are not untrue, there is so much more value in understanding exactly where, why and how things cross over. The beautiful part is that the symbiosis between the two ways of doing things is so total that end result is greater than the sum of its parts. If bodyflight has put the hooks in you then chances are you desire to be a good flyer in both the sky and the tube - which is where the benefits really start to show. There are differences between the two environments which reveal themselves the more you learn. Adapting you skills from one place to the other takes a minute and does not happen automatically, but lots of what you learn translates from one environment to the other in valuable ways.
    The chapters that follow each represent one of the main orientations in which we fly - broken down into elements where attention is paid to the similarities and differences between indoor and outdoor zooming, and how to approach transitioning concepts and body positions successfully between the two environments.

    By joelstrickland, in Disciplines,

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