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Bkleven7

How to Improve my Skills Without Paying for Coaching?

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I visited Perris for the first time where they have free load organizing and coaching for any discipline you may be trying to improve in. Obviously, coaching can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on a few variables. 

My predicament is, I’m gonna be in Spain for a couple months before I’m back in Southern California. I want to jump a lot out there and get my skills up, but I don’t want to break the bank if I can get a similar service for free when I’m back. 

So how to go about it? I was thinking that I should just ask to get on 2-way/4-way jumps without them specifically being coach jumps. I’m fresh off my A-License and have no experience in 4-way and minimal in 2-way. 

I’ve heard that you want coaching or at least jumping with other people ASAP so you don’t develop bad habits (backsliding, etc) on your own. I’d love to learn to freefly, angle fly, formation fly, what have you, but can’t be spending $1000 on a 10-block of coach jumps, which is the price at some DZ’s in Europe. 

Thanks

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Perris is awesome for beginners with the free organizing.  You will find people at Perris still pay for coaching when you get into 4 way, free flying or wingsuiting.  You can also improve a lot in the tunnel with a coach.  The basics of turning points in the tunnel is the same as in the sky.  Freefly is also good to learn in the tunnel where you can focus and refine skills really quick compared to flailing around in the sky.  Generally, if you are stable in the tunnel doing static head down/up you likely won't be back sliding in the sky(if you are solo its still good to set up perpendicular to jump run though).

Once you get the basics, europe has a lot of cool skills camps that take all skill levels. You will be in small groups where you can get feedback every jump as a group or some one on ones.  Tora Tora puts on a few of these, there is angleweek lite for less experienced angle flying, and probably others.

At your level, just keep jumping and get advice when you can or ask for feedback.  As you start to gain experience and want to branch out into something like angles its best to pay for coaching.  You get the one on one attention and learn it properly.  Skydiving is an expensive sport and if you want to be good then coaching becomes one of those expenses.  

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Show up, ask at the front desk if there's anyone looking to jump with other newbies. It might be a newbie, and it might be an old fart who likes jumping with newbies. Slow days increase your chance of jumping with the same person twice is more likely, and doing that will really make it easier for you to figure out what you're doing, so that you can either do more or less of it. But slow days decrease your chance of having someone at all -- ask at the front desk if there are people whom you normally should be looking for. Be honest that you can't afford to pay for coaching right now. And if you can afford to stay at the end of the day, do so, listen, and feel free to contribute beer if it's needed.

There's no guarantees, but it beats nothing.

Wendy P. (old fart who likes jumping with newbies)

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13 hours ago, kat00 said:

.  Skydiving is an expensive sport and if you want to be good then coaching becomes one of those expenses.   

You absolutely do not need to spend a dime for coaching to learn. You can become a skilled skydiver without spending a cent on coaching. A lot of the coaches one would pay are just skydivers who were on the loads anyway. So instead of spending $600 a day plus, just wait until they are not busy, ask them if they want to jump and offer some beers. Same end result but no money spent. You can jump with 'coaches' for free if you just hang around the DZ long enough, show some respect and put your time in. That's a main premise of the Perris LO program, more or less.

That said, if you have lots of cash and limited time, coaching can shortcut your skills, but dont think that without high-dollar paid coaching there is no way to learn those skills. You can and will learn them regardless of whether you pay for coaching or not, it's just that it takes more time and effort if you dont open your wallet.
 

Edited by 20kN

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1 hour ago, 20kN said:

That said, if you have lots of cash and limited time, coaching can shortcut your skills, but dont think that without high-dollar paid coaching there is no way to learn those skills. You can and will learn them regardless of whether you pay for coaching or not, it's just that it takes more time and effort if you dont open your wallet.

All it takes are the three As. Aptitude, which is pretty easy for basic skydiving. Attitude, which is required for both safety and learning. And Availability, which means enough time and money.

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As a Load Organizer, I'll point out that what you get from a LO is pretty different from a coach.  LO's will try and give feedback, provide tips, and help, for sure, but if you want to speed up your learning, a coach will focus on you and provide a lot more feedback geared towards your goals. When I'm LOing, I have 2 to 10 (sometimes 30) people jumping with me and my goal is not 1/1 coaching. But, show up early, when no one else is around, and you might get 1/1 or 1/2 LOing, for 1 or 2 jumps.

Look for free events: SDAZ has 4way days where an experienced 4way team will split up and do 1/3 with the same group for the day or weekend for free. I think Perris has something similar. I cannot emphasize how much this will help you in ANY discipline in skydiving.

Show up weekdays when DZ have weekdays LOs (and early helps too). We're often much slower and will be able to do smaller jumps with more feedback.

 

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On 10/30/2019 at 11:57 AM, Bkleven7 said:

I’d love to learn to freefly, angle fly, formation fly, what have you

The one thing I would say: Depending on the culture at your DZ in Spain, you should be able to get on some good belly jumps with more experienced jumpers, where you can definitely learn something. At my DZ, many moderately experienced jumpers (300+ jumps) are happy to jump with beginners, as long as they feel you are safe, because it can be quite fun and definitely beats jumping alone, when we're not there with a group or team. Some are even coaches and are happy to jump with you (either for free, or may ask you to just pay for their jump ticket)
As far as freeflying goes: I can't imagine getting even half decent at freeflying, unless you pay for some coached time at the tunnel (a few hours at least.) Well, you could put up a tent at the DZ and jump every single day, all day long--and you'd still need someone to teach you or at least fly relative to you. In my experience, to really learn how to freefly without serious tunnel time would be VERY challenging.
As for angle flying: No matter if you pay or find someone who does it for free, this discipline can be very dangerous if you don't start it the right way. Start with very small groups 2-3 max. Resist going on jumps with others at your skill level for quite a while. 2 people who don't know what they are doing, in the same group makes it really easy to have some serious collisions.
Lastly: As a passionate belly-flyer (who also likes freeflying, tracking/angle, etc.--but knows he isn't any good at that yet) I want to say: Take some time to become proficient at belly flying. Be able to dive to a formation and approach it safely. Be able to nail some linked exits. Be able to stay close and on level with a group. Then go ahead and do all the other crazy jumps you want to do. Don't become one of those jumpers who calls himself a freeflier, has over 400 jumps and, when going on a "hybrid jump" with a couple belly fliers, just tumbles out of the airplane, falls below the group or right on top of them, and makes everyone wonder: "What did you do for your last 400 jumps???"

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At my home dz, Elsinore, we have a program for exactly what you are seeking. It is a program called "Excel" camp. The purpose is to build skills for a solid foundation of basic RW skills, whether you just got your license or have 500+ jumps. It is FREE coaching. You only pay for your jumps. You learn proper techniques, how to dirt dive, 99 percent of the time the coaches shoot video for a proper debrief. There is no rushing. It is best to sign up at least a week in advance so we know how many coaches to have in order to keep the ratio of coach to student and the groups at a size best for learning and safety. It is usually on week end day a month. You can find the scheduled days on the Elsinore web site or on FB. 

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On 10/31/2019 at 4:41 PM, 20kN said:

You absolutely do not need to spend a dime for coaching to learn. You can become a skilled skydiver without spending a cent on coaching. A lot of the coaches one would pay are just skydivers who were on the loads anyway. So instead of spending $600 a day plus, just wait until they are not busy, ask them if they want to jump and offer some beers. Same end result but no money spent. You can jump with 'coaches' for free if you just hang around the DZ long enough, show some respect and put your time in. That's a main premise of the Perris LO program, more or less.

Damn dude, do you kick skydiving coaches in the balls when you see them in person too?

The cheapest and fastest way to get good at any discipline is to get coaching. It feels more expensive at the start, but it's not. In the long run you'll get where you're trying to go in far fewer jumps and having spent less money. The same is true for tunnel time.

Your strategy of, "wait until a coach isn't working and then try to leech some information/coaching/jumps out of them in exchange for a $5 beer" is insulting...at best. At worst...it's damn near theft.

A lot of good people make a living by helping other skydivers become better. I'm sure they don't appreciate you telling people that their services aren't valuable, and that the best course of action is to try and undermine their livelihood.

Coaches are valuable, and important, and worth it. Their services are valuable, and should be respected as such. Jumping with an LO is NOT the same as working one-on-one with a dedicated coach.

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Primacy in learning is key. In my experience, the skydivers who get quality coaching early (there are shit coaches) are better off long term because they are taught solid foundations early on, and don't develop bad habits. Just my opinion.

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I have seen free coaching offered at DZs. it was meant to assist the young grasshopper, bit it consisted of using swoop cords, the boxman, and hugging the beach ball if you go low. Great stuff, back in the day. Surprised they didn't throw in balloon suits. Good, quality coaching is worth it. Consider getting on/starting a 4-way team and split the cost. It does make you better. 

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14 hours ago, Bluhdow said:

Your strategy of, "wait until a coach isn't working and then try to leech some information/coaching/jumps out of them in exchange for a $5 beer" is insulting...at best. At worst...it's damn near theft.

I guess that depends on the motivation of the coach/instructor.  My husband is a USPA AFF IE and coach examiner and a Master Rigger with a shit ton of experience.  He is happy to talk with, advise, pass on useful information to anyone... for nothing. A beer is a nice offering but not required. He doesn't need to be paid to share what he knows with others. It's not about his pocketbook,  it's about helping people become better, safer and more knowledgeable skydivers. Not to mention that it makes newbies feel like they are a part of the dz and not a wallet to empty.

I know I'm a dinosaur, but I think It's pretty sad that jumpers now expect to be paid to talk to newbies.

 

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2 hours ago, skybytch said:

I guess that depends on the motivation of the coach/instructor.  My husband is a USPA AFF IE and coach examiner and a Master Rigger with a shit ton of experience.  He is happy to talk with, advise, pass on useful information to anyone... for nothing. A beer is a nice offering but not required. He doesn't need to be paid to share what he knows with others. It's not about his pocketbook,  it's about helping people become better, safer and more knowledgeable skydivers. Not to mention that it makes newbies feel like they are a part of the dz and not a wallet to empty.

I know I'm a dinosaur, but I think It's pretty sad that jumpers now expect to be paid to talk to newbies.

 

That's nice, and I'm sure he's a great resource for newer jumpers. But buying an experienced jumper (who doesn't coach for income) a beer in exchange for some advice is very different than what was described above. Scheming a way to get free coaching from an instructor who rightfully charges for their services is poor form, in my opinion. 

It's not that coaches need to be paid to talk to new jumpers, at all. In fact, most coaches I know are open to befriending newbies as it's a good way to network and earn potential future coaching work. That said, there is a line that most professional (paid) coaches will draw between what qualifies as offering a free safety tip, and what should really fall under the banner of "paid coaching services." I think a calculated attempt to cross that line to take advantage of a coach is poor form.

I am not a coach. And I don't plan to be. But I found the spirit of the aforementioned post to be in...you guessed it...poor form.

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21 hours ago, Bluhdow said:

Damn dude, do you kick skydiving coaches in the balls when you see them in person too?

The cheapest and fastest way to get good at any discipline is to get coaching. It feels more expensive at the start, but it's not. In the long run you'll get where you're trying to go in far fewer jumps and having spent less money. The same is true for tunnel time.

Your strategy of, "wait until a coach isn't working and then try to leech some information/coaching/jumps out of them in exchange for a $5 beer" is insulting...at best. At worst...it's damn near theft.

A lot of good people make a living by helping other skydivers become better. I'm sure they don't appreciate you telling people that their services aren't valuable, and that the best course of action is to try and undermine their livelihood.

Coaches are valuable, and important, and worth it. Their services are valuable, and should be respected as such. Jumping with an LO is NOT the same as working one-on-one with a dedicated coach.

I get where this is coming from, but there are a lot of the old guard who despise how monetized skydiving has become.  What you're advocating is to never teach anybody anything for free.  Not necessarily an evil idea, just a different ideology and one that not everyone is going to share.  I'm new to the sport, and I'm looking to obtain both my C license and a coach rating before the end of next season.  While I fully intend to use my coach rating to help others get current, and to teach basic belly skills, I have no desire to monetize that rating in any way.  That would put me at odds with you though, because I'm also metaphorically kicking you in the balls by not being part of the union-style mentality you're advocating.  This sport is supposed to be fun, not a financially crippling money racket. 

If your coaching is superior, then the free market can decide.  People will be lining up behind each other to get a piece of your knowledge.  If not, they'll take the Skydivers over Sixty guy who just wants to spread the joy and knowledge of the sport in exchange for some companionship and a few beers before he can't jump anymore.

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18 minutes ago, yobnoc said:

I get where this is coming from, but there are a lot of the old guard who despise how monetized skydiving has become.  What you're advocating is to never teach anybody anything for free.  Not necessarily an evil idea, just a different ideology and one that not everyone is going to share.  I'm new to the sport, and I'm looking to obtain both my C license and a coach rating before the end of next season.  While I fully intend to use my coach rating to help others get current, and to teach basic belly skills, I have no desire to monetize that rating in any way.  That would put me at odds with you though, because I'm also metaphorically kicking you in the balls by not being part of the union-style mentality you're advocating.  This sport is supposed to be fun, not a financially crippling money racket. 

If your coaching is superior, then the free market can decide.  People will be lining up behind each other to get a piece of your knowledge.  If not, they'll take the Skydivers over Sixty guy who just wants to spread the joy and knowledge of the sport in exchange for some companionship and a few beers before he can't jump anymore.

Eh...you put a lot of words in my mouth (or ideology in my mind, rather). 

I'm not saying don't teach anyone for free, or that everything should be paid. Never said that, never would.

I'm saying that if someone is asking to be paid, and you're trying to not pay them and still receive the service, that's pretty uncool. That hardly seems like a controversial stance to take.

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18 minutes ago, Bluhdow said:

Eh...you put a lot of words in my mouth (or ideology in my mind, rather). 

I'm not saying don't teach anyone for free, or that everything should be paid. Never said that, never would.

I'm saying that if someone is asking to be paid, and you're trying to not pay them and still receive the service, that's pretty uncool. That hardly seems like a controversial stance to take.

I understand where you're coming from.  I do.  I also was under the impression that you were a coach until I read up in the thread to a previous post.  The only reason I find this opinion to be objectionable is that newcomers to the drop zone looking for their A license or freshly licensed jumpers can often be taken advantage of with regard to coaching costs.  Once someone has a feel for how things go at the DZ, they learn who's worth getting paid lessons from and who's just in it for the money but doesn't have the requisite skillset to warrant the charge.  To me, that's predatory and stands as a barrier to expansion of the sport.  Bet your ass there's coaches who I would gladly pay for skillset advancement now that I've found my stride and expanded my network.  But when I was seeking that A license or the first two dozen jumps after that, it was just as helpful for what I needed to know at the time to just get the coaching from someone who wasn't charging.  Trust that I do understand your position, and even agree somewhat.

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14 hours ago, Bluhdow said:

That's nice, and I'm sure he's a great resource for newer jumpers. But buying an experienced jumper (who doesn't coach for income) a beer in exchange for some advice is very different than what was described above. Scheming a way to get free coaching from an instructor who rightfully charges for their services is poor form, in my opinion. 

It's not that coaches need to be paid to talk to new jumpers, at all. In fact, most coaches I know are open to befriending newbies as it's a good way to network and earn potential future coaching work. That said, there is a line that most professional (paid) coaches will draw between what qualifies as offering a free safety tip, and what should really fall under the banner of "paid coaching services." I think a calculated attempt to cross that line to take advantage of a coach is poor form.

I am not a coach. And I don't plan to be. But I found the spirit of the aforementioned post to be in...you guessed it...poor form.

I am not really sure how you went from “how do I get on jumps with other people that will help me improve my skills” to “how do I get coaches to jump with me for free.”

I don’t know of a single coach or instructor who thinks of information alone (i.e. talking about something on the ground while they’re either waiting for the load they’re on or while drinking beer at the end of the day) as a commodity only to be given in exchange for cold hard cash. That’s not the nature of this sport; if I ended up at a dz where this was how it was I’d leave and find somewhere else to jump. 

Jumps are a different story, because they cost time and money, but again, I don’t think the OP was asking about how to get a coach to do a bunch of jumps with him for free so he could work on specific things.

I’m also not a coach (yet), but I’m happy to do two-ways (or three-ways) with freshly A-licensed jumpers, video them, etc. People jumped with me when I was at that point, so I try to give back where I can.

To echo the other answers to the OP’s question: at any given weekend at most big drop zones there will be plenty of skydivers with a range of experience and abilities; you’ll probably find people to jump with if you ask! Even if someone has other stuff going on, they might be able to point you in the direction of some other new jumpers that you can do a two or three way belly jump with.

 

Edited by Orthoclase

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10 hours ago, Orthoclase said:

I am not really sure how you went from “how do I get on jumps with other people that will help me improve my skills” to “how do I get coaches to jump with me for free.”

 

If you read the thread, you will see that someone suggested doing exactly that. This person is who I was replying to, not the OP.

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After coming back from a 25-year break one of the big differences I see is the skill level required.  30 years ago there was only belly flying, so you could easily get to a reasonable level just jumping with experienced skydivers for free, which is what everybody did.  And that was enough to really enjoy yourself and jump with everyone on the DZ.  Why people wanted to complicate everything by inventing free flying, I'll never understand.

Now if you want to jump with everyone else you have to free fly and spend God knows how much time in a tunnel.  At some point you will get fed-up of jumping by yourself, trying to figure it out and spending $$$ per jump and getting no better at it.  It is at this point you decide it is cheaper to pay for coaching either in the sky or at your local tunnel.

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The main reason Elsinore started the "Excell" program was jumper retention,specially in RW, and the bad ass person who went to management with this idea(Melanie Curtis) wanted to give back to the sport and her discipline. It was also to help young jumpers gain much needed skills, with out breaking the bank. There is a difference between someone who is just a weekend fun jumper wanting to improve their skills in order to be safe, and have a basic understanding and foundation to be able to hold their own in a random fun jump at any DZ with the LO for the day, vs a jumper with a goal to gain basic skills and more in order to consider getting on a 4 wy team, which then requires more specific "coaching" and is usually with the rest of your teammates and the cost is split.among the team. Coaching for a team is intense and time consuming, and the coach, has spent a considerable amount of time and money obtaining the knowledge and skills that they are passing on, and most of the time it is part of their income. 

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On 11/8/2019 at 11:09 PM, tikl68 said:

Coaching for a team is intense and time consuming, and the coach, has spent a considerable amount of time and money obtaining the knowledge and skills that they are passing on, and most of the time it is part of their income. 

I find that there are 2 different types of coaches and prices/business models connected to them:

1. USPA coaches, who, at least at the DZs I know, mostly work with new jumpers. At my home DZ you are actually required to jump with a coach after your AFF is complete, and before you have your A-License. You pay the DZ for these jumps and the coaches get paid by the DZ.
These are people with a USPA coach rating, and they may have as few as 200 jumps (or many more). There are generally 2 reasons these coaches do what they do:
a) They just like teaching and find it interesting to jump with newbies and challenge their skills that way, and they like being able to do some jumps and get paid a little.
b) They want to get an AFF Instructor rating and become a professional skydiver, and this is a great way to get their jump numbers up quickly (which they need for the instructor rating) and make a little money on the side while doing lots of skydiving.
These kinds of coaches may do some personal coached jumps that you pay them directly for, but at my DZ that is actually quite rare. They certainly don't rely on that for their primary income. (And since jump-numbers and skill levels vary greatly, you'd want to know a bit more about that specific coach, other than that they have a coach rating)

2. Coaches, who get paid to coach competitive skydiving teams (4-way, 8-way, VFS, etc). They are usually competitive skydivers themselves. They MAY have ratings (USPA-coach, Instructor, etc) but they may NOT have any official USPA ratings at all. Nevertheless they are usually VERY MUCH worth their fees, as their experience comes from their own participation in competitive skydiving. They may coach in the air, in the tunnel, or (most likely) both. They set their own rates and, as much as I can tell, usually charge more than a regular USPA coach would charge to jump with you at the DZ. Their coaching also includes much more than just the jumps (and they may not jump with you at all, but coach on the ground and do video reviews, etc.)--and sometimes you can get some time/advice from them for free. Count yourself extra-lucky, if you do--and show your gratitude however you can (at a minimum, with your attitude towards them! xD)

Everything else, I have found so far (and at my level and in my locality,) you CAN get without paying for in hard cash--and I don't think that is a problem for either category of coaches--and it makes our sport a welcoming place for anyone wanting to learn more (and builds new friendships as a side benefit.)

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10 hours ago, mbohu said:

I find that there are 2 different types of coaches and prices/business models connected to them:

1. USPA coaches, who, at least at the DZs I know, mostly work with new jumpers. At my home DZ you are actually required to jump with a coach after your AFF is complete, and before you have your A-License. You pay the DZ for these jumps and the coaches get paid by the DZ.
These are people with a USPA coach rating, and they may have as few as 200 jumps (or many more). There are generally 2 reasons these coaches do what they do:
a) They just like teaching and find it interesting to jump with newbies and challenge their skills that way, and they like being able to do some jumps and get paid a little.
b) They want to get an AFF Instructor rating and become a professional skydiver, and this is a great way to get their jump numbers up quickly (which they need for the instructor rating) and make a little money on the side while doing lots of skydiving.
These kinds of coaches may do some personal coached jumps that you pay them directly for, but at my DZ that is actually quite rare. They certainly don't rely on that for their primary income. (And since jump-numbers and skill levels vary greatly, you'd want to know a bit more about that specific coach, other than that they have a coach rating)

2. Coaches, who get paid to coach competitive skydiving teams (4-way, 8-way, VFS, etc). They are usually competitive skydivers themselves. They MAY have ratings (USPA-coach, Instructor, etc) but they may NOT have any official USPA ratings at all. Nevertheless they are usually VERY MUCH worth their fees, as their experience comes from their own participation in competitive skydiving. They may coach in the air, in the tunnel, or (most likely) both. They set their own rates and, as much as I can tell, usually charge more than a regular USPA coach would charge to jump with you at the DZ. Their coaching also includes much more than just the jumps (and they may not jump with you at all, but coach on the ground and do video reviews, etc.)--and sometimes you can get some time/advice from them for free. Count yourself extra-lucky, if you do--and show your gratitude however you can (at a minimum, with your attitude towards them! xD)

Everything else, I have found so far (and at my level and in my locality,) you CAN get without paying for in hard cash--and I don't think that is a problem for either category of coaches--and it makes our sport a welcoming place for anyone wanting to learn more (and builds new friendships as a side benefit.)

Yes that is true. I also have my coach rating, and it is to give back to the sport. I have a Mon-Fri. gig that pays my bills so I dont do it for the money. I waited til I had about 400 jumps before I got my coach rating. I wanted to make sure I was solid. My first 2 years/250 jumps back in the sport, I only jumped on weekends "Excell" camp was happening. One year in to "Excell" camp I was asked to be the coaches asst. when they had a big turn out as far as participants. One year later I became a regular coach in the camp in 2007. We have had a lot of success over the years. Some of the participants have become coaches, and some have gone on to win metals at Nationals on teams. It is the best money you will NEVER spend.

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