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smoothflyin

Coach Course

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Been lurking around for awhile and just getting a feel for how things work around here. Tried searching "Coach" and "Coach Course" and the most recent posts were in 04 that I saw.

So If I've missed something and am asking about something that has been answered a few thousand times, please have mercy on the FNG. :)

Have about 150 jumps or so, and am a flight instructor / pilot examiner turned corporate pilot. I love the corporate flying but really miss the instructional aspect of flight instructing.

I am thinking pretty seriously about attending a coach course sometime in the next few months and would just like to get an idea of what to expect. I know what is required to be covered, but just wanted to get some of your first hand experiences, what it was like for you going through it, what to do, and what not to do, things to look out for etc.


Appreciate it...

Blue Skies

:)

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I completed my coach course approx 1 month ago. 2 days of classroom and ground school. Most of that time was spent learning basic teaching theory, and the different ways people learn. Also a significant amount of time was given to proper format for teaching ground prep, gearing up, aircraft procedures, skydive, and debrief. Day 3, is practical in air evals. Minimum of two. Evaluator pretends to be a Cat G, or Cat H, student from ground prep through debrief.

Things to watch out for: Your instructor/evaluator WILL make mistakes intentionally. Some of the mistakes my evaluator made were: Altimeter on wrong wrist during gear up, wandering away in loading area, tumbling on exit, backsliding when taking docks, blowing through breakoff altitude, and instead of flying a standard pattern, swooping. (Ok, that last one was allowed, but it was fun to hear a "13" jump wonder tell me about initiating his 270 at 750 feet.:D:D

I was very nervous going in, not because of the teaching side, but the flying side. I blew it on my first eval dive, Nailed the next two. Where are you thinking about going for your course?
What you say is reflective of your knowledge...HOW ya say it is reflective of your experience. Airtwardo

Someone's going to be spanked! Hopefully, it will be me. Skymama

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Just did my coach rating last summer. Be prepared to spend a lot of time working on ground prep, and being evaluated on the quality of your ground prep. If you get the Instructional Rating Manual (IRM) ahead of time, the material on the coach course will give you a good idea of what to expect in the course. You can order them from USPA, borrow one from a friend (make sure it's a fairly recent version), or possibly buy one from a nearby DZ or gear store (which may be a better deal since it saves you shipping from USPA).

It's a lot of fun and a lot of work. My class was Friday evening, all day Saturday, and much of the day on Sunday. How long it takes will depend partly on how many people are in the class and how many people are helping the IE do the class. In my course we did sections of the first jump course and ground prep for two different jumps (teaching other people in the class) and two in-air evaluations (teaching either the course director or another evaluator).

It's a fun course, and I learned a lot about teaching and teaching methodology.
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke

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Hi Jim,

Skydive U was my first choice actually, my home drop zone was deland for my first few years in the sport, and i got to jump with a few of the "off duty" coaches while they were fun jumpin:) but with the new job I am now up in Pennsylvania, which makes it difficult to get down there for an extended period of time. Was thinking about a course coming up in june at START skydiving in ohio (about a 6 hour drive or so)

Also it is a 2 day course vs. 3 day. I obviously don't want to cut out any necessary material, but if it is a choice between being there 5 hours a day for 3 days or 7.5 hours a day for 2 days, It would be better for my work situation not to have to take time off.

Although at skydiveU i would be able to see a lot of old friends:) decision decisions,.

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What to do;
Be prepared ahead of time. Get a new SIM and an IRM. Take the test and recheck your answers (it's open book anyway, so why not have it done before the class). Put together basic lesson plans for every topic. Try to utilize the teaching techniques, as outlined in the IRM, and use them as a criteria to look at and develope your lesson plans. Know the material before you get there. Practice recalling everything that went on right after your skydives, even maybe writing down a play-by-play, even is it's only a 2-way (this will help you get into the "recall mode").

What not to do;
Don't try to teach a complete skydiving course in each lesson. You have 15 minutes, so cover the pertenent material only. Most candidates forget the assumption that this lesson is only a part of the students total training and try to squeeze in way to much other material.
Don't blow the hard-deck (instant fail, everyone know this, but usually about 1/3 of my candidates do it anyway)
don't brain-lock, the Coach course is an intense 3 days. When you start to get fried, like we tell students, take a deep breath, exhale slowly, then go on.
If you want to PM me, I'll send you the stuff I send out to my candidates prior to the course to help them prepare.
This is the paradox of skydiving. We do something very dangerous, expose ourselves to a totally unnecesary risk, and then spend our time trying to make it safer.

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The ground prep/teaching is important. But another equally important part of coaching is being aware/observant on the ground and in the air. Then being able to provide a debrief for the student that allows for improvement. Trying to do a debrief for the first time as part of the coach course can be nerve racking. Coaches need to be able to remember what happened and when, then be able to tell the student what actually happened. A real student often doesn't know or thinks it went great. A coach examiner will know exactly what they did and when. Did the "student" achieve the TLOs, did they maintain altitude awareness, what did they well and what can they improve on? Practicing before the course is a big help. One way to do this is by lurking a small(2-3 way) RW jump, including the dirt dive. Preferably one with low time jumpers. Make sure you dirt dive the break off so everyone knows where you will be. Then lurk the dive and watch for if it went as planned. All the while maintaining altitude awareness. If it didn't, what happened and what would you suggest for improvement. It is a skill that takes practice.

Another skill that takes lots of practice is the language used in training/debriefs. Under times of stress, we hope the student will revert back to training. But under times of stress, we also seem to filter out the "don't"s, "never"s and "not"s. As such, always give instruction and debriefs by highlighting what the student should do rather than what they shouldn't, never or not do. I have heard many stories of there being a single tree in a large landing area and how many students have landed in said tree. Willing to bet direction was given as "Don't land in the tree" or "don't focus on the tree". Student gets close to the tree, stresses, focuses on the tree and steers straight towards and lands in it. Verses direction of "if near the tree, wind sock, etc, stay calm and look at & steer towards the open part of the field".

I was surprised at how long it took me to break that habit.
50 donations so far. Give it a try.

You know you want to spank it
Jump an Infinity

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The ground prep/teaching is important. But another equally important part of coaching is being aware/observant on the ground and in the air. Then being able to provide a debrief for the student that allows for improvement. Trying to do a debrief for the first time as part of the coach course can be nerve racking. Coaches need to be able to remember what happened and when, then be able to tell the student what actually happened. A real student often doesn't know or thinks it went great. A coach examiner will know exactly what they did and when. Did the "student" achieve the TLOs, did they maintain altitude awareness, what did they well and what can they improve on? Practicing before the course is a big help. One way to do this is by lurking a small(2-3 way) RW jump, including the dirt dive. Preferably one with low time jumpers. Make sure you dirt dive the break off so everyone knows where you will be. Then lurk the dive and watch for if it went as planned. All the while maintaining altitude awareness. If it didn't, what happened and what would you suggest for improvement. It is a skill that takes practice.

Another skill that takes lots of practice is the language used in training/debriefs. Under times of stress, we hope the student will revert back to training. But under times of stress, we also seem to filter out the "don't"s, "never"s and "not"s. As such, always give instruction and debriefs by highlighting what the student should do rather than what they shouldn't, never or not do. I have heard many stories of there being a single tree in a large landing area and how many students have landed in said tree. Willing to bet direction was given as "Don't land in the tree" or "don't focus on the tree". Student gets close to the tree, stresses, focuses on the tree and steers straight towards and lands in it. Verses direction of "if near the tree, wind sock, etc, stay calm and look at & steer towards the open part of the field".

I was surprised at how long it took me to break that habit.



Worth repeating. Excellent description and explanation, Sean.

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Have about 150 jumps or so, and am a flight instructor / pilot examiner turned corporate pilot. I love the corporate flying but really miss the instructional aspect of flight instructing.


With your background, it will be a breeze, and it is a lot of fun if you like instructing.
For me, from my first jump I wanted to be an AFF instructor because I love instructing.
I believe the most important aspect is the ground training, preparing students not for only the next student jump, but to build a solid foundation of safe practices that will be with them for years. And of course, when shit goes bad in the air, you gotta be able to take care of business and a good debrief often times includes more ground training.
If you are in Texas anytime soon, DJ Marvin is one of the best I have seen in training the trainers, he is a Skydive Spaceland.

There is no substitute for experience, so get started – you will love it…
Mykel AFF-I10
Skydiving Priorities: 1) Open Canopy. 2) Land Safely. 3) Don’t hurt anyone. 4) Repeat…

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If you are in Texas anytime soon, DJ Marvin is one of the best I have seen in training the trainers, he is a Skydive Spaceland.



Even if you're not in Texas, its worth the vacation time and travel to go work with DJ to get your ratings!
--"When I die, may I be surrounded by scattered chrome and burning gasoline."

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If you are in Texas anytime soon, DJ Marvin is one of the best I have seen in training the trainers, he is a Skydive Spaceland.



Even if you're not in Texas, its worth the vacation time and travel to go work with DJ to get your ratings!

+1
Mykel AFF-I10
Skydiving Priorities: 1) Open Canopy. 2) Land Safely. 3) Don’t hurt anyone. 4) Repeat…

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My biggest coaching challenge followed my rating course. I have found that dealing with differing fall rates has been challenging. A season of jumping on a 4 way flatflying team before becoming a coach had really spoiled me with regard to fall rate matching.

I am learning better how to dress myself and the student for success. This topic was not covered in any of the written or oral material during the coach course.
The choices we make have consequences, for us & for others!

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I am learning better how to dress myself and the student for success. This topic was not covered in any of the written or oral material during the coach course.



That's disappointing. That was one of the points covered in our class, and the "students" each offered up options for what they could wear for their eval jumps to give us practice in choosing an appropriate jumpsuit to best match fall rates.
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke

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Thanks everyone, really appreciate the responses!...ufk i send you an PM about that information and would love to give it a read....

So just to confirm, the consensus would be SkydiveU if at all possible? I was thinking more about it, and I would be able to stay with friends there, so the cost of the course would probably actually be less than doing it locally and having to pay for a hotel.....

And get to visit home for a bit:)

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So just to confirm, the consensus would be SkydiveU if at all possible? I was thinking more about it, and I would be able to stay with friends there, so the cost of the course would probably actually be less than doing it locally and having to pay for a hotel..


Spaceland has an incredible facility, the bunk room is brand new (and cheap), the facilities are complete with a laundrymats and more, best of all is the airplanes are maintained to the highest extent, and DJ is, lets put it this way, if an instructor were to train my own mother, I would hope that DJ was the trainers trainer. He has my full admiration from a first hand perspective.
But Skydive U or an alternate training course is less than your ability to seek the best and to put forth your best to improve yourself above the rest.
So which ever path you choose, be the best in every aspect of instructing.

Good travels my friend, and make your own luck…
Mykel AFF-I10
Skydiving Priorities: 1) Open Canopy. 2) Land Safely. 3) Don’t hurt anyone. 4) Repeat…

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Not necessarily. SkydiveU is a great program, but it depends on the course director, not just the program. I earned, (and I mean earned) my coach rating with DJ Marvin at Skydive Spaceland,(not a SDU C/E) and I would recommend him to anyone wanting to be challenged. If you get the right C/E (SDU or not), I guarantee you'll be challenged. Wherever you go, go prepared, with the desire to be a sponge and learn every thing you can. B|
What you say is reflective of your knowledge...HOW ya say it is reflective of your experience. Airtwardo

Someone's going to be spanked! Hopefully, it will be me. Skymama

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I did mine with Bram, Ellie & Nathan down in Zhills. Great course, good people. :)
If you've done a fair bit of belly work and have good fall rate control I don't think you'll have issues with the flying. You do need to be able to stand in front of people & teach but that doesn't sound like it'd be an issue for you. ;)

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"... I would be able to stay with friends there, so the cost of the course would probably actually be less than doing it locally and having to pay for a hotel.....

"

.......................................................................

Just remember to sneak off early for a good night's sleep.

It was funny - a few years back - a Coach Course candidate stayed up all Saturday night, (playing poker) then wondered why he brain-locked while writing lesson plans Sunday morning!
Hah!
Hah!

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I took my coach coarse in Septeber last year with Linda at the Ranch. I understand that that was her first time teaching the course but in my opinion she did an awesome job of it. She is an excellent instructor, I did all my AFF jumps with her. The way she structured the course was a lot of fun and very involved. I do not know how others teach it, but I have taken enough professional courses to know when it is a successful one. Linda just had another one last weekend. But i udnerstand she can teach it anytime as long as there are at least 3 people who sign up for it. It might be worth asking around on your DZ, if you get a decent group of people Linda will probably come to you. See here for details
http://ranchrookie.com/
there is a link to coach course info on the right side of the page.

The best part about this course is not only that you will earn a coach rating, but that you learn things about yourself. You get to take a point of view outside of your normal skydiving perspective. I think its very helpful to anyone, even if they do not make a single coach jump ever.
Good luck.

"never be too cool for school" ;)
- It's okay to be happy to see me. Just because you're English doesn't mean you need to hide your emotions.
- I'm Irish. We let people know how we feel. Now fuck off.

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Did I do one of your ground Evals haha!? Love the flow of this post. I've worked with DJ Marvin for almost 10 years and Jay Stokes for the same. I gained my AFF rating from Jay and have working with DJ for 10, however he continued to go the distance and gather all the required experience to become the next best I/E: Course Director. You will not be overlooked by money or other junk if you come to Spaceland. We have lots of SUPER Otters and 2 new Skyvans plus 2 Caravans! Come on out and lets get things moving already! Its quick, easy, and flexible a schedule to get you started!

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My biggest issue was getting past the fact that the person I was "teaching" did more jumps in the past 6 months than I'd done in my life. Which made me nervous, and caused me to stumble with my words a little for fear that I'd miss something or say somethign the wrong way.

I feel like it's a lot easier to teach an actual student, than an instructor examiner who's miles ahead of you in reality.

As far as the material, it's all stuff you already know, you pretty much just learn how to teach it.

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