Criticism from a teammate

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We just got our 4-way RW team together. Have only jumped a couple times with everyone there. Before forming the team I did a lot of jumps with one of my teammates. The jumps all went well, and he would give me a big hug and tell me how excited he was with our jumps. Then we formed the team and the jumps weren't going real well (according to our coach that is to be expected for a first time team). But this teammate who was praising me before, was now making me feel like it was my fault the skydives weren't going well. I expressed my concern to our coach who said it wasn't just me, that we were all drifting out, she called it "breathing". But this one teammate is making me feel really bad. I'm hoping that with my training jumps with Airspeed at Eloy and tunnel time I'll be a better skydiver when we train tomorrow. But how do you deal with someone who loves you when you're doing well and gets frustrated with you when you aren't? My other teammates are layed back and fine with whatever happens.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing ~ Helen Keller

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In general, each member of a team has things they can do to improve the team performance.

The rules we use for debriefing a skydive:

1. Wait to see the video before making any comments about a skydive.
2. You are only allowed to point out your own mistakes on video.

I think most teams have similar rules.
"Buttons aren't toys." - Trillian

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Agreed the general rule is that you can compliment others but not critisize. One option is to let the coach handle the debrief and all the recomendations. The other thing is to bring it up during a Pass the Rock. You need to be able to communicate with teammates. But address it soon or it will build and end up causing problems

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Ummm...does your team mate not have internet access, or do you have some other reason to believe he won't read what you wrote about him on a public forum? Or would you rather he read about himself on here instead of having a rock session where you get this stuff off your chests in private? :S

Teams can be tricky, everyone has to be sensitive to each other while you let stuff shake down...

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As Chris said, ask the coach to explain how the teammates should communicate with each other during the ground preparation and debriefs. There is a lot of information available on-line (Airspeed articles are probably one of the best sources you can possibly find), however, people always tend to listen better and be more receptive when the information is directly delivered by senior person (a person whom they'd automatically respect because of his/her experience)

Ask the coach to tell the whole team how to pass the rock and maybe even ask him/her to participate at first few rock passing sessions.

If the teammate continues trashing you, bring it up during rock passing session (but only after everyone learns what rock passing is for and how to do it). If he still picks on you, cut him because 1) your team experience is supposed to be fun 2) you cannot communicate well and work as a team in the sky if you continuously fight on the ground and get frustrated.

Team dynamics is very complicated. You cannot expect people to know everything and always be perfect when they just got started. In a way, you are going through selection. Some of your teammates will learn the simple basics to realize that the 4-way is endless journey. The others might decide that teams are not for them. The problem you run into is not unique and solutions are fairly simple.;)

Edit to add:
Talking to experienced 4-way people in private rather than discussing this issue on-line is also a good idea

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Amax and Samaurai are both correct. Team dynamics are very complicated, and NOTHING like regular (read: recreational) skydives. Here is a situation where performance is all. If you've got a teammate who is very intense and is expecting more from everyone, and it's not happening immediately, stress results. Definitely keep all comments to yourself until after the video is watched. Even if the critisism is valid, focus on the positive, and work towards improvment.

4-way is a very long journey. Not a destination. Even if, in your wildest dreams, you win the world meet, then what? You don't stop, there's the Malevesky Cup, the world cup, the next nationals and so on. Local meet, regional meet, nationals, world meet, it's all the same - you're on top for ONE DAY, and one day only. You savor the victory, then you get back in the saddle and start work again. Why? Because there's always another team right behind you that want's to win. On any given day, on any given skydive - you too can suck.

That rule applies to your teammate, too.

Way back in the day we had an 8-way team that had these two guys on it who could do no wrong. They were a royal pain because they were always blaming others for various problems on the dives.

Then came video.

During our second year of training, we had air to air video - what an incredible eye openener! Come to find out, 90% of our problems were being caused by these two idiots. By the end of the year, they were off the team. Two years later they both hung up the sport because they became "bored". Really, it was simply that they couldn't be top dogs in our little DZ, so they simply quit.

My point to this little fable is that you might not be the problem. The video will tell. And the coach should point out what the problems are, and more importantly, tell you how to fix them. If you're the problem, fine, fix it. If not, then the other person, or people, need to fix their shortcomings.

Either way - 4-way has no room for big egos - you can't have them and expect to improve. Because no one is that good until after you win the world meet. If you haven't, then sit down and see what you can learn - all of you.

Don't get involved in emotional quagmires during this journey. It's a distraction none of you need. If there's a dispute over what happened, check the video and keep a third party on hand for an unbiased point of view. If this individual continues with this sort of behaviour, and IF the video evidence belies what he's saying, then either he needs to be replaced, or have a very serious talk with the coach.

if the video evidence does agree with what he's saying, he still needs to have a serious talk with the coach because his actions are having a negative impact on the team, and that's not acceptable.

This is supposed to be fun. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and the only way to do that is through communication. What are you all trying to achieve? What are your goals? What are the team goals? What are the goals of your teammates? Have you discussed this?

4-way, when it works, rocks beyond any other skydiving I've done. I was first hooked on it in 1975, and I've not looked back. Yes, there have been "speed bumps", but I still love it, and I hope you will too when you get to my point.
Mike Ashley
Canadian A-666

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Ken's nailed it, the only reinforcement of others is positive. Frankly, the only reinforcement at all should be positive - with 'constructive' input very tactful and, best, from an outside coach and based on technique and very little on specific individuals. Look through Jack's articles on the subject of debriefing, the link is in here somewhere in DZ.com - it's great. If you can't find it, PM me and I'll send it and the whole package to you.

We had an odd situation in my team. I started as a the coach (probably the greatest harm ever done to a team ;)) and did the debriefs at first - we were completely fresh and I was the only one even barely familiar with 4way. It worked great at the beginning and all were very happy. But during the season(s), everybody came up to speed fast in skill and knowledge. At that point, we had to switch to the other debriefs. The Airspeed debriefs were the right thing to do. Point here, is a team has to be able to switch as people gain confidence and skill.

It was really hard for me to switch gears, still is. Also one teammate also had trouble with it, and desired frank feedback of all kind - this one had trouble debriefing themselves in any way in front of the rest of us.

So two issues evolved - I (still) had to learn to keep the information minimal and mostly focused only my area. hard, as I'm a big mouthed opinionated SOB. But, the other person, just wouldn't participate in an Airspeed style debrief and just clammed up. It made it very difficult for the rest of us then as we consider we weren't getting equal contribution, the process really stalled out. I think our improvement ramp, which still progressed, was greatly slowed though.

We are starting fresh and will really work the formal debriefs per the Jack Article structure. I'm thrilled.

So a couple things -

1 - On the walk in from landing no comments allowed other than the following: "SWEET", "Nice Exit", "Great Skydive". In fact, always make one of these and try to walk in together with a positive attitude. :SIt fools the judges too:S

2 - Wait for the video. Say only positive things about yourself and each other; try to focus on the overall feel, not specific moves that only happened on one page and not the rest (this is tougher as you speak to what you see at the time);

I think the short version of the article is like this:

1 - wait for the vid
2 - restate goals of the team and jump
3 - watch the vid, shut up
4 - watch it for each teammate and let them pick up and state something positive about themselves and about the overall team performance
5 - let the coach or leader do the final overall debrief and discuss overall technique and avoid the individuals

The only time I've seen a pro coach pick out someone specifically was when that person ditched off an issue that they caused and then the coach showed them how their technique was causing the problem. I guarantee that had I or another teammate showed this skydiver the same thing, it would not have sunk in.

This one was funny, as this teammate walked up to me on the walk back from the jump and was mumbling about _______ doing this or that and it was ruining the block. Even though I 'thought' I knew what really happened, I said only "wait for the video" "wait" "nice exit". He piped up in the debrief about the same thing trying to tactfully draw out the coach to his viewpoint. The coach them dug into his technique. It was a turning point (eye opener?) for this teammate and he's great fun to jump and debrief with. Get a good coach and don't 'prime' the coach on the team issues. He'll likely see them on his own.

We have a lot to learn, but these are my best friends the last few years, and progression and communication makes or breaks that.

Driving is a one dimensional activity - a monkey can do it - being proud of your driving abilities is like being proud of being able to put on pants

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Nice list - I like Mario's website too. Great info. I have all the following consolidated in a Word Document. But it's a little to big (157 > 120) to post here. Not all these were easy to get to on the site.

A - Communicating 1 Briefing Structure
A - Communicating 2 Debriefing Structure
A - Communicating 3 FF Communication Eye Contact
B - Technique 1 Exits
B - Technique 2 Basics Exits
B - Technique 3 Random Work
B - Technique 4 Showing it to the Judges
C - Personal/Mental 1 Visualizing
C - Personal/Mental 2 Performing Your Best
C - Personal/Mental 3 Remembering Non-repeaters
C - Personal/Mental 4 Stretching For Peak Performance
D - Team Building 1 Forming a Team
D - Team Building 2 Understanding your Slot
D - Team Building 3 Team Dynamics
D - Team Building 4 Goals
D - Team Building 5 Keeping Records

Here's A2 in total:

Debriefing Structure
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2002
By Jack Jefferies
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.

Driving is a one dimensional activity - a monkey can do it - being proud of your driving abilities is like being proud of being able to put on pants
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Evelyn, many SoCal skydivers lurk these threads, even if they don't post much. I know how shy and sensitive, that you can be in person, but posting on DZ.com about your problems with your team mate seems like a bad way for your team mates and coach to find out how you really feel. Perhaps, it would be best for you to discuss team problems in private with your team mate and coach, instead.

(Btw, I look forward to seeing you in February!)

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Hey everybody, thanks for your input. I'm sorry if I sounded like I was putting my teammate down, not at all. I love all my teammates, was just kind of wondering if I should maybe say something to him or just let it go. And I think it was more me being overly sensitive. He wasn't
being mean at all, just agreed with me when I said that I was drifting out, then said yeah you were doing that last week too. Just constructive criticism, but it made me feel bad that he agreed with me, especially since this is the team member I really look up to. Anyway, am happy to report that team training jumps yesterday went really well and we were all happy :)

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing ~ Helen Keller

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You have received some excellent advice in here Evelyn.
The only thing that I might add (forgive me if I missed this in the previous reponses) is to ask Hammo about "Pass the Rock". He explains it really well and it sounds like something you should do.. if you haven't found out abou it already.
For some teams that takes place once a month and clears the air.

Good luck!

" Do you want to be Better.....or do you want to be Good?"

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