How to Take Criticism Like a Champ in Formation Skydiving

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Coaching a Team

Taking criticism and turning it into improvement will propel you forward in your skydiving goals. Unfortunately, criticism can be very hard to take, especially in public.

Learning to turn around negative feelings and produce positive change is a learnable skill. Teach yourself to take criticism from your coach, instructor, teammate, or skydiving peers in a positive manner and you will improve rapidly.


Weigh the Value Objectively

First, however, is considering the source. Does this person have the knowledge or expertise appropriate to help me? Are they giving me this information in order to help me improve? If you are being given advice from your 100 jump peer, be careful about implementing it wholeheartedly until you can verify their statements with more expert channels of information.

Are their ulterior motives for their criticism? Are they angry about another incident or deflecting blame from somewhere else? Did they do something stupid themselves and are acting out on the resulting fear?

Evaluate this information objectively. Don’t let your own emotions and reactions muddy the field. The rest of this article assumes that the person giving you this criticism has a valid perspective and pure intentions.


Acknowledge the Emotion

Understand that criticism produces a powerfully emotional reaction. Your brain perceives the criticism with the flight or fight response. The feedback that you are not jumping high enough on your Meeker exit might not result in being eaten by a tiger, but your brain reacts on this as a perceived threat just the same. This is why you experience the urge to storm off the landing area or throw a remote at the TV when someone points out a plausible problem.

Knowing this can help you stay calm and choose a better reaction. Stay calm while your instructor talks so you can really listen to the advice and choose how to move forward.


Redirect Criticisms to the Action, Not the Person

After calming the emotional component, make an effort to redirect the criticism away from yourself and onto the action. In other words, you aren’t a bad skydiver, your exit was just bad. By refocusing the criticism to a single act it will reduce the threat to your identity. All great skydivers have a lot of bad exits; it would be silly if a handful of bad exits affected your whole self-concept.


Ask Smart Questions


If you have an experienced coach delivering the criticism the feedback is probably specific and clear enough to act on, but if not you should ask questions. Especially open-ended ones. If the criticism is vague, like that block was bad, ask questions that will help you understand how to improve. What can you do to fix this next time? What should I see on the video? What would the right move feel like in the air?


Thank Your Critic

Finally, thank your critic. If your critic has the best intentions, they have given you a gift.

On your journey towards your skydiving goals, you are destined to make a lot of errors on the way. Finding someone who cares enough to help you correct them quickly is something to be grateful for. Let them know you appreciate that so they will continue to help in the future.

Craving more skills? Check out our budget-friendly Meeker Monday program for great FS tunnel!

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Christy's coaching offers so much more than simply learning the dive pool--to fly well, one needs to engineer appropriately, walk purposefully, clearly understand the formations, recognize the role each flyer plays, and think. But even more to the point, each person coached receives personal attention to develop their skill, celebrating successes and examining weaknesses.

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