8-way Basics – Build the Center First

Thursday, June 13, 2019

In the last article, we spent some time identifying a center 4way.  A mantra among 8way teams is ‘build the center first, let the center build’.  This means that the 4 outside flyers should allow the 4 center flyers to build the core formation before attempting to grip themselves.


This is a short series of articles that will help you break down and understand how 8-ways are built.  While focusing on the formations in the competition pool, the tools shown here are highly transferable to general formation skydiving.

8-way Basics: Finding your slot
8-way Basics: Finding your clone
8-way Basics: Finding the centers
8-way Basics: Build the center first
8-way Basics: In-facing strategy
8-way Basics: Staged setups
8-way Basics: Round formations
8-way Basics: Fall rate
8-way Basics: Shared keying
8-way Basics: Line between point and tail
8-way Basics: Block inters




A well built snowflake
A well built snowflake

Consider a Snowflake formation.  The center Star should be built before the Cats are taken.  If this doesn’t happen, the center flyers will not be able to get to the middle of the formation.  The two-piece Cat will have difficulty joining the group in the proper position because it is more difficult for two people to fly together with grips than without.  In effect, the grips stop the Center from getting where she needs to go.

The cyan flyer can't get to the right slot because the blue flyer picked her up too soon
The cyan flyer can’t get to the right slot because the blue flyer picked her up too soon

Note: Snowflake is actually the top of the block Snowflake>In Out.  I am not discussing the block move in this article, just using the top as a great example.  If you are confused about the Inside Center and Outside Center being on the outside instead of inside the center star it is because of the move required for the entire block.

For the four centers, this means setting up the middle shape before thinking about gripping the outside flyers.  For the outside flyers this means looking through the center of the formation and waiting until the middle is gripped, complete, and ready to be docked on.

These four flyers focus on building a fantastic star first
These four flyers focus on building a fantastic star first
These four flyers don't pick up grips until the center star is complete
These four flyers don’t pick up grips until the center star is complete


A crossbow formation
A crossbow formation

This idea can be extended to shapes in which the center formation is not just the typical center four flyers.  Look at a Crossbow (K).  Here the very center is a two way Compressed between the Outside Center and the Inside Center.  This grip should happen first for most teams.

Center first
Center first!

In this case, the center is the two way Compressed in the middle.  The Front Center, Inside Front, Rear Center, and Outside Rear should wait patiently in their slots until it is completed before docking.  The Point and Tail should wait even longer; until their corresponding side is complete before finally closing up their own Bow.

Next to dock
Next to dock

A crossbow formation
A crossbow formation
Coach Tips: The Inside Front/Front Center and the Outside Rear/Rear Center should think about being parallel with each other.  This will keep the tails of the bow from being too far apart.

The Inside Center should look through to the Tail as he is moving into the middle and the Outside Center should look at the Point.  This will help them know how far to move into the middle.

If you see video of very advanced teams might make the center grip the last on purpose – but this can only be done if the skydivers can correctly fly a gripped formation while moving.



I've watched Christy develop as a competitor and coach for 17 years and I've seen her do this again and again. There is one risk when working with her. You're going to want more, lots more!

» Dan BC – Airspeed

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