Want to know how to tackle slot switchers? I discuss several approaches to mastering both slots and learning to deal with the extra long jumps.
B Slot Training Options
Teams get nervous about their b-slots because it is hard to get enough time practicing your primary slot, never mind your secondary one. To complicate the situation, you must carefully choose how much of your resources you should dedicate to a slot that will come up about 10%-15% of the time for most teams.
Math: Worst case scenario is 6 slot switch rounds for the front pair in a full meet because there are six slot switchers. A 15-point average team will experience about 33% of each slot switched jump in their b slots. The most this group would expect to spend in b-slots is 20%.
There is a set of useful approaches you can take to train this part of your game. A team should use a couple of the approaches below to feel more prepared.
Work them in Naturally
First consider working switchers into your training plan naturally. Instead of contriving your jumps to switch you out of jumps and making training easier, just treat them as another block. It is less confidence boosting than working your way back to your home slot all of the time, but it boosts your switcher fluency without dedicating chunks of extra training. Hypothetically if you train a random distribution of stuff, you should end up working switchers exactly how much you’d expect them to show up on competition day.
Hit the Tunnel
The most obvious place to increase your comfort in your b-slot is the tunnel. Because you can get a lot of flying in for a relatively inexpensive price, you can allocate a good portion of this resource to your b slots. The tunnel is a little different than the sky, but the familiarity you can build here is hard to top.
Train With Switchers in a Bunch of Jumps
Beyond just being comfortable in your b slots, you should consider the act of switching as a skill. In other words, flipping back and forth takes practice just like the outside center learning to do a zig zag marquis from the point takes practice. Teams who don’t practice actually switching a lot find themselves intimidated by these types of dives.
To practice, you should deliberately design dives that have a slot switcher and force you to go back and forth. There really is no substitute for this part of your game, and since the other techniques here are more about how to increase the time spent in your unfamiliar spot, this one is required.
You can make it a team challenge. My former 8-way team Moxie dedicated an entire camp to the worst, nastiest, most technically challenging slot-switching dives I could design. It was rough but the team stepped up and it made a massive difference in slot-switchers and our performance and confidence overall.
Exit in B-slots
You can pick some simple exits and just exit in your b slot. This maximizes the time you spend there and gives the dive a natural feel. The downside of using this technique is that exits are very precious since they are limited to one per skydive.
Flippy-Floppy After Exit
If you want to keep the exit practice, you can exit in your normal slots, finish the block, and swing on over to your b slots. The advantage is that you preserve the exit. The disadvantage is that it wastes a little time and gives the dive a drill-type feeling. This can be a great route if you are turning multiple dives or just need to throw together something quick and easy to remember.
Find Another Team That Needs a Fill-In, or Spend a Season There
The year that I was invited to compete with Fastrax Blue at the world meet, they put me in my b slot (I was OC, I flew point with Blue). I was on Perris Fury at that time and found slot switching challenging. Blue did about fifty jumps before the actual meet in France, and after the experience just being in my b-slot in training and a major meet, I found switching on Fury to be significantly easier.
If you can find a way to do a set of jumping and competing with another group as a fill-in, that is a fantastic opportunity. Even if the team is slower, just hanging out in your alternate spot and seeing the pictures a bunch is tremendously helpful.
If you’re really lucky, maybe you have already spent a season in your b-slot. One team I coach (Prime Pickles!) has three members who have done several seasons in their b-slots. Because of that, switching is a major strength for the team and we don’t need to invest a lot of training in it.
In the end, find the right balance between feeling somewhat comfortable and committing too much precious time to b-slots. Take a look at what resources will give you the most bang for your buck and temporarily cease bonus opportunities that present themselves. Your goal is to feel confident in the door at the big meet; to know you have planned for switchers better than your rivals.