8-way Basics: Great builds happen in stages

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Stages! Some builds in 8-way look impossible at first (here’s looking at you hope-less diamond). But if we combine two critical concepts discussed in earlier articles they become very achievable.  By building the center first and facing inwards while formations build, points are built in distinct stages.  

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


Break the Build into Parts

As you learn how a formation is pieced together, you can see how beneficial it is to do things in clear steps. There are key non-contact pictures that flyers will form while they wait for other portions to build. By waiting in a spot with good visuals flyers can match levels, let the center build, and more precisely learn their slot!

The more complex the formation is to build, the more stages it will have and the more important it is for these individual steps to happen.

Rushing? Try keying each Stage

Sometimes these steps occur together rapidly, but most often teams try to rush the steps to ill effect. A possible solution for this is literally keying in one or more stages of the formation.  This can force patience against the temptation to turn to a grip too soon.

An excellent candidate for a staged key is the Hope Diamond.

Hope Diamond
Six people outfaced… hopeless?

A Hope Diamond, sometimes nicknamed the Hopeless Diamond, is one of the most intimidating formations in the pool to build.  As you can see, six people are outfaced with an open center (no clear structural grips between the center four).


To build it, start by having the Inside Center and Outside Center set the spacing while the other six all face directly inwards towards each other.  When the Inside Center and Outside Center clearly see that the next four flyers are all in the right space and on level they give a mutual key.  This signals the Inside Front, Front Center, Outside Rear, and Rear Center to outface.  Once these four have finished, only then do the Point and Tail complete their outfacing move to finish the Hope Diamond.

Hope Diamond First Setup
Stage 1… everyone in faced and in position
Hope Diamond Second Setup
The point and tail stay in faced until it everything else is complete.

By keying it after everyone is in position, the team reduces the risk of having four people who cannot see each other dangle out in the open sky while another flyer is getting into position.  Being diligent about the staging is what makes this Diamond more hopeful.


Stage Rigidily at First, Relax With Success

Once you have built a formation a few dozen times successfully the strong distinct stages can come a little faster. Those non-contact pictures still exist, but as flyers become familiar and build trust they can begin to exercise good judgment for when the formation is inviting them to complete.


By breaking down tricky formations into smaller parts you can stay on level, build correctly from the center, and learn your positioning faster. Be a believer and practice this excellent discipline!


Do you have a secret pre-build no-one else seems to know about? Share it on my facebook page and help others out!


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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