What is a formation?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

You formation skydive. You are trying to make formations. But what exactly is a formation? How do I “mirror one”? And why is it ok to cheat?

Formation Composition

A formation is defined by the required grips. Points of contact between the represented skydivers indicate the leg and arm grips needed to make the formation. In other words, we grab arms and legs to make a particular shape.

A simple example is a classic star.  Every jumper’s right hand connects to another jumper’s left hand forming the familiar circle.


stardivepool starphoto

Basic 2-way Formations

All formations, regardless of size, are comprised of basic 2-way shapes below.  Knowing these pieces well will help you communicate and define your position more clearly.  Below demonstrates the eight possible combinations.

cat comp halfstar open phalanx sidebody bipolepin



Look at a meeker (formation e) from the dive pool.

Notice how it is comprised of an open accordion in the center:


And two phalanxes on the outside:

And finally two bipoles on the outside:

Cheating & Mirroring


You can hold any formation up to a mirror and it remains the same formation.  For instance, in our open accordion, the flyers are holding their right hands.  If they were to hold their left hands, such as below, it is still an open accordion.  In 4-way, you can mirror individual randoms or entire blocks.



openaccmirror openacc



Take our meeker from the above example:

And reverse it to get this:

The above is a legal Meeker.  Notice how the essential 2-way grips are not changed.  There is still an open accordion in the center, surrounded by two phalanxes and two bipoles.



It’s not ‘cheating’ in the unfair play sense.  In formation skydiving, cheating refers to angling your body so that you are still maintaining the correct grip.  For instance, the following are all legal open accordions.

opencheat2 opencheat1 openacc openaccmirror







Below is an example of an adder printed in the dive pool and a real picture.  In this case, it is both mirrored and cheated.  If you study the defining grips, however, you can see that is the same formation.

adderdivepool addercontinuity addersky


Hopefully that helps you clarify what a formation is! Once you understand the building blocks the more complex and unique stuff you can build in the sky.


Want to learn the 4-way formations? Download the Fury Continuity for the color-coded pictures of each formation.



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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