Headed to your first tunnel meet? They are a blast! Here are some tips to make your competition successful.
Types of competitions
Each meet is unique and varies in scale and size. They can be local competitions or a grand meet with up to 100 teams. My favorite meets are the World Challenge in the UK, and the XP Meet in North Carolina.
Because each meet is unique, how fast you are going to go varies. You should have an idea of what to expect beforehand from any meet plan or documentation.
Bigger meets will run one round at a time with a break for preparation between each. Smaller local meets will sometimes double or triple up rounds – you might prepare for a few rounds before entering the antechamber. In these cases, you’d only have a short time to walk.
Tip: Even big meets run faster than sky meets. There is no packing and no airplane ride! Make your prep plan to fit the unique schedule.
Tunnel scores are faster than sky scores. The gap varies but runs between 15%-35% more points in time per team. Lack of rigs, plane exit, and hill all contribute to being able to rock and roll a bit more in the same period.
Tip: The faster pace can make the tunnel sessions feel longer than a skydive. Keep flying until the end! Wait for the flashing signal before you stop.
I have caught myself not visualizing enough at a tunnel meet! There isn’t a 15-minute plane ride, so my normal skydiving prep process goes down the drain. It took me some time to realize it, but after creeping I must carve out time to do my mental work.
Tip: Make time to visualize. Realize the time between gear on and green light is fast!
Rules vary here. In big meets high divisions launch from the door. How much you can have sticking out, whether you can touch the net, and what constitutes “in the door” is defined per meet.
For lower divisions, it is common to fly in, build a star, and start the time when the star breaks.
Tip: Ask lots of exit questions in the brief if the rules aren’t spelled out. Make sure you don’t start the clock prematurely.
- Most meets give you practice or warm-up session so you can determine your wind speed. Once set make sure you designate someone to check the wind speed is correct for your team (if visible) before entering.
- Mentally prepare for extra distractions. Plan to mentally shut out spectators, competitors, and motion outside the glass.
- Unlike the sky, it is hard to avoid seeing your competitors’ round. You might want to turn away while they are flying to keep yourself focused on your round (especially just before your team starts).
- At big meets, it is often very crowded. Don’t let your helmet get lost in a sea of 100 other same helmets lying all over the place.
Ready to try a meet? Check out local meets, tunnel leagues, or travel to a big meet with a fun group!