I describe skydiving skills as falling into one of two buckets – moving around and making the right decisions. Here is how to improve both for an impressive overall effect.
To do formation skydiving, you need to move around. A lot. The more efficiently you can move your body, the more controlled your skydiving will become. Skills under this category are basic movements like fall rate, forward and backward, slides, turns, and even stability.
The second bucket of skills is decision-making skills. This is knowing where to go and recognizing a variety of situations quickly. You don’t need to move super fast if you can predict the direction of the skydive sooner than everyone else. Being able to see fall rate changes, knowing how to intercept a moving formation, and building a perfect cat are classic examples of this skillset.
Skydiving without one or the other
Your emptiest bucket limits you. Work on that bucket’s skill set to improve your overall performance.
Let’s look at two extreme examples of unbalanced buckets.
First, take someone who has been skydiving for a very long time. Before wind tunnels, before we knew about body flight, before any of that. This hypothetical person has thousands of jumps but a cringe-inducing body position. They struggle to move correctly and efficiently. However, they do well on bigger skydives. They know exactly where to go so they don’t have to go that fast.
For a counter-example, consider a wind tunnel instructor without FS experience. They can spin as fast as I can. They fly gorgeously and effortlessly. But when in a 4way situation they underscore. They can move quickly, but they don’t know the pictures, how pieces move, or how to respond to their teammates.
How to train each
The most efficient way to train your flight bucket is through the wind tunnel. You can build muscle memory in an environment with fixed references, video, and accessible coaching. Try a tunnel camp or equivalent to boost this skill set.
Find a team or a group to work with consistently to improve decision-making skills. The sky is a natural fit, but 4-way in a tunnel works ok too. Set goals, put yourself in various situations, and learn with intention.
Mind each bucket to make better choices about how you want to invest your training budget. Balance both for the most effective plan!
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