You’ve seen some 4-way teams that have the outside center give the count, while others have the inside center give the count. Which is better?
Case for the outside center
If you’ve worked with me before, you know that I preach that no matter who is giving the count everyone is watching the outside center (in most exits) and matching their body language for the actual timing. Placing yourself in relation to the outside center is critical. This is a strong reason to select the outside center for the count, since everyone needs to be watching for that anyway.
The outside center usually has a movement that involves kicking their leg up and out from the plane. The natural swinging motion can help ‘pre-present’ the hips to the wind and increase the chances of presentation.
Also, the outside center is clearly visible to the camera as well, making it easier for them to read the count and nail their exit.
Case for the inside center
The biggest justification for giving the count from the inside is that the outside-center has a strong and complex leap to make from the plane and taking the count off his/her plate increases the chances they will be able to do that well.
The inside center giving the count allows the outside-center to jump from the plane with two legs, which should be more powerful and poised than one leg. This should make up for the lack of pre-presenting a leg swing count provides.
Legend has it that the original purpose of giving the inside center the count was to ‘hide’ the count from the judges. If the judges are watching a clear leg swing, they – in theory – hit the start timer off of the swing more than they do when, conversely, a person leaves the plane. Essentially the concept is to leave the judges hitting their watch ‘flat footed’ as opposed to giving a tell. (I’m not entirely sure I buy this argument, but I haven’t exactly tested it either.)
Airspeed Nationals 2014 Round 1: Inside Count
I have jumped as an outside- and an inside-center on professional teams. I have a strong preference for having the inside give the count. For myself, when I was outside center it took a lot of effort to nail that jump-up move, and having every piece of balance I could muster gave me an edge.
This assumes you have a wide exit continuity (exit lots of stuff intact). If you are wisely only launching a bow than it doesn’t matter as much.
However, both strategies can work really well if done right. If you are struggling with your exits, it might be worth switching it up to see if it helps.