Quit faking it and learn these common formations

Monday, April 5, 2021

You’ve seen and practiced all the basic formations – stars, opens, and zippers. But then the organizer starts throwing out even more oddball names you are expected to know. Expand your repertoire to include all kinds of diamonds, murphies, and bipoles!

And skip ahead to sign up for the intermediate formation printable sheet.


A meeker is a fun and sturdy formation that is beginner friendly but hard to launch intact. Also the name of Meeker Monday – a budget-friendly formation skydiving event.

E-Meeker meeker2 meeker




Four or more people faced the same way, alternating in front and back. You’d know where this comes from if you are familiar with Greek military formations. Or, like me, you play lots of video games.

Q-Phalanx phalanx (2) phalanx

Cat (erpillar)

Cats are done in a two-way or expanded to infinity. If many jumpers link together, it looks like a caterpillar, but everyone calls it a cat. Larger cats are cheated and angled into a circle. It has a high challenge level with more than three people.

15-CaterpillarTop cat Cat

Compressed Accordion

Compresseds are made with two to infiinity people. Huge ones are tricky to make because they float so much.

16-CompressedTop compressed2 compressed compressed3


A pod is a three-way with two people in a star shape and one person facing away.


Courtesy of perrisorganizers.com
Courtesy of perrisorganizers.com


A classic diamond has everyone facing the same direction.

10-DiamondTop diamond

Opposed diamond

A spin on the classic diamond, instead of an outfacer on the top, the person faces inward. It makes the formation easier and can be a great beginner exit option.


Courtesy of perrisorganizers.com
Courtesy of perrisorganizers.com

Stairstep Diamond

A stairstep diamond is another variation on the classic diamond. This time it is comprised of two two-way stairstep grips facing each other.

B-Stairstep stairstep


Two flyers will in-face, and two flyers out-face in a bipole. A quick tip is to build a close no-contact star first, then have the outfacers turn away together.

14-BipoleTop copy bipole bipole2


A murphy is a star with one guy facing out. I’m not entirely sure if this was named for someone or based on the Murphy’s Law joke – with the outfacer having gone “wrong.” If anyone knows, let me know so I can update this article.

17-MurphyBottom murphy

Zig Zag

Zig Zags are beginner friendly and the start of a popular block. It reinforces eye contact for the flyers on the sidebodies – so cross-reference!

21-ZigZagTop zigzag zigzag2


Similar to a zig zag, but adds the complication of an out facer.

N-Crank crank2 crank


A snowflake is done with 4 to infinity flyers. The inspiration for the name is evident when you look at an 8way version.

1-Snowflake-Top snowlfake3 snowflake snowflake2


Make a sidebody with 2 to infinity flyers. The four-way version is achievable but gets wild when you start adding more numbers.

P-Sidebody sidebody


A satellite is built with four to infinity people, as long as the number is even. I also found an old document that referred to this one as a “baby tooth.”

O-Sattelite copy sattelite


Made famous by the dancing spider skydive. Made popular by being that thing you can do with five people.

Spider spider


Flaking and stinging isn’t a formation, but a term you will hear. It roughly translates to “stick a dude on the outside.” I’ve heard it refer to making a cat, sidebody, or compressed on some other formation. For example – murphy flake is a cat on a murphy formation. Sideflake donut is a compressed slapped on a donut.

2-SidebodyDonut-InterD C-MurphyFlake



Now that you are prepared to walk more complex stuff, sign up below for a printable cheat sheet!


I really like Christy's coaching style, it's a great mix of serious and fun, with the ratio adjusted as needed for each person/team. Great organizational skills to keep all the cats herded, and she is skilled and knowledgeable.

» Christine Deglau – Perris Quattro

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