Start-Coast-Stop! Unlike the terribly wrong ‘hug a beach ball’ and ‘leave 45 degrees between group’ memes, this old tip works!
Think of every move in three parts.
Start – There is an initiation phase where you get movement in a particular direction.
Coast – You move back to neutral and coast along for a bit. If you do these two things, you’ll keep cruising along in that direction.
Stop – Counter the direction you are going to arrest the momentum before going back to neutral. This is how you can move and stop where you want.
Application – Forward
Forward is the simplest and first example introduced to new jumpers.
Start – Extend your legs
Coast – Go to neutral
Stop – Go backward just a little before getting neutral again
Application – Fall rate
Most people don’t consider fall rate as a candidate for start-coast-stop, but it is! In a wind tunnel, if you initiate a faster fall rate (go down) and return to neutral, you will hit the net. To stop, you have to slow fall until the momentum is arrested.
This happens in the opposite direction too. If you are in an older model wind tunnel, like Perris, the air gets soft pretty quickly just above the door. Fly slowly up and you won’t get too much higher before you are maxed out. However, if you slow fall abruptly and go neutral, you’ll get high above this point.
In big-way skydiving, this is a common source of going low. If a jumper doesn’t arrest the momentum built up getting to the formation, they will fall faster then the formation. If you don’t hit the breaks, you end up below it despite matching the fall rate on level. (Hint: the solution is to leave a buffer, called the stadium in big way skydiving)
Application – Zig Zag > Marquis (Block 21)
Start coast stop can be seen directly in 4-way blocks too. Consider the centers of block 21. Their first move is to step out at an angle. After they step out, they will need to stop their momentum outwards or risk taking the pieces too far. When the outsides cross, they need to begin stopping as they cross. If they don’t stop the pieces will go too far, and the block will not close.
No matter what kind of flying you do, start-coast-stop is a useful way of thinking about managing your momentum!