See Your Jump Like a Judge

Monday, October 18, 2021

I took the judges course years ago while I was on Fury. It was absolutely eye-opening to see things from a judging perspective! I think it helped our team improve.


Even if you don’t take the course, you can learn a lot by thinking like a judge.

See Your Teammates

Ever notice there are three other people on your 4-way videos? The old joke points out that most people watch the video only seeing themselves. The first step to seeing it as a judge is to step back and pretend you aren’t on the skydive. Backing up will allow you to see how the whole thing looks holistically.

This skill will help you in your debriefs, too – see the group is working together instead of just your role.

If you are starting, practice your judging chops on other teams. Looking at others can pull you away from the personal aspect of judging your jumps. You can also compare your work against real judges if you use skydives from a scored meet. Once you get the idea, you can move to your jumps and work on dispassionately scoring your own work.


Judges are looking for clear points and obvious separation. The most significant visual indicator of this is synchronicity. If things move together, they don’t catch the eye because it looks planned and smooth. If a jump is “poppy,” your eyes will go nuts trying to see separation. Even if things are legal between points, it is much harder to see.

Synchronicity trumping legality was the biggest lesson I got from taking the course. Judges look less at dives that look together.  For a pro competitor, being together becomes almost as important as having a point.

Where you are looking

The direction you are looking gives away a lot of information. If you are staring at your grip when the key comes, not only is it likely to be asynchronous, it sends a warning signal that you were still trying to grab it.

Where your head looks is especially important in 8way, where there are lots of double keys. If one of those centers is staring to their right while the other keys it, something probably wasn’t built. No matter how good you are at faking, it will make a judge look twice.

Telegraphing what you are looking at, by the way, is why you should take the stripes off your helmet before you compete. Those “liar stripes” are fantastic for coaching and learning, but at a meet, they give you away!

Video angle, actually seeing

When a judge sees the dive, they must confirm the formation presented clearly. Until you take a step back, you might not realize how much you don’t see the video while you train. I’ll admit this is a weaker spot for me, too – I don’t notice the video person’s errors as much as I should. Look to make sure you can see all of the grips on the formations you score, not just on exit.

This error can happen in freefall too. Certain “hook” style grips can overshoot the limb and become wholly obscured during the piece move. While the grip feels secure and fantastic to you, it might get busted if the judges can’t see it through the whole block.

Stationary grips

When you are on a skydive, it is easy not to ignore the quality of your grips. After all, you know your hand was there. But subtle slipping of grips or sliding your hands during a block will catch the judge’s eyes. When you enter judge mode, remember that the grip must look like it is still and in control. Look for hands moving on a piece as it moves through.

Trained eye

Most judges aren’t ultra-experienced competitors. They look at a jump differently than an experienced competitor, and it can be hard to replicate that yourself.

The fix is to get your dives in front of actual judges. You can do this in a meet, or just by asking them to help you. Judges are often looking for stuff to practice on, and many would welcome a chance to practice and give you feedback. Take advantage of these opportunities whenever possible.


In summary, to get better at judging your jumps, look at the whole picture, focus on synchronicity, control where you are looking, don’t ignore video issues, and make sure those hands are still! In the end, nothing is better than getting your jump in front of real live judges whenever you can!

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I've watched Christy develop as a competitor and coach for 17 years and I've seen her do this again and again. There is one risk when working with her. You're going to want more, lots more!

» Dan BC – Airspeed

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