What most people do not know about being on a pro 4-way team

Monday, May 9, 2022

I get many curious questions about what it is like to be on a professional skydiving team. Here are the answers that surprise people the most.

No one pays us

The biggest questions I get are about sponsorship and how we make a living. We have AWESOME sponsors, and teams could not operate without them. So essentially, the top teams can expect free gear and jumps. But nobody pays us a salary, or for many of our other expenses.

And there are a lot of expenses in FS. Packing is a big one. Video situations differ, but the video person needs funding. Competition fees can also run high. For a team that commutes to several dropzones like Rhythm, travel is a gut punch. Plus, we train 12 or more days a month – so we have to squeeze in all of our work in the other 18 days.

To cover all of this, we coach and run events in between all the training. We constantly work – planning, organizing, and running a business. Luckily, we love what we do!

Talk to us! Please!

Early on, Dan BC taught me that teams training look like arseholes to fun jumpers. We are in snazzy matching gear, cluster in a small group, use a secret code of numbers, and close our eyes on the ride to altitude.

All the pro teams I have been hate that perception.

So, while we looked super focused when we are training, we love talking with folks! We might not be able to stop creeping for a 20-minute chat, but we aren’t so into our training that we don’t want you to say hello and introduce yourself!

So, while we looked super focused when we are training, we love talking with folks!

We love jumping but get tired (and sore)

People also ask if we still like jumping. The answer is a resounding yes; otherwise, we would stop outright! If you do not have the time of your life, it is a risky and expensive thing to do. In fact, every professional teammate I know loves the sport.

However, we get tired. Fourteen or more intense jumps in a day wipes us out. And we frequently approach 200 jumps a month. So if we do not look energetic or go home before sunset, it is not a comment on our desire to skydive. The team is probably just pooped.

We like coaching

Almost all professionals in the US make their living coaching. The good news is that all the professionals I know enjoy working with others. It is self-selection – if you do not dig teaching, you will not have many avenues to find income here. If you cannot fund your team training, you are not going to get far competitively.

You could hypothetically have a job and train 10-15 days a month, but it would have to be a particular type of work that allows that flexibility. It is rare.

We make a lot of mistakes

I joke that because we are going so much faster, we make more mistakes than our students. Unfortunately, this is true. Our jumps are far from perfect while we train; otherwise, we would not need to practice.

One big difference is we do not stress about mistakes the way amateur teams sometimes do. Instead, we work through the problem, take notes, and get back to it. This is because we have all been through the learning process, and it does not frustrate us as much.

We have a lot of fun

You hear the saying “never make your hobby your job because you’ll hate it” occasionally. In my experience, this is a big lie we tell people so that the world still has accountants. We have a god damn blast training and competing.

 

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Not only did she deliver on her promise of helping us but she did it with a high level of professionalism through her succinct, laser-focused and practical feedback, unprecedented personal touch with her unique humor and hospitality that left us speechless and by always going above and beyond in helping us with logistics! - Djordje Mandaric, Seattle Swift - OC

» Djordje Mandaric – Seattle Swift

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