Headswitch later! Headswitch sooner! Why so much advice about when to flip your head and look the other way? It seems minor, but read on to find out why it is so critical.
Head switching is when an out-facing skydiver change from looking over one shoulder to the other. Think of a dancer doing a pirouette – a dancer flips their head around to keep their eye on a target as they spin.
Looking out into dead space is a rotten plan. “Studying the color of the relative wind,” i.e., staring out into space, deprives you of critical information about the formation’s position and fall rate.
Your jumps will be better if you keep your eye on fellow flyers. If you are head-switching too soon, you may be unnecessarily blind for too long. Too late, and you’ll also lose the picture.
Note for the “Umm…actually” crowd: There is an essential place for a neutral spine (looking straight ahead) at certain times for certain skill levels. I’ll discuss that in a future article.
Head and Hip Connection
When people head switch, their hip tends to kick out. You can unlearn this side-effect with training, but it is an advanced flight skill. To unlock greatness in the meantime, flipping your head at precisely the right time will move your hips how you want.
For example, when turning, head-switching too early can cause chest turning. Head-switching too late causes all kinds of weird scooting around. Both can lead to spine twisting, which negatively affects your flying.
For an example of a head-switched turn, I recommend Rhythm’s video.
Piece Partner Harmony
Related to the head and hip connection, head-switching at the right time will keep you from inadvertently pulling away from your partner. In a piece (two or more people flying linked), a mistimed head-switch can yank your leg away from your partner, dragging them away from the formation. But, conversely, if you time it right, your head-switch contributes to the move and makes it faster.