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Dan'sMagic 19 – Making a Training Plan

Dividing your available training jumps into 8 sections, each with a specific focus, will maximize your progression
Dividing your available training jumps into 8 sections, each with a specific focus, will maximize your progression

Final part of Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld's series on 4-way. Dan was a founding member of Airspeed and is a multiple 4- and 8-way World Champion, competing at world level for more than 20 years. Dan developed a training system through his experience with Airspeed and coaching so many teams at novice and world class levels. It works. His personal and coached teams consistently performed at their best in competition and often won – three consecutive and different Women's World Champion 4way teams for instance; Synchronicity, Storm and Airkix. This series outlines the system to the training he put them through…

PUTTING ALL OF THIS INTO A SPECIFIC TRAINING PLAN

Committing to a 4-way team requires a great deal of dedication and sacrifice. Unfortunately many teams begin their training thinking that if they jump a lot they will advance quickly. This is not the case. Making a lot of jumps without a clear training plan will frequently result in the team feeling like they are just spinning their wheels. They are putting in all the effort but not seeing the results. They may advance in bits and pieces but the pieces don’t fit together and the points don’t add up.

Making a lot of jumps without a clear training plan will frequently result in the team feeling like they are just spinning their wheels

To make the most out of your time and energy it is essential that your team has a step by step training plan to guide you through the year. A good training plan will lay a strong foundation that builds confidence and consistency. With that foundation set you should be able to successfully layer new skills and strategies that build on to it. There should be clear and specific short term goals. Each one of these should serve as a stepping stone towards the next.

The plan presented here has worked for weekend teams and World Champions. This format that will work for any team but depending on a team's current level and prior experience the outline can be molded to meet their specific team. You may have to make small changes to customize it for your team but it is an excellent place to start and you would be well advised not to steer too far away from it.

A good training plan will lay a strong foundation that builds confidence and consistency.

Don't train all the dive pool at once; instead focus on sections, as below — by Niklas Daniel
Don't train all the dive pool at once; instead focus on sections, as below — by Niklas Daniel

STAGE ONE

First 10% of total training jumps

The primary goals during this first stage of training are:

  1. Learning to fly like a team, as if four parts of one machine.
  2. Learning to fly “on the line”, with as much power as you can control.
  3. Learning to use the 4 Cs technique of putting yourself on the line.

During this stage you will specifically begin working on:

  • Making sharp, accurate moves and complete stops in your position.
  • Eye contact and communication.
  • Awareness and anticipation.
  • Synchronizing your movements, stops, grips and breaks.
  • Taking solid grips.
  • The center flyers will work on running the jump by doing a good 2-way.
  • The outside flyers will work on reading and matching the center. Seeing their intent and moving with them.

The jumps should be sharp, predictable and not at all rushed. Do one confident move at a time. Build one confident point at a time.

During Stage One we will limit the formation dive pool to all the randoms and block 9. We will also do random jumps using only the first points of the blocks. Don’t mix them with random formations.

During the first half of Stage One do each jump twice as a Level One Stop Drill. During the second half, if the stop drill is executed well then repeat the jump on the Level Two random plan. On these jumps the team will begin to develop a strong, steady, consistent team pace. The jumps should feel calm, controlled and predictable.

Define your true best and make your first BEST OF DVD of the level two jumps. Begin the process of turning your best into your average.

STAGE TWO

The next 10% of your training jumps

The primary goals during stage two are to:

  1. Learn the first set of blocks. Train them to the point that they are strong and consistent.
  2. Maintain the calm, sharp, steady team pace while including these blocks to the limited dive pool of formations you are currently working with.
  3. Begin to understand how the different categories of jumps feel.
  • Block training: 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 11, 18, 21.
  • Do these blocks first as stage drills. Block speed is not the goal yet. The priority is for them to be technically correct and to use the midpoint pictures to learn to guarantee the close. The blocks should feel strong and consistent.
  • Begin competition jumps using a reduced dive pool made up of all the randoms and these blocks. If there is a block that is still not consistent than drill it again before including it in the competition jumps.
  • Before doing a draw with your limited dive pool first do a couple of all-random jumps to reestablish your random pace.
  • Categorize the rest of the jumps and do them in the proper order. Pay close attention to shifting gears from the blocks to randoms and randoms to blocks.

ORDER OF JUMP CATEGORIES

  • 5 point randoms.
  • 1 block and three or four randoms.
  • 2 blocks and two randoms.
  • 2 blocks and one random.
  • 3 blocks.
  • Slot switchers
  • Plan to repeat each jump during stage two.
  • Continue to update your BEST OF DVD on a daily basis. Also begin a separate BEST OF THE BLOCKS AND EXITS DVD.
  • Continue the process of turning your best into your average. Recognize when your new best performance level emerges and adjust your performance target accordingly.

The reason we are only doing a third of the blocks now is so the team has the time to become confident and consistent in each of them. Attempting to learn all the blocks at once is simply biting off more than most teams can chew. It is likely to result in the team being confident in few of the blocks and consistent in none. There will be little chance that the team will be able to maintain the strong pace it had established while at the same time learning 22 new blocks that have each been minimally trained. The jumps will be inconsistent and unpredictable. In order to build as much control and consistency as possible, teams that put themselves in this situation approach the jumps cautiously and fly under the line. This will make it nearly impossible for a team to find out what their potential “best performance” level really is. They have simply overloaded themselves with too many moves to learn at once. The team will wallow at a mediocre level when they are capable of much more. They may perform at a 10 point pace when they should be getting a feel for what a 13 point pace feels like.

By layering the block training on one third of the blocks at a time, the team has a chance to fully learn and become confident with each block move. They will be able to add these blocks to their repertoire while maintaining the established pace and they will be skydiving at the level they are truly capable of. It is then a simple process to maintain the strong team pace while adding a few more blocks at a time in the next stages of training.

STAGE THREE

Next 10% of your jumps

The primary goals during stage three are to:

  1. Learn the next set of blocks. Train them to the point that they are strong and consistent.
  2. Maintain the calm, sharp, steady team pace while including these blocks to the limited dive pool of formations you are currently working with.
  3. Continue recognizing the different pace of the various categories of jumps.

During this stage you will specifically begin working on:

  • The next series of blocks: 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 19.
  • Do these blocks first as stage drills. Block speed is not the goal yet. The priority is for them to be technically correct and to use the midpoint pictures. The blocks should feel strong and consistent.
  • Begin competition jumps using a reduced dive pool made up of all the randoms and all the blocks done during stages 2 & 3. If there is a block that is still not consistent than drill it again before including it in the competition jumps.
  • Before doing a draw with your limited dive pool first do a couple of all-random jumps to reestablish your random pace.
  • Categorize the rest of the jumps and do them in the proper order. Pay close attention to shifting gears from the blocks to randoms and randoms to blocks.
  • Plan to repeat each jump during stage three.
  • Continue to update your BEST OF DVD and your BEST OF THE BLOCKS DVD on a daily basis.
  • Continue the process of turning your best into your average. Recognize when your new best performance level emerges and adjust your aim for this new best.
By layering block training on a third of the blocks at a time the team can fully learn and become confident with each one
By layering block training on a third of the blocks at a time the team can fully learn and become confident with each one

STAGE FOUR

Next 30% of jumps

The primary goals during stage four are to:

  1. Learn the remaining blocks. Train them to the point that they are strong and consistent.
  2. Maintain the calm, strong, steady team pace while using the entire dive pool of blocks and randoms.
  3. Continue recognizing the different pace of the various categories of jumps and work to develop and use this to your advantage.
  4. Begin doing complete competition draws using all the blocks and random points.

During this stage you will specifically begin working on:

  • Finish the blocks by covering 3, 13, 15, 16, 17, 20, 22.
  • Do the new blocks first as stage drills. Block speed is not the goal yet. The priority is for them to be technically correct and to see the midpoint pictures. The blocks should feel strong and consistent.
  • Begin competition jumps using the entire dive pool of all the randoms and blocks. If there is a block that is still not consistent then drill it again before including it in the competition jumps.
  • Before doing a complete draw first do a couple of all-random jumps to reestablish the random pace.
  • Categorize the rest of the jumps and do them in the proper order. Pay close attention to shifting gears from the blocks to randoms and randoms to blocks.
  • Plan to repeat each jump during stage four.
  • Continue to update your BEST OF DVD and the BEST OF THE BLOCKS DVD on a daily basis.
  • Continue the process of turning your best into your average. Recognize when your new best performance level emerges and adjust your aim for this new best.
  • At the end of each draw evaluate the team’s strengths and weaknesses based on the different jump categories. Spend a little extra time working on the weak areas.

This is also the best time to devote extra jumps to refining your block technique. It can be quite beneficial to do block drills with only one block per jump. Dedicating a jump solely to working on a single block can do wonders (if you have enough jumps do all the blocks alone on a drill).

Dedicating a jump solely to working on a single block can do wonders

At this point your random work should have continued to improve. It has probably started to evolve from Level Two randoms to Level Three three without even planning for it. If not, it’s time. Do some all-random jumps on the level two plan. Repeat the same jumps at level three. Identify the new team pace as it is established on the Level Three jumps.

Continue doing complete draws.

At the end of each draw evaluate the team’s strength and weaknesses based on the different jump categories. Spend a little extra time working on these weak areas.

Do a few of the types of jumps you are strong at and begin another full draw.

The blocks should all be controlled, predictable, consistent and pretty darn good. But there still may be a few that you are not in love with. You don’t need to love them all. But at worst you need to have built up enough control and predictability that you know how the block is going to go. There are no surprises. It may not be as fast as you like but it’s not going to get away from you either.

there still may be a few blocks that you are not in love with. You don’t need to love them all

Every team will always have a few blocks like this. Don’t let a weak block lead you to having a weak jump. For instance, the 1 Block - 4 Random jumps might be your team’s favorite category but you don’t like Block 18. Don’t allow the inclusion of block 18 to turn a jump you would otherwise be confident in into a jump you fear.

Don’t allow the inclusion of a weak block to turn a jump you would otherwise be confident in into a jump you fear.

The only thing needed for you still to have a good jump is for Block 18 to be predictable. If it’s not predictable then during the block transition you feel lost and not in control of how it is going to close. Consequently, you are not at all ready for the random sequence. As long as the block is predictable you will know how it’s going to close. It may be slower than you would like but you are not panicking during the transition. You have it under control so you can stay calm, anticipate a predictable close and are ready to immediately shift gears into the random series.

STAGE FIVE

Next 10% of jumps

The team is sharp, consistent, confident and predictable.

The primary goal of stage five is:

  1. To push the speed. Review chapter on “making your best better”.

During this stage you will:

  • Examine specific areas where the team can pick up time. It could be in key speed, breaking exits quicker, sharpening weaker blocks or adding power to good blocks that could still be faster. There may be particular categories of jumps that you can squeeze more out of, or all of the above.
  • Increase your random pace and key speed by doing Level Four sprint drills.
  • On block drills add power to your starts. Minimize or even completely eliminate the stages of the blocks. Trust that you will see what you need and blast right through the mid point picture.
  • Start breaking exits earlier than you previously thought was the correct time.
  • Pick up the key speed by demanding everyone to be ready sooner.

During this level all the parts you are training will become faster. But the scores won’t show it. The jumps will at times be much more erratic and less consistent. Your scores are likely to go down. Continue to push.

Continue to update your BEST OF DVD and the BEST OF THE BLOCKS DVD on a daily basis. Clearly define your new best and the new team pace you expect.

By the end of Stage 5, the team has clearly defined its new best and the new team pace — by Niklas Daniel
By the end of Stage 5, the team has clearly defined its new best and the new team pace — by Niklas Daniel

STAGE SIX

Next 10% of jumps

The primary goal of stage six is to:

  1. Calm it down and reestablish consistency. Bring your performance back down to the line.

In the speed drills you will have trained yourselves to be more comfortable at the new speed.

  • Don’t push the speed anymore.
  • Put your focus back on the 4 Cs. Let your freefall communication dictate the speed. Don’t allow the speed to dictate what is left of your communication.
  • Remember that the faster you go, the calmer you need to be. The correct level of calmness is calmer than it was at stage five.
  • Do full competition draws.
  • Start with a couple of all random jumps to reestablish the random pace you want.
  • Break the rest of the jumps into the appropriate categories and do them in that order.
  • If the jumps feel calm enough and back on the line, it won’t be necessary to repeat them. But after all the speed drills you may still be over the line and need to repeat them in order to calm it down to where you want it to be.
  • Continue to update your BEST OF DVD and the BEST OF THE BLOCKS DVD on a daily basis.
  • At the end of each draw evaluate the team’s strength and weaknesses based on the different jump categories. Spend a little extra time working on these weak areas.
  • Do a few of the types of jumps you are strong at and begin another full draw.

STAGE SEVEN

Next 10% of jumps

The team has once again become calm, sharp, consistent, confident and predictable. The primary goal of stage seven is:

  1. To push the speed again. Review chapter on “making your best better”.

What now?

  • Examine specific areas where the team can pick up time.
  • Be very selective. You are nearing the finish line of your training program. Most of the blocks and categories of jumps should be very strong. Use this stage primarily to invest extra time into any areas that are less than up to par.
  • Continue doing complete draws where you push the speed to the new level you have decided on.
  • At the end of each draw evaluate the team’s strength and weaknesses based on the different jump categories. Spend a little extra time working on these weak areas.
  • Do a few of the types of jumps you are strong at and begin another full draw.
  • Continue to update your BEST OF DVD and the BEST OF THE BLOCKS DVD on a daily basis.

STAGE EIGHT

Last 10% of jumps

Meet preparation

Throughout the entire training season we are constantly going through a process of establishing what our “best” is, turning our best into our average, and taking our best to a new level, sometimes pushing it to a new level. In doing so, we have become confident in our process and ability to perform at our predefined “best” performance level whenever we choose.

We make a final decision that this is how we are going to fly at the meet. There will be no attempt to push it any further and we will not accept any less.

In preparation for the premier competition we again define our best and make it into our average. But this time we lock it in right there. We make a final decision that this is how we are going to fly at the meet. There will be no attempt to push it any further and we will not accept any less. We spend the last 10% of our training jumps fine tuning and dialing in this speed. We become even more consistent and confident in performing at the level we have now chosen than ever before.

  • Do complete draws without repeating any of the jumps.
  • Make all jumps from competition exit altitude.
  • Do competition day simulations.
  • Do the draw in a random order. Don’t order the jumps by category.
  • At the completion of each draw, review the jumps and recognize any strong or weak areas or categories. Do not do drills to sharpen them up. Recognize the team needs to be sharper on a particular type of jump and make it happen in the next draw.
  • When reviewing the jumps start practicing with a “competition debrief plan.” During competition you will only debrief the 4 Cs and if the team was on the line or not. Nothing technical should be mentioned.

We have used the training process to push ourselves to the highest level we could possibly reach. At each stage we have practiced the skill of performing our best and that is the same skill we will utilize now in the final stage. We know exactly what our best is. We know what we do to make it happen and we have proven that we can deliver our best performance whenever we decide to.

Our mission is clear. We have trained well and the results are nearly guaranteed. An amazing thing happens when we set such a clear competitive goal for ourselves. We stop worrying about placements and medals. They become very secondary.

by Lesley Gale
by Lesley Gale

We enter competition relaxed and confident knowing that when we calm our minds, focus in the moment and clear our heads of all distractions our instincts will take over, and our instincts rock. We can sit back now because we have done the hard work in training. We are proud of what we can do and we dare anyone to try and beat it.

The goal in competition is to perform at our best, to be at the top of our game. If you followed this plan all of your training has perfectly prepared your team for this moment of competition.

More Magic From Dan

Previous Article (18): Debriefing Preparation and dirt diving

This is the Final Article in Dan's series. See them all here

Much of this series of articles is adapted from Dan's book, Above All Else – available from Square One HERE or Amazon HERE

All photos show Perris Fury, above Skydive Perris, by Niklas Daniel

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