Don't be a DICK!
What not to do on the dropzone...
When you form a team, you will make many decisions which include the design of a training day. Crafting the perfect day is a custom experience since each team’s needs, situation, and experience level vary widely. Even a throw-together team meeting for a single weekend you will face questions about pace, meet time, and how long you will be jumping. This article will you give you a starting place for a team conversation.
Just like a great story, each training day has a beginning, middle, and an end. While the beginning of your training day seems like it should be simple, making some consistent group decisions before you start your season will save a lot of repetitive conversations and misunderstandings later.
This is the first in a three-part series to plan your training days and cut the cloth according to you team dynamics. This makes for efficiency, harmony and the best value for your dollar. Part 1, the Beginning…
Your group will need to decide when to start skydiving. Most formation skydiving teams simply choose to start jumping at the beginning of the day, ideally being on the first load available at your dropzone. This is a great strategy since most teams are trying to get a reasonable length day while leaving time for rest and maybe beer in the evening. When in doubt, be on the first load!
When in doubt, be on the first load!
There are exceptions though, if some teammates have a several hour drive to the dropzone on the first morning consider pushing the start time later. It might be hard to preform your best all day when you have to wake up at 2:30am for a 7:00am meet time. Local weather and seasons are a factor too. If it is Perris in the summer, absolutely try to start jumping as early as possible to avoid the worst of the heat. If it is the late fall at Skydive Chicago, consider a warmer start slightly later in the day. Avoiding the stress of extreme temperatures is obviously more comfortable and also allows the team to focus more effectively on the jumps.
Once you have settled on the time first take off will be, work backwards to decide when to meet. Spend a few minutes discussing what a perfect morning will look like for your team. Remember the guide below is a suggestion. You can absolutely stray off the beaten path as long you spend time considering what works for your group. Want to do a boot camp workout for 60 minutes before training? Rock on. Prefer to dirt dive at Starbucks? Go for it. Just start with a plan everybody likes and will get you to that first load ready to rip.
Want to do a boot camp workout for 60 minutes before training? Rock on... Prefer to dirt dive at Starbucks? Go for it!
After the team practices their ideal morning routine, you might be able to tidy things up for efficiency. Having an abbreviated version is useful if you are aiming for a 7:00am takeoff or want to tighten things up in case that morning cloud forecast is right. Just be sure you are not skipping vital elements like goal setting.
Before any skydiving happens, gear management must happen. I strongly suggest you do this first. Not only is it important to thoroughly check your gear, this gives the team more time to deal with any issues. It’s difficult to resolve missing and broken equipment issues on a 5 minute call. Plan enough time for everyone to move, manage, and manipulate all of their stuff.
Many teams enjoy a short stretching/workout routine in the morning. This is a nice way to get the group synced up and get things moving (although I prefer to exercise on my own in the morning like we do on Rhythm). If your group chooses to do so, make sure the routine is not stretching cold muscles. Decide how long to spend and be sure someone keeps an eye on the clock to avoid overruns. If you elect to avoid the stretch, make sure you plan a little time for morning pleasantries and coffee.
One of the most important orders of business for the day should be goal setting and setting a daily focus. Having a clear objective that everyone understands is crucial to effective training. If you ignore everything else in this article, keep this. Knowing what you are trying to do increases the odds of accomplishing good things tremendously.
If you have a coach, budget time for the coach to explain what the strategy and plan is for the day. If you are on your own, the group should articulate what you are emphasizing. Many teams also have members set individual goals which can be related to the overriding team goal or perhaps just a personal work-on.
Once your team goals are established, it is time to prepare the first skydives. Your normal walking, talking, creeping preparation process should be used here. After the jumps are walked, there might be a little extra time before the first call. If you have done everything listed so far, you might enjoy a little bonus time before gearing up.
The concept of ‘ready to go’ varies dramatically between individuals
I have one last tip on team dynamics and the beginning of your training day. The concept of ‘ready to go’ varies dramatically between individuals. When I coach, I notice most of this gap happens in the getting gear stage. Some people rock in and can have all their toys ready and be standing ready to creep in three minutes flat. Others are more discombobulated and need time to find their keys, run back to the car for their weight belt, use the restroom, find their checkbook, pay manifest, call work, check in on facebook, decide add a layer of underarmour, get more coffee, talk about the snacks they brought, use the restroom again, and check their gear, and then they are ready to rock.
To cope with this, I clearly instruct teams to do all their checks and be ready to creep (or stretch or first team activity) at a particular time. People then can take responsibility for their own pace and show up 20 minutes early or 5 minutes early depending on their needs. No one is waiting impatiently, no one is rushed.
• Plan to be on the first load available unless you have a smart reason
• Get your gear ready first
• Talking about the daily goal and plan is not optional
• Accommodate different time needs by creating a clear ‘meet with your gear ready to go’ time
Next week’s article
Most photos show Perris Moxie, taken at Skydive Perris