Dan'sMagic 9: Understanding the Game
4-way competition explained from first principles...
Many talented amateur skydivers face the same conundrum - how can they approach the averages of the professional teams, when their training time is inevitably limited to holidays and weekends? Hayabusa has not always been a professional, full-time team sponsored by the Belgian Army. In the beginning Hayabusa attained a 20+ average as a weekend team. Find out how to win your battles as a weekend warrior…
Many times it happens that people step up to us and ask what the secret is of Hayabusa. How did we gain a 20+ average with a small amount of jumps compared to professional teams? I guess one of the most important reasons is that we found a way to get a high efficiency out of our jumps. If you can't train very much, then being very efficient is the only way to go into battle with those who can!
Who never dreamed about having a kick-ass team?! Flying like those guys you see on DVDs, spinning the daylight out of their turns, making those incredible jumps and having fun all the way! Unfortunately it ain’t that simple, but still it’s good to set yourself high goals, just make sure they stay realistic!
When forming a new team it is very helpful to find someone you have a good natural feeling with. They don’t need to be necessarily already your friend, but hopefully they will become one! If you’re putting yourself with a person that you already don’t like, ask yourself if this is a smart thing to do, because you’ll spend a lot of time together, and not just during the happy parts!
Once you have your future team in mind, organise a meeting and start with talking about everyone’s expectations. Then you can get an idea if this team is worth trying, or you may realise that you don’t have a chance to achieve your goals.
One of the first things to become successful is that from the start you all should have the same goals. Here are some examples of what to talk about:
We can split training into two areas, one part that costs a lot of money and the other part that just costs time
The answers to these questions can only be filled in by yourself. But by comparing the answers to the ones of your teammates, you can have an idea if you can be successful. And success is not only measured by numbers of medals!
We can split training into two areas, one part that costs a lot of money and the other part that just costs time. With Hayabusa we invested as much as we could in both.
Concerning the part that doesn’t cost money you can use DVDs, internet, magazines and everything else that can possibly provide you with more knowledge and understanding of skydiving. And then compare it to yourselves to see what you can learn. With video look at the individual moves of all slots as well as the moves from their piece partners. Use it to learn and motivate yourself and your team to become better skydivers.
Only by hard work, focus and determination will you achieve your dreams. If you are a weekend team with high ambitions, there ain’t much time for fooling around.
Also spend a lot of time on the creepers, to get familiar with your slots and try to improve random and block work. It’s important that everybody in the team tries to think how you can fly more efficiently. Travel less distance, make better axes, get a grip plan, train communication, respect keys, train memory and get a rhythm while you’re rolling the dirt-dive. The same applies for training exits at the mock-up. Compare your exits with others and use the elements that can improve your own. Really work as a team and don’t let the same person always come up with the ideas.
The other part of training does cost money and we shouldn’t be throwing that away. We must make sure that before we board, everybody knows exactly what to do during the jump. This means that we need to spend enough time on the creepers and at the mock-up. There shouldn’t be any questions left because, if we’re out there in freefall, we push ourself and our teammates 100%!
After the skydive, go debrief! Watch the jump very carefully and compare it to what you have briefed and all the moves from yourself and the team. Try to find errors and room for improvements. Feel free to give comment but always in a stimulating way, and start first with yourself! Be open-minded towards comments from others and don’t hide behind excuses.
Only by hard work, focus and determination will you achieve your dreams. If you are a weekend team with high ambitions, there ain’t much time for fooling around. We need to try to get the maximum out of every skydive. While others will do fun jumps at the end of a tiring day, you’ll be giving that last energy to your training. But we are weekend jumpers, limited with time and money, so this is the only option we have. We must try to train with more efficiency than professional teams to compensate for their advantages.
Basically it’s the same when you head off to the wind tunnel. Always make sure you’re well prepared. Make a draw that will benefit your needs. The tunnel is a great tool to improve your individual skills and those of the team. Of course we can’t train the exit, sub-terminal speed and the references around us like skydiving. But financially it is quite interesting and we can train there any time with great efficiency.
I recommend to work with a coach. Your coach will help you with getting the puzzle right, and should be a time-saver, meaning that with his knowledge you will save loads of time and money finding out stuff that he already knows. Of course it’s an investment that costs a lot of money if you look at it on a daily basis, but over a long period it should save you time and money and your learning curve should be going up steeply!
But be aware that not all coaches will fit into your team style. Find a coach you feel confident with. He or she should be able to teach in a way that benefits the whole team and be patient as well. If they are too focussed on the money, you’re dealing with the wrong guy.
When you work with a coach, be open-minded for new ideas, and try them out. Give it a shot and see what works for you and what doesn’t. Use the elements that are good and add them into your team continuity plan.
I guess it’s obvious that not all weekend teams will gain a 20+ average even if they train very efficiently. It also takes enough talent and luck to reach this level. The hardest part will be to get the right people together with the talent and motivation and who can work as one unit. But by trying as hard as you can, you’ll find yourself flying much further than your current ability! Enthusiasm and determination are the keys to success, just as with any other sport. Aim for higher goals when you reach the first! Keep focussed on your target and get inspiration from others! Work as a team; support and stimulate each other instead of being jealous. Become a ‘weekend warrior’ and enjoy it as much as possible!
I wish you good luck with your kick-ass team!
Originally published in the BPA journal, April 2007