Pilot in Command – Take Control!
Flying a parachute confidently is far safer than being timid...
I've had coaching in lots of different tunnels and discovered that there is a world between excellent and bad coaching. That's why I am writing about this subject.
I am a Pro indoor skydiver. I have never jumped from a plane. I have flown both under IBA/IFLY regime as well as the European “Tunnel instructor"regime. My flight time is about 17 hours. I have flown in 11 tunnels world wide, all 3 tunnels in Australia, Singapore, Dubai, and various tunnels in 4 European countries
No tunnel is the same and they all have their own character. Some are turbulent (often the older tunnels) Some are safe because they diverge from the bottom net and have a speed that decreases with increased height. Other tunnels are sensitive, that means that when you blink with your eyes downward, you will rocket up and giving the impression that you are out of control, which you are not.
Other tunnels are overpowered, which might be fun for the top athletes but not for for the average sport flyer. But of course there are also tunnels which have a very friendly smooth wall to wall airflow.
Almost all tunnels have a turbulent gap around the entrance but there are differences. It will be good when tunnel manufacturers do some research on this subject. Be aware of that and never jump into a new tunnel as you are used to in your home tunnel. Better walk in. Always be prepared that you have take do a few steps back when flying in a new tunnel. You must get familiarized before you can proceed to improve your skills.
I had coaching in the Australia, Dubai and 3 Countries in Europe. There are two international organisations controlling the training of instructors, and coaches; IBA, the International Bodyflight Association has its origin in America but is covering worldwide and Tunnel Instructor, which is the European equivalent, but only working in the European theater. Both have about the same guidelines although the Tunnel Instructor organisation seems to be controlling the training of instructors only. For pro flyers it is difficult to find information and or an online logbook.
The IBA however has a very good logbook system with a dashboard and flyer chart, for flyers. Coaches can sign off the skills learned and if you are flying in a new tunnel or when you get coaching from a new coach, you can show them your dashboard from which they have a good impression of your skills. IBA system is also followed by non iFLY tunnels, such as INFLIGHT Dubai. For reasons unknown to me the two organisation do not seem to like each other.
The best coaching I received was with Inflight Dubai with Jennie. Her approach of coaching made this my standard for coaching.
1. Coaching should always be one to one. Not in a group where the coach has to share his attention with multiple flyers.
2. There should be a proper intake where the coach checks for instance the IBA logbook and dashboard of the trainee, looks at recent videos to get an impression of the the level of the trainee.
3. After that the trainee discusses what skill(s) he/she wants to learn and a plan is made for the upcoming coaching session(s)
4. During the coaching session and if the coach sees the trainee doing something wrong, he or she does not start jumping around and making unclear moves but draws the attention of the trainee, stops him and order him to fly beside him. Than he clearly shows how the trainee is doing wrong, followed by a clear demonstration how it should be done.
5. Between the flights, the video can be studied togeter with the coach or if that belongs to the possibilities, the tunnel could be slowed down to allow coach and trainee discuss the progress or faults and how to improve.
6. After the coaching session, should be debriefing, discussion about the progress and following improvements. A review of the videos and copying the videos to the trainees USB Stick
7. Not necessary but very useful, a review about the training session with comments and future advise sent by email to the trainee.
8. If coaching with the same coach would take place on a regular basis, the coach should keep records of the trainee's progress.
The purpose of coaching should be to learn or to improve new skills in a proper way and not to do a lot of skills in shortest time possible and cover skills you did not want to learn. Coaching should not be a demonstration of the capabilities of the coach but training on the skill by the trainee. I had a good coach who was pushing me to speed up, so that I could do as much rehearsals of the skill to learn within the session time. A coach who is causing turbulence near you and who is giving unclear signals when you cannot see them, and only asking on the debriefing “any questions?“, is not a good coach. I have met instructors having all the capabilities to be an excellent coach but who were not interested to become one. That's a pity.
Coaching, the financial part, is often a matter between coach and trainee. Hands off for the tunnel operators. World wide the tariff for coaching is approximately about same, € 187,50 p/hr. or the equivalent in other currencies – a lot of money for which you may expect quality.
With IFLY however coaching is controlled by IFLY and their tariff is slightly higher than above but they some times have special offers where you get free coaching when buying a complete hour of flight time.
Check about your potential new coach. With IBA it is very easy to check out the skills of the coach. With “Tunnel instructor” it is more difficult to find information about the coach. Be aware that there are also self proclaimed coaches who have no tunnel authorisation or qualifications except for their skydivers licence, and operating outside the standards of both IBA and Tunnel Instructor. Often these are “experienced” big mouth skydivers of whom the quality of coaching is disputable. They seem to be interested in collecting your money only.
Last remark, if you are looking for a personal coach, then first there should be a match between trainee and coach, someone who you can trust, almost a close friend and whom you could call at any time if you suddenly have a question and whose interest is to learn and improve your skills.
Have a nice indoor flight!