The best exercises to train the “be static” skill…
Last week’s article looked at why a static condition is the number 1 skill to train as a 4-way jumper. Max Alberdi summarised the most important points as:
- a sound and comfortable “neutral (advanced) box” body position
- awareness and control of the breathing
- awareness of center of mass in the playing field, which includes fall rate
- responsive flying skills on every axis
- anticipation of next personal move and the formation, including memorization
- awareness and execution of grip management plan, including keys
- a wide view of what is going on around including eye contact and checking of cross references.
Now we look at some exercises to train this skill to become second nature…
How can I work on my static skills?
Every item of the above list can be improved to enforce your static skills in a classic W-P-W ( Whole Part Whole) approach. I will share some exercises that could help in doing that. For this purpose the windtunnel is an essential training tool but there are also many exercises that can be practiced in freefall or just laying on your couch at home.
Exercise 1, Stability Drills – Wind tunnel exercise
Some very effective exercises to train stability are made in the wind tunnel. The student places himself in the center of the flying camera in his comfortable box (standard or advanced) position, about 1 meter above the net. The coach, whenever possible keeping eye contact, flies around and very close to the student causing burbles or quickly slides under him. The target of the student is to keep his/her center of mass (belly) steady in the original place using all the flying techniques he/she knows. In a second stage of the exercise the coach grabs and pull the student or pushes him in different directions and the student has to react to keep the center of mass in place.
There is a similar exercise in the training to become a Spotter where the student has to stay steady with his feet in the center of the tunnel and the coach tries to make him unsteady.
Common situations in belly flying are that the student mistakes what arm or leg to use for compensating for an external force, or is not symmetrical in doing a movement. This happens frequently in sideslides when the arm is extended out 45° toward the leg and not toward the head causing the flyer to move forward. The windtunnel environment, some inputs after each flying session and a good video debrief will easily correct the problem.
Exercise 2, Breathing Control – Windtunnel and Freefall
Breathing control and breathing relaxation techniques are a powerful tool to enhance skydiving performances. You can find how to execute some of these techniques correctly in Skydive University manuals or elsewhere on line (see Matt Davidson’s article, Controlling your Breathing). Please do not mistake ‘breath control’ as just taking some deep breaths here and there. Breathing control techniques are very powerful for your relaxation, your memorization and your stability. For example, when you have a jump that because of your slot could seem ‘too still or boring’, try to insert breaths in your dirtdive between keys, maybe linking them in your mind with a specific random in the dive or a change of eye contact. This will help you to make breathing control more automatic in your dive, to create a sort of personal inner rhythm of the jump that helps you to be ahead of the skydive and more in control.
Exercise 3, Visualization Exercises: the Sphere – Everywhere
Many qualified people have already talked about the importance of visualization and there are many good books and articles about the correct techniques. The question is, what do you visualize about being static? Well, I remember in the classical instructional video 499 by Airspeed there were test crash dummies flyers showing the blocks with a colored sphere in their center of mass. Use that!
Close your eyes (not now but in a couple of minutes maybe), take deep breaths and let’s try to visualize a sphere of about 10-15 centimeters, like a big orange or a little melon. Now, imagine that it is perfect, illuminated and perfectly placed in your center of mass (i.e center of stability). During your mental dirtdives focus on that sphere and keep it always where it has to be. If you have for example a sequence as a point slot in 4-way like B-E-F the sphere should stay still, in the same place and same height during visualization, whereas if you have maybe a block like 5 the sphere should move just a little up and then down.
What’s next after Static ?
Once you reach a good or super-static position you can keep working on your flying skills again and again. Plus of course, on every formation skydiving skill; anticipation, axis, block technique, body flexibility and fitness, breathing control, budgeting, exits, inner balance, grip management, memorization, random speed drills, team communication, visualization and more. Our community is full of good flyers, champions and world-class coaches out there to take inspiration from!
Have fun, skydive safe, tunnel hard… but for now …
Be Static my friends!