It’s natural to look at the grip you’re taking next – but it’s far more effective to look at your clone for perfect positioning…
There are several disciplines experienced skydivers practice that make formation skydives successful. One of the most important is called cross-referencing.
This is the positioning yourself relative to someone across your formation instead of focusing on the person with whom you share grips. This article will discuss several reasons why this technique is so effective. After understanding these reasons, it will be easy to explain how to apply this technique to your jumps.
Position and Angles
When we discuss cross referencing, the first thing we must mention is that a person can be in many positions even though they have the same grip.
Take a look at these 2-way open accordions:
All of these share the same grips, so they are technically the same formation. If you are just doing a 2-way, no problem. But if you start adding more people, you can see how this becomes complicated. It is easy to see which of the 4-ways below would be more successful:
If you are just looking at the grip, or even the person you are gripping, you may not be aware of what angle your body is flying at. By looking across the formation you can see where you fit into the big scheme.
It is possible to build a stable formation between two people with just a few inches of level difference. But across a larger formation, the cumulative effects of this minor level difference can end up being several feet. This can lead to imploding formations – funnels!
The answer to this dilemma is again cross-referencing. By looking across the whole formation, you can match levels with everybody, including the skydiver on the opposite end.
Another great reason to cross reference is to increase your awareness of important events. If you are looking at your clone on the opposite end, you will clearly also see the center. You will know if there has been a key, someone is brainlocking, or an adjustment needs to be made. By knowing sooner that these types of events are happening, you will react faster, even subconsciously.
How to Cross Reference
Find Your Clone
Now that we have discussed all the great reasons to cross reference, we can examine how it is done. Usually the easiest way to cross reference is to find your clone on the opposite end of the formation. This is the person who is mirroring your position. You should make eye contact with this person if possible, and set your position off this person – but also with a awareness of what the center is doing.
In the examples below, the blue shaded flyers should use each other for their cross-referencing.
There are instances where there are an odd number of skydivers in a formation or the formation is unsymmetrical. In these cases, you can use a grip line to set up off of, or somebody close to this grip line.
The dark blue skydiver should use the grip point as his set-up. By setting off of this point, he will be aware of the light blue jumpers.
In the Center
The examples we have provided so far assume that you are on the very outside of the formation. As you get close to the center, your clone may not be on the outside. The center two people might reference each other.
To make a straight 8-way accordion (or longer), reference with the next but one person parallel to you.
Sometimes your clone is obscured by many bodies. You should still make an effort to see that far across the formation – even if it is just a foot that you can see. However, you can also use a closer person as a guide.
Go Try It!
Cross referencing will help you fly in the right position, maintain levels, and be aware of important changes in your jumps. Practice positioning yourself relative to the right person in a formation and increase your success. This simple habit will have you rocking your jumps!
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