Getting on a TEAM

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Have you ever arrived on a DZ and felt like everyone else is part of a group and there isn’t a slot for you? Or that everyone else seems more experienced? I know I have!

Getting on any team is the first step to being on a National team – Image, by Wind Games, shows NFTO – Anna Hicks, author Julia Swallow, Sian Stokes & Vana Parker

I am also asked by lots of people when do they know when they are experienced enough to be on a team, and what they can do to get themselves on a team.

So, here is some advice to help you climb up what sometimes feels like a very slippery ladder!

Promote yourself!

Quite often, the reason why we may not be in a team is because people don’t know we want to be on one. People will make assumptions that it isn’t for you, so they don’t think of asking you. Sometimes, we may be scared of letting people know, in case we still don’t get asked, or even worse, turned down.

When you are on the team circuit and you lose a member of your team, when you start to look around it is often quite a challenge to find a new person. Frustratingly for all parties, there may be teams on your local drop zone looking for a new member and you were not aware they were looking, and equally, they were not aware you were an option.

By letting people know your goals and desires, it puts you in a good position for people to consider you when there is a slot available. There are many forums to let people know what your aspirations are. Social networking sites such as Facebook and dropzone.com are great, along with local dropzone websites. A particular favorite of mine is in the bar when you get the chance to chat over a few beers!

Confidence is appealing, and arrogance is unattractive, and it can sometimes be a fine line

Confidence is appealing, and arrogance is unattractive, and it can sometimes be a fine line between the two. It can be dangerous to oversell yourself, and tell people how amazing you are and how they would be lost without you. Be careful not to show off, or exaggerate your talents. But showing confidence through your enthusiasm and commitment goes a long way for teams looking for new members. It has often been said that a team is better off with a new, less experienced, more motivated person, than a experienced person that’s perhaps not quite as passionate about the work that needs to be put into building up the team.

Making mistakes and learning together is all part of the journey
Image shows NFTO training at Skydive Algarve

Prepare yourself

In the meantime there is so much you can do to increase your chances of getting on a team.

4-way Randoms

Swot the dive pool

Firstly, I recommend that you learn the dive pool within the discipline and category you would like to join. If people see that you have put some effort into improving your knowledge, they will be impressed with this, and you will be putting yourself more in line when you join a group.

Once you have learnt what the shapes are called, then learn the letters (for the randoms) and numbers (for the blocks). If there is potential that you will be joining a team, once you are there the dirt dives etc are a lot quicker when people know the letters and numbers.

For dive pools, see: IPC FS Rules

Watch other teams and learn
Image shows NFTO training over Algarve, by Simon Brentford

Watch and learn

Watch videos of teams that you aspire to be on, and visualize yourself being on that kind of team. Through positive affirmations you will be amazed at what can actually be achieved!

Train yourself

Brush up on your individual flying skills in the tunnel and in the air. Never underestimate the power of one on one training and quality coaching, it will pay dividends. Once you are on a team you won’t be able to focus so much on your individual flying skills, so make the most of it now.

Join a skills camp

There are many skills events run worldwide where all abilities are welcome and they are a great way to increase your experience and profile. These will be full of like-minded people wanting to progress, and you never know, you may form a team out of one of them. Airspeed run regular skills camps at Skydive Arizona, Eloy; the Golden Knights and SDC Rhythm run skills camps at Paraclete wind tunnel; look around to see what’s on offer and what you like the look of.

Author Julia Swallow, by Rob Lloyd

When am I experienced enough?

Providing you have basic flying skills then you are experienced enough to join a team. Of course, if you are still learning how to complete a few points then Airspeed is not yet the team for you, but you don’t have to be a world class FS jumper before you get onto a team. In 4-way there are 4 categories, and the beauty of the Rookie and A class category, is that it is in place to encourage people to join a team as soon as possible. As long as you are honest about your current experience, along with what you are willing to put in to improve then there is no reason why you should wait any longer before you start to put the feelers out.

believe in yourself and know that you deserve to be on a team like anyone else

Once you are on the team, enjoy the experience!
Image shows NFTO training at Skydive Algarve, by Simon Brentford

When teams look for members, not only are they looking at experience and ability, but they are also looking at the person’s personality, character and desire. These areas are most often more important than what is written in someone’s logbook. After all, it’s relatively easy to improve your flying skills, but more of a challenge to improve someone’s teamwork skills. So, don’t be put off if you still feel like a young flyer, it’s the person that you are on the ground that is just as important, if not more so.

So, believe in yourself and know that you deserve to be on a team like anyone else and that you are going to do everything you can to make it happen. There are lots of opportunities out there, so let people know you want to be involved. Once you are on the team, enjoy the experience!

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Meet: Julia Swallow

Julia Swallow (or Julia ‘Foxy’ Foxwell as she made her name in the skydiving world) is an 8 times British FS Champion and a World Champion in female 4-way. She has been on 4-way teams Airkix, Satori and is now on NFTO, the UK ladies team. She has competed many times on the world stage in the British team, for 4-way female, 4-way Open and 8-way. She also has a number of British and World Records in large formations as well as 4-way records.

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