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One day it will happen to all of us, one of your team members will leave. Other commitments take precedence in his or her life. The team that you love so much seems to fall apart, leaving a gap that’s not easy to fill.

In situations like this, the team have to think very carefully about who can fill up the empty slot, so there will be a positive growth and a bright future ahead.

  • How do you know how to pick the right person?
  • Who will give you the best chance to improve?
  • How do you guide the new team member?

Setting goals is possibly the most important ingredient to success

Setting Goals

Before wondering who could take over the empty slot, the rest of the team have to start with themselves. The first thing to do is set your goals for the next period. Setting goals is possibly the most important ingredient to success.

There are basically three different types of goals: long, medium, and short term. The long-term goal is where you need to start; everything else will fall into place behind this. You need to understand what you want, look at what you are willing to sacrifice, and decide on a long-range goal. Once you determined the team goals, you can begin your search for a new teammate. You will have a list of qualifications such as someone who:-

  • you like
  • agrees on the same long, medium & short-term goals
  • is willing to commit to the same degree
  • has the money and the time
  • has the ability to become as good as you, or better
  • has congruent values

Remember: you do not necessarily need teammates who have all the same goals. You need teammates who can agree on a common goal! This common goal is the key to all teams.

Take your Time

Finding your new team member is easier said than done but don’t expect it to be a walk in the park. In general it is hard to find a person that fits well into your team. Never take hasty decisions because you can’t find one right away! It is an important step and sometimes you just have to be patient. There are many good teams that fell apart after changing a team member and they all had their reasons. If you want to keep on pushing, learning and increasing your team’s performance, you simply have to take the time to choose the most ideal person available. This person is not always the best skydiver, rather the person with the best overall package.

Contributions to the Team

We all have the tendency to search for the best technical skydiver around and place the personal aspects on the side. For good team management you need so much more then just good skydivers jumping together. The better you guys can work as a team in all areas, the stronger your foundation is for peak performance!

We all give out this good advice but still, if we look into the mirror, can we say that we follow it ourselves?

Key Elements

I found out that the next subjects are the key elements to keep the team on the right track. The funny thing is that everybody knows this already, but do we walk the walk? We all give out this good advice but still, if we look into the mirror, can we say that we follow it ourselves? And this is what we all need to do, if we want to achieve our dreams. So look at the subjects below and ask yourself the question, whether your ‘new guy’ can make it happen.

Finding your new teammate is easier said than done but don't expect a walk in the park!

Team Player

Subjects like grips, angles and other technical stuff are of course important to winning but the most important requirement of succeeding in a team environment is being a team player! Make sure that you find a person who can work together with you and your team. An egotist or over-individualist will always cause problems within the team sooner or later.


Without good communication the team will achieve nothing. Most of us have the ability to communicate in a decent, respectful and mature way. For those who have difficulties with this, it’s something that can be learned and improved within the team. For example, people who are shy or have difficulties in communicating but are willing to work on it, should be helped. You can encourage them by listening to what they have to say and help in giving them confidence. On the other hand, for people with an attitude problem, if they think they know it all, it’s always hard to communicate within a group. It’s difficult to convince them of any other opinions, apart from their own. Sometimes they can be forced to do things in the team’s interest but it shouldn’t have to work like this. I suggest that you don’t pick this type of person for your team because in the end they will always cause problems.

There will always be a doubt between taking a young, talented skydiver with probably not much experience, or an old fox


Try to find people with the same degree of motivation. This saves a lot of frustration and discussions. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you are willing to sacrifice, if everyone is prepared to put as much effort in as each other, it will be fine!


There will always be a doubt between taking a young, talented skydiver with probably not much experience, or an old fox with experience and knowledge. The best choice is depending what your long-term goals are and the needs of your team. Compare their entire personal package and contributions to the team and see which one is the most valuable acquisition for your team.

Organize tryouts  – jumping with your candidates will tell more than a thousand words


After checking your list of qualifications you should have a good idea of who to ask for your new team. If you’re lucky you will have several people on your list. To give a fair chance to them and your teammates, I suggest organising tryouts. In this way you can get a feeling with all the candidates. During the tryouts you also can see their body language in freefall. You can test their capability for slot-switchers. Jumping with them will tell you more then a thousand words.


Okay, so you did your research about the candidates, talked about the good and bad things, did the tryouts and you made your choice. Speak up loud why you believe in ‘your guy’ and don’t let anybody else affect your opinion! If the rest of your team does the same, look at the result. Probably you already picked the same person, if not, you need to spend extra time with the people until you all agree. It’s important that the team should try to make an objective decision and that everybody feels good with the end result! Only then you can make a fresh start with tons of motivation and inspiration!

What Slots?

This subject is always a hard one. Does everybody keep the current slots, or should you make a change? In general people are very territorial when it comes to defending their own slot. Sometimes it’s just because people like their own slot so much. Or they can be afraid of learning something new. People also like to believe that their slot is more ‘important’ than the others. I think they are all equally so, but with their own skills and flying characteristics. Each slot gives you something extra that makes you a better skydiver.

People also like to believe that their slot is more 'important' than the others.

It’s obvious that the team’s best interests come first. Everybody should give their preference about a slot and see what kind of options you have. There should be room for trying different slots and with several piece partners if needed. Take the time you need to get the best set-up for the whole team. At the end you should have everybody in their best slots, the most suitable for his/her flying style and capability and with the best possible piece-partner combination. Taking the time to find the best setup will give you a high payoff at the end!

Everyone Matters

First and foremost is that everyone on the team matters, also the new guy! Listen to his/her ideas, even if he/she is less experienced. Whether you agree with someone’s opinion or not, it’s important that they be heard. Make sure that your new teammate feels equally involved and respected as everyone else. It’s the team’s job to make the new guy feel at home. The sooner everyone feels good, the sooner the team will perform well! Correct them when they’re wrong in a positive way, compliment them if they are right! Try to stimulate them and grow as a team. If they look good, you look good!


We have to remind ourselves that Rome wasn’t built in a day, meaning that it takes time to get a rock solid, hard-core skydiving machine! Jumping in a team is working like a team. If you replace one or more persons, it’s out of balance and it takes time to recover. It’s perfectly normal that you have to take a step back before moving forward again. You can help by giving the new guy a fair chance and don’t put too much weight on their shoulders in the beginning. Everybody is different, has their own personalities and behaves in their own way in different situations. Give them some time to prove themselves, even if in the beginning you think it isn’t the right way. Of course you can give your opinion, or tell them how you deal with certain situations. But at the end, we all need to find our own ways to achieve our goals.

Get Going!

So now that’s all said and done, it’s show time! My advice for the incoming guys is to get as much information from your team as you can get. Know their continuity plan, exits, blocks and randoms. Talk about how to brief and debrief. Visualise, watch and analyse videos. Use creepers to save time and money. Know the team preparations before and during competitions. And give it your best shot! I wish you good luck with your new team!

For principles to make the best of your team, check Roy Janssen’s article ”The Call of Competition’

You could consider sticking with your existing teammate, advantages are outlined in Lesley Gale’s article ‘Better the DEVIL you KNOW’

Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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