Dan’sMagic 7: Making your best better

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The seventh chapter in Dan BC’s 4-way manual…It’s time to just gun it – go for it with reckless abandon!

Storm by Gary Wainwright

The process we just described in Dan’sMagic 6 of turning your best into your average, and allowing a new best to emerge on its own will work quite well. If you stick to this plan your team will see steady and consistent improvement.

But for all teams there will be times in the training process when you feel like you are not making any progress, like you’ve hit a plateau and can’t get past it. That new best just isn’t emerging as expected. It may even seem like the team has stepped backwards. 

This is when it’s time to up the ante. We can’t wait any longer for that new best to emerge on its own. It’s time to push ourselves and reach for new heights that our team has never seen a glimpse of in itself. It’s time to just gun it. Go for it with reckless abandon and see what happens. Keep the pedal to the floor and find out how far you can push it. It’s going to be a lot of fun. 

It’s time to just gun it. Go for it with reckless abandon and see what happens”



At this stage of your training you will lose a lot of consistency. Your scores will almost certainly go down. The frequency and magnitude of the team’s flying errors will dramatically increase. You’ll need to maintain your sense of humor and be able to laugh about it. 

But, you will absolutely discover a new best. In the midst of this madness there will again be brilliant moments of spectacular moves. They may not happen 15% of the time. But they are happening. Recognize them, define them, analyze them, start a new best of dvd and begin again the process of turning this new best into your average.

This stage of your training serves another purpose. It provides the opportunity for the team to fly with total disregard for the scores and results. Not only that, but you have been ordered to make mistakes, lots of mistakes, big mistakes. If you are not making mistakes than you are not applying yourselves to the task at hand. During this stage it is your job to just go for it, have fun and see what happens. 

The chance to truly experience this carefree attitude is invaluable. Having actually trained in this attitude, you will be able to tap into it when you are experiencing feelings of performance anxiety, and worrying about the meet results. These fears are ones that at times we impose on ourselves, so it is we who can replace those fears with more playful thoughts of going for it and having a good time. You will be more successful at replacing those fears with these positive thoughts if you have trained the positive thoughts. This stage of the training is the opportunity to do that.

Pushing our best
Photo shows Storm team training, by Gary Wainwright

PERFORMING OUR BEST OR PUSHING OUR BEST… NOT BOTH

We must decide during each part of our training whether we are working on the skill of performing at our best OR pushing our best to new heights. We cannot do both at the same time.

As individuals working to excel at our sport, we are never satisfied. This is certainly true in Formation Skydiving. Our best is never good enough and we can always see room for improvement. As soon as our best even minimally begins to evolve into our average we immediately want to push further. Pushing too soon can have negative consequences. 

  1. We wouldn’t have spent the time and had enough practice and success at developing the skill of performing at our best. Consequently, this essential skill and our confidence in it will not be as developed as we need it to be when we are in competition. 
  2. We are much less likely to be successful in our effort to achieve a new best. Reaching for a new best is more effectively accomplished when launched from a solid platform of consistent performance. 

In competition, our goal is to perform at our best. Is it crucial that we have spent a significant amount of time training the skill of performing at our best so that we are confident we can deliver our best performance at the meet. 

To accomplish this we must be clear during training as to which of these is our performance goal. Performing our best and pushing our best are two completely different processes. 

Storm team performing at its best, photo by Gary Wainwright

The process of performing at our best involves:

  • Aiming for a best performance level that we have clearly defined, previously performed at, and are familiar with.
  • Trusting our instincts to take us to this predetermined best. 
  • Building consistency because we know what our target looks like and how to reach it. 
  • Building confidence in delivering our best performance because our system for accomplishing that goal has proven itself again and again in training. 
Storm team pushing its best, photo by Gary Wainwright

The process of pushing our best involves:

  • Aiming for a performance level that we have not clearly defined or performed at and with which we are certainly not familiar.
  • Not trusting our instincts to take us there because we have trained our instincts to take us to, not past, our best. 
  • Building inconsistency because we don’t know what exactly our target looks like or how to reach it.
  • A risk to our confidence because pushing to new heights is fraught with an increase in the number and magnitude of mistakes.

These processes are polar opposites. We need to decide during every day of training if we are aiming to perform at our best or to push our best to a new height. We cannot allow ourselves to make the mistake of doing one when we are actually intending to do the other.

If we are not very clear and disciplined as to which of these goals we are training, we may inadvertently fly as if pushing the speed when the plan was actually to fly at our established best. The jumps will be inconsistent and riddled with errors. 

Since we were under the impression that we were practicing the skill of performing at our best we will attach these frequent errors to our best performance process and lose confidence in the process, when in reality we weren’t being disciplined enough to execute that process in the first place. We are not giving ourselves the opportunity to build the confidence in our processes that we deserve and that will need when we arrive at the meet. 

If we do realize that we were actually pushing it when that wasn’t our intent, we will understand the reason for the inconsistencies and errors. We will become more disciplined about executing the plan. Our confidence in our system of performing at our best will remain strong and unharmed. 

These two entirely opposite processes cannot exist together. For best results we must finish the process of turning our best into our average before trying to make our best better. We must become so consistent that our best happens naturally for us. At that point we have built a strong foundation and are in the optimum position to launch from it and reach for a higher target. 


Storm team, coached by Dan BC, winning the Women’s 4-way World Championships, 2009
Photo by Stikkos

More Magic From Dan

Previous Article (6): Performing at your best

Next Article (8): Competitive magic

All Dan’sMagic articles


Above All Else

Several articles in this series are extracts from Dan’s amazing book, ‘Above All Else’, which covers far more than skydiving. It’s available from Square One HERE or Amazon HERE, where you can check the glowing reviews, mostly from non skydivers, such as:

“I can’t recommend the book more. Do yourself this favor and just read it. Sure, it’s not Shakespeare, but it’s truth. At 120 MPH. And you will be forever changed.”

Amazon review by Esta Desa

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Meet: Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld

Dan is Manager of Skydive Perris & Author of the highly acclaimed “Above All Else” book. He was a founding member of Airspeed and a multiple 4- and 8-way World Champion, competing for more than 20 years. Dan developed a training system through Airspeed and coaching so many teams. It works. His personal and coached teams consistently performed at their best in competition and often won – three consecutive and different Women's World Champion 4way teams for instance; Synchronicity, Storm and Airkix. He has so much passion for the sport, competing at Nationals every year, organizing at World Records, and trying new areas like Crew and freeflying. As a P3 skydiving organizer, coach and motivational speaker, he is inspirational.

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https://www.amazon.com/Above-All-Else-Skydivers-Adversity/dp/1616084464/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3GVTJD4PNPB86&keywords=above+all+else&qid=1555432052&s=books&sprefix=above+all+else%2Caps%2C206&sr=1-1