Never Go Low 3 – Tools

Visit Us

The ULTIMATE Guide to Not Going Low

Use TOOLS to avoid that sinking feeling!

A 4-part series by Christy Frikken. The first parts took you through slow fall and the stadium, now it’s time to review what tools for aligning your range you can use…

Don’t be that person! Follow Christy’s advice…
Image from Power Play by Craig O’Brien

Mass vs. Surface Area

Beginners start without control

Confused at why Galileo said all objects fall at the same speed, yet we need weight belts and sleeves? I’m lucky to know people who are smart enough to argue the formula for this at a bar. (Seriously, they were working it out on napkins between beers.) My very fourth-grade explanation is that it only works on the moon, where there isn’t air. Here on Earth, it’s all about your mass vs. surface area. I found this very reasonable explainer for those who are inclined.

Description of Fall Rate Range

When you start on AFF, your intentional fall rate range is zero. You fall how you fall; you have no idea how to go slower or faster. Then someone teaches you to add and subtract some surface area. You aren’t great at it, but your range increases a little. The gap is the difference, and this difference is your range.

Expanding the bracket

Experienced skydivers can fall slower and faster

Your first plan of attack should be to expand your range with technique and flexibility. You can learn to fall slower and faster more efficiently, pushing that bracket up. With time you can become more flexible, pressing that bracket downwards. A big bracket means more dynamic changes, more options for flying with different fall rate ranges, and more options for correction when things aren’t perfect. Use tunnel training to expand your bracket.

Lining up your ranges

Mismatched ranges – If two flyers’ ranges do not overlap, they will not successfully fly together. One will float while the other sinks, and they will continue gaining distance after they release from exit.

The middle of your range (the dot) is your most comfortable flying speed

Just because you have a big range, though, doesn’t mean you want to be flying at the edges. It is uncomfortable and less effective. In a perfect world, you want to fly in the middle of that range so you can fall both slower and faster as needed for the formation. It also means you can stick your limbs out to turn or move without popping up or bring a limb in without sinking hopelessly.

If we set a group off for success, we do our best to line the center dots of our ranges up. We do this by guessing and checking! Your first jump with a group, you take a stab at how you think everyone will fall and go find out. From there you know how off-center you are.

Overlapping ranges – notice that if you have a wide range, you can still cope with a very slow or fast fall rate. You can make it happen, which is what makes you a great skydiver. It is also a strain, though, and we want to put you in a spot in which you have the maximum options.

The outside diamonds are going low…
… but recover because the flyers are in the middle of their fall rate range
Images from PowerPlay by Craig O’Brien

Shifting the Bracket

What do you do if your middle range doesn’t align with your group? Shift the whole bracket up and down. This is where tools come in. Technique will get you more range, but it won’t move your whole bracket or align those center dots.

To fix this problem you must change your body or use tools.

More Cheeseburgers, Fewer Cheeseburgers

With time, you can change your body of course. Add weight and you’ll fall faster; lose it and you’ll fall slower. This obviously takes time, has limits, and is easier said than done. But from a long-term perspective, you can improve your body in a way that gives you more of an advantage as a skydiver.

Weight belt by Symbiosis Suits – Photo by XDReam

Weight Belts

If you need to fall faster, grab a weight belt. Adding some mass will move your whole range down. It will allow you to comfortably take grips, move more powerfully, and increase your stability when falling at a faster than natural speed.

How much lead? Guess and check. That is why groups do multiple jumps. Some basic advice is to start with about 6 pounds and go from there. Be conscious what adding lead does to your wingloading. With practice, you’ll get pretty good at a first guess.

Notice the heavy last diver, wearing overarms and a big yellow suit – dress for success!
Power Play event, Skydive Perris, photo by Craig O’Brien

Suit Choices

If you want to fall slower, grab some fabric. Pull-over sleeves, swoop cords, bigger suits, or even a sweatshirt create more drag. Adding these to your repertoire is how you will slow down your whole bracket. In a perfect world, you have a choice of suits and suit parts you can use to adjust your fall rate to a group.

Dress for the fall rate of the formation to avoid floating like this
Image over Skydive Perris by Craig O’Brien

Dress for the Formation

Dress for the formation fall rate, and use technique to get there. When you are matching a group, line your middle-of-range dot up to fall comfortably INSIDE the formation, not to what you think you need to get to the formation. It is a big mistake to “go light” so that you don’t have to worry about going low. If you get to the group, struggle to pick up grips, lift people up, and can’t be stable, this is as bad as going low and never getting there. It creates an unsuccessful group.

Dress for your slot while you are holding grips. You should be right in the middle when you are hooked up. To avoid going low, use great slow fall and your buffer zone!

This perfectly round In-out will only build if everyone is matching the fall rate
Image from Power Play by George Katsoulis

Never Go Low Again Series

A 4-part series by Christy Frikken – on her website, Fury Coaching

Coming Soon


Weight belts in different sizes, holding up to 30 lbs, by Symbiosis Suits

Symbiosis Suits are offering 20% off their super customised weight belts for Skydive Mag Readers. Why why not get a weight belt made to match the rest of your gear? After all, matching colours make better skydivers! Available with padding, rig lateral clips and custom sized to hold as much weight as you need in a single weight belt.

“I cannot express how happy I am with my new weight belt from Symbiosis Suits! 😀 It has extra padding which makes it so comfortable. I cannot feel the pouches when I’m wearing it which was always an issue for me on my old belt. I love it! ❤️”
Catherine Leather, FS Coach

Reader Offer

  • 20% off weight belt & options
  • Exclusive to Skydive Mag readers
  • Download order form here
  • Enter ‘Skydive Mag’ in the ‘dealer’ box to claim your discount

Note: Does not apply to weight pouches or shipping. Lead time approx 10 weeks for customised orders.

Visit Us

Meet: Christy Frikken

Christy Frikken teaches and competes in 4-way skydiving almost every day. She has been on many teams, including but not limited to SDC Rhythm XP, Perris Fury, Perris Wicked, Perris Force, and Perris Moxie. When she is not going fast herself, she is coaching others to go faster in the tunnel and sky. Check out furycoaching.com for more helpful articles.

Christy is proudly sponsored by Sun Path, PD, Skydive Perris, Kiss, Vigil, Larsen & Brusgaard

Contact Me

    Scroll to Top