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Debriefing

In the past, I’ve largely watched my skydiving videos 1) to determine how many points were earned in scrambles events or 2) to show off how sweet/fun/awesome/radical a particular dive was. I didn’t seriously debrief. Over this skydiving season, I’ve taken my debriefing to the next level because I want to improve my flying for 8way. With 8 people in a formation, small mistakes compound quickly. Debriefing my jumps with the team and by myself is a simple, free way to minimize some of those compounding mistakes.

So here is a non-comprehensive-but-decent list of the things I look for while I am debriefing my performance on a skydive:


Non-Comprehensive-But-Decent List

Body position

  • Are my legs appropriately positioned? (Mine are always way too wide.) Are they steady? Is there extra movement?
  • Are my arms too narrow? Too big?
  • Is my torso twisted?
  • Am I reaching as I approach formations, which sends me moving backwards?
  • Am I flying strong, not letting others move me?

Fall rate

  • Am I in the middle of my fall rate range?
  • If not, do I need arch more or add weights to go faster? Change suits?
  • Do I simply need to be more cognizant of arching before particular where I moves where I tend to float each time I repeat that move? (Example, I tend to float on 360s, but if I take a breath and arch before that turn, I am fine)
  • Is my fall rate issue simply a product of me not looking across the formation?

Recall of the dive flow

  • Am I taking the correct grips on the correct people? (Did I take a sidebody instead of a cat?)
  • Am I taking grips on the right person? (Or did I fly to the wrong part of a formation?)
  • Did I brainlock? (Often the fix for this is better concentration while walking and creeping, and more visualization in the plane)
  • Did I anticipate the key for the next move, ready to break grips and move to the next formation? (If I did not anticipate, what was the outcome? Did I sink out? Float up? Float backwards away from the formation?)

Joining the formation

  • Did I come in too hot, potentially causing the formation to spin, causing others to lose their grips?
  • Was I on level when I took my grips? If not, was I so high or so low as to cause waves through the formation?
  • Was I significantly higher or lower than the formation falling into someone’s burble or burbling the formation?
  • Was I fixating on the grip I’m taking instead of continually looking across the formation, thereby exacerbating other issues?

Building the formation

  • Did I envision the center point of the next point?
  • If not, did I step in too far, or not far enough to my position for the next point?
  • Did we build the formations too wide making it difficult for people to reach their grips?
  • Did we build the formation too squished, not giving each other clean air to fly?
  • Did we let the center of the formation build first?

But to narrow it down..

The things I look for that are easiest to fix..

  • Looking across the formation
  • Being stopped before docking
  • Being on level before docking
  • Anticipating the next formation

So if you need somewhere to start, start there.

Helpful Hint on Debriefing

When debriefing a video with others, stop and have a Know-Thyself moment beforehand.

If it is your place to do the debrief, do so.

Examples:

  • You are the coach
  • You are the load organizer
  • You are far and away the most experienced
  • The camera is from your viewpoint and you can explain what you saw

If you are not obviously the one to debrief, assess whether…

  • What you are going to say is both helpful and supportive
  • The person is open to your feedback
  • You have enough experience to adequately debrief the jump

Please, do not be a 100 Jump Wonder that will explain exactly what happened on a jump to people with triple and quadruple your experience. That’s annoying and probably incorrect. Also, if you are at an event where people around you are paying someone else to coach them (a camp, a big way training, etc.), let the coach do the coaching. You are not the one being paid to coach.

One last caveat

If you have a safety concern during a debriefing and no one has addressed it, then do please speak up and speak up loudly, no matter your experience level.

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