As adult human beings, we make approximately 35,000 decisions a day … 35,000! That’s a ton of decision making! If you’re a skydiving coach or instructor, a lot of those decisions involve the safety and wellbeing of skydiving students, and hopefully, your decisions are based completely on those considerations.
The decisions you make during ground training are just as important as the decisions you make on the skydive. The good news is that you can take all the time you want to make decisions on the ground. You can also consult with more experienced staff members if you are not quite sure how to handle a situation. That can help you make better decisions in the future. Here are some decisions that instructors and coaches often must make:
• It is starting to get cloudy, should I scratch my student jumper off the load?
• Am I sure that my student is ready for the next tasks?
• My student wants to jump a smaller parachute. Is he ready?
• Will this student have a fast fall-rate or a slow fall-rate, and am I prepared for it?
Making the correct decisions on the ground can make a difference between a student who has a successful jump or a student who ends up injured or possibly even killed. So it is important for each rating holder to use every available resource when it comes to decisions on the ground, since there is always time available. Rushing the ground training to make the next load? Maybe it is better to scratch and make sure you and your student have properly covered and rehearsed everything instead of rushing to make the flight.
You must make decisions in the air quickly and correctly. The clock is ticking, and every second counts. It is important to stay ahead of the skydive and anticipate (as best as possible) what is going to happen next. Regardless of whether you’re a static-line or IAD instructor and your student is performing longer delays, an AFF instructor with a student new to freefall or a coach with a more advanced student, the student will have a better chance of successfully completing the skydive if you’re in the proper position and reacting correctly.
Jim Crouch | D-16979
USPA Director of Safety & Training