The Rating Corner

Separating Landings

It’s been seven years since the USPA Board of Directors mandated that all USPA Group Member drop zones separate those making high-performance landings from those flying standard landing patterns. The Group Member pledge now includes the following requirement: more »

Procedure Versus Style

As an instructor, you’ve probably been there: The first-jump course students are still in the classroom, and it’s late afternoon already. “He loves to hear himself talk,” another instructor murmurs in your ear. “True,” you think sarcastically to yourself, “but at least he covers the information, unlike some people I know.” more »

Maintaining Professionalism

Attitude, experience, proficiency, knowledge, judgment, responsibility and professionalism: These are the seven qualities that the USPA Instructional Rating Manual states that a coach or instructor should have. Earning a USPA rating and training students to skydive means that you need to step up your game on every level. more »

Follow the Plan

Whether you are assisting with a Category-A first jump, performing an A-license check dive or instructing one of the levels in between, your student can perform well only if he is trained properly for the task and you supervise him correctly and in a manner consistent with his preparation. Students often struggle just to accomplish the basic maneuvers required for each freefall and canopy dive flow, so any last-second changes to procedures will lead to confusion and could place your student at additional risk. more »


One of the most important duties of a USPA instructor or rating course examiner is handling the administrative requirements for jumpers’ USPA licenses and ratings. While some do a great job of taking care of their paperwork, USPA is forced to reject a substantial number of license and rating applications because the people responsible for submitting them did something wrong. The end result is often an angry license or rating candidate and a backlog in the processing of all licenses and ratings. Essentially, everyone is paying the price—in the form of delayed applications and a system that is moving much more slowly than it should—for those who are making mistakes. more »

Rating Renewal Seminars

With the approaching warmer weather and the start of the skydiving season for a large part of the northern hemisphere, it’s a perfect time for drop zone staff to gather and hold a season-opening staff meeting. One of the tasks USPA requires of each rating holder is to attend a USPA Rating Renewal Seminar annually. The Skydiver’s Information Manual defines the seminar as, “A meeting of USPA instructional rating holders to exchange information, introduce and discuss new ideas, and to develop, improve, or assure the quality of skydiving instruction.” more »

Mental Rehearsal

A picture is worth a thousand words. Regardless of experience level, successful skydivers in every discipline routinely employ mental rehearsal as one of their most effective tools. For this reason, part of the coach or instructor checklist is to guide the student through the jump mentally before letting him exiting the aircraft. more »

Teaching Landing Patterns Using Backward Chaining

In the USPA Coach Certification Course, candidates learn a strategy for presenting material to their students called “backward chaining.” This method involves presenting concepts from the end result, working backward step by step and then putting the concepts together as a whole. Backward chaining works particularly well for teaching landing patterns, because skydivers naturally work backward (from where they want to land) when deciding on their landing approaches. more »

Relax, Arch, Neutral

Skydiving teaches its participants to expect the unexpected. To go with the flow, we use planned spontaneity, a method of balancing intense, detailed preparation with creativity and flexibility. Just like when we need to deal with unexpected issues in our daily lives, we often must make split-second decisions when we’re skydiving, sometimes with only a partial picture of the situation. One simple technique that is easy to remember and execute and applies priorities correctly to almost every situation is RAN: relax, arch, neutral. more »

Rating Dilution

Positive reinforcement is a powerful motivator. Schoolteachers and parents capitalize on children’s inherent desire for accolades, and institutions expand on this system by rewarding achievement. Sometimes, the dangling carrot is not even financial compensation; a mere title suffices. more »