The Rating Corner

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 »

Foolish Risks

Maybe it is boredom, maybe it is ignorance of the rules and the additional danger placed on all of the participants, or maybe it’s just a case of trying to be cool and awesome. But each year, tandem manufacturers and USPA hear of tandem instructors who have violated the rules created to make tandem skydiving as safe as possible. more »

A-License Cards

USPA has offered two versions of the A-license card for more than 13 years, yet some rating holders are still confused about who can sign for the various items listed on them. The answer depends on which card you decide to use. more »


Imagine an instructor holding a bottle of water. He asks a student if he is thirsty, and the student replies, “Yes.” The instructor then pours the water into the palm of his hand and tries to hand it to the student. Of course, the water goes everywhere. more »

How to Make a PB&J

News flash: Being an eloquent communicator is not a prerequisite for being an excellent coach or instructor! In fact, the biggest mistake instructional rating holders make is equating teaching with talking. While having a solid body of knowledge is imperative, giving all of it to the student at once is like offering him a drink from a fire hose. Instead, you should reach, not teach. In other words, you should have a specific goal in mind for your students to achieve during any cognitive or psychomotor lesson and then help them get there. Instead of thinking of your lesson plans as topics, think of the specific actions students should eventually be able to show you. Start with the end. That is, instead of saying, “Today we’re going to talk about malfunctions,” try something like, “By the end of this session, you will show me at least three times how to properly perform canopy emergency procedures.” more »

The 2013 AFF Standardization Meeting

It’s a safe bet that on March 30, there was not a single AFF Instructor Rating Course being conducted anywhere in the world. That’s because every current AFF Instructor Examiner was in the same room in Daytona Beach, Florida, attending the biennial AFF Standardization Meeting. Members of this dedicated group traveled to the meeting from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America and all parts of the U.S., including one examiner who drove 50 hours almost non-stop from Arizona to make it on time. more »