The Rating Corner

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 »

Treating Tandem Students Like Students

For a tandem instructor, the day can get pretty busy (and even a little monotonous) when there are lots of students waiting to jump. However, the key word here is “student.” Each person gets to have only one first skydive, and the focus of that skydive must be the student’s experience, from start to finish. Tandem skydiving is a student training discipline, with Federal Aviation Administration requirements that instructors must meet with every student. Federal Aviation Regulation 105.45 states the following: more »

New Instructors

Earning an instructional rating in any discipline is always a great accomplishment. A jumper who proves that he has the teaching ability and air skills necessary to pass the certification course and work with students has already exhibited hard work and commitment. However, the jumper should really consider achieving the rating as just the starting point. more »

Putting Yourself in Their Shoes

Most coaches and instructors jump small canopies and fly their canopies at much higher wing loadings than their students do. If the last time you jumped a student canopy was when you were actually a student, maybe it is time for you to grab a student rig and make a few jumps. Getting back in the air with a canopy your students are actually jumping will improve how well you teach canopy flight. It can be a truly enlightening experience, especially if it has been years since you jumped a larger canopy. more »

Full Supervision

Coaches and instructors are responsible for supervising students throughout the entire training process, skydive and debrief. While USPA’s certification courses simulate and evaluate these skills pretty well, much of the focus is often on ground training and freefall skills. Of course, the courses can’t cover every possible scenario and can only place strong emphasis on so many items, but we shouldn’t forget that one of our most essential responsibilities as rating holders is to make sure our students remain out of harm’s way while on the ground. This can be a bigger challenge than you might think. more »

Currency Training

As coaches and instructors, you spend most of your time training and jumping with students who are making their first jumps or working toward earning USPA A licenses. But another duty that falls on instructional rating holders involves retraining jumpers who are getting back in the air after layoffs. Doug Garr approaches the subject from the jumper’s point of view in “Dropping In After Dropping Out”, but the instructors also need to give these jumps a lot of thought. more »