Head-Down Range of Motion Drills

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Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by Niklas Daniel. Information about AXIS' coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.


  • For solo jumpers to become more stable and mobile in the head-down position.
  • To gain the skill set necessary to take grips on another jumper.


  • Ability to smoothly transition over the head between the belly and back orientations.
  • Ability to transition to a head-down position from a sit-fly position (see “Foundations of Flight—Sit to Head-Down Front Flip,” July 2014 Parachutist).
  • Proficiency in the head-down neutral position.
  • Ability to control heading and level, as well as move forward and backward, while flying head down. (You do not need to be able to execute these moves perfectly.)

Once you are able to consistently fly in the head-down neutral position, you will want to connect with your friends. Before attempting to take docks with other jumpers, challenge your own stability by performing range-of-motion drills. Your goal is to be able to control your heading and fall rate while performing these drills.
First, attempt to touch various parts of your body with one hand only. In order of difficulty, try touching your:

  • Hands
  • Chest
  • Waist
  • Knees
  • Feet

Once you’re proficient performing these skills with one hand, perform them using both hands at the same time. Once that is easy, attempt to touch the same points across your centerline (e.g., right hand on left knee, etc.). If you can execute these moves, you’re likely to be successful when you start trying to take grips.
Helpful Hints:
When you begin docking on another jumper, you should not rely on that person to maintain stability. Therefore, your goal in these exercises is to maintain stability, heading and a consistent fall rate while solo, which will translate to reliable performance on group jumps.


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