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.”

These staff meetings can vary widely, from just two instructors having coffee and discussing student exit procedures to full-blown, daylong staff meetings that cover every aspect of a student program. Regardless of the size of the staff, one of the most important aspects of any drop zone student program is the consistency with which rating holders train and evaluate students. When three instructors train a student three different ways for the same task, the result is usually a confused student who performs poorly. A drop zone that provides a uniform process for training students and evaluating their performance will help ensure that each staff member uses the same methods and standards, giving their students the highest chances for success.

A staff meeting is a great way to rein in your rating holders’ idiosyncrasies and standardize their training methods. By individually addressing each skydive in your student program, developing a flow for each freefall and canopy training exercise, and clearly outlining the advancement criteria, you’ll remove ambiguity. Both the instructors and the students will understand the tasks a student must complete before moving to a higher category skydive. The good news is that USPA has already developed these materials for you in the Integrated Student Program and has outlined procedures for using them. Each category contains a bullet-point list of learning and performance objectives, as well as advancement criteria. Reviewing these items with a student before each jump provides clear expectations for each planned task. This year, make your staff meeting an awesome training event! Your staff will work better as a team, and your students will reap the benefits.

—Jim Crouch | D-16979
USPA Director of Safety & Training

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