4-way formation skydiving is one of the most popular disciplines amongst amateur and professional jumpers. Once you’ve learned to skydive solo, one of the first things you’ll want to add to your list of skills is the ability to fly with others; four-way skydiving is an integral part of this too.
Here at Skydive Paraclete XP, and our sister wind tunnel, we welcome 4-way teams from across the globe who come here to train and compete. Here are five reasons why 4-way skydiving is so great…
Perhaps the greatest thing about 4-way formation skydiving is the team camaraderie that comes with it.
A 4-way team is actually made up of at least five people. These are the 4 ‘performers’, plus the camera flyer who films their jumps and makes judging the 4-way team for competitions possible. There’s also a coach and an alternate flyer in many teams too.
These people all come together with common goals, typically aiming to improve their point score average by a certain amount or looking to achieve a placing on the podium. The team agrees on its goals and budget for the year, planning out training to help them meet their goals within the budget and time constraints of the individuals.
They then work extremely hard together over the course of a season to fly in sync with one another and to all contribute to the overall goal. No one flyer is more important that the rest and a team cannot be won on the skills of one flyer alone. This interdependence makes for incredibly strong team bonds. Being part of a 4-way team can give you some of the best friends you’ll ever have.
4-way formation skydiving is a discipline of skydiving where progression is easily measured. Because teams are flying to a set ‘pool’ of formations – including ‘randoms’ and ‘blocks’ – progress is monitored through average points scored per round over a 10 round competition. This is usually referred to simply as the team’s ‘average’.
Teams can also be measured by time. Since every team has 35 seconds of ‘working time’ in every jump, timing how long each formation takes to complete gives a good indication of the potential ‘average’ of the team. Shaving seconds off those times can add more points onto the ‘average’.
For these reasons, 4-way is a discipline where there’s always something to learn and progress can be monitored throughout. This makes it hugely rewarding, as teams aim for and achieve their goals.
While the flying skills of one individual alone can’t win a 4-way medal, improved individual flying skills across all teammates can.
It’s for this reason that many 4-way teams train for individual skills as well as team skills. Throughout training, every flyer learns more and more about their specific position in the team. Every flyer, therefore, builds up skills which help them to be better flyers all around.
4-way formation skydiving competitions are split into 4 categories; Rookie, A, AA, and AAA.
This tiered competition structure, where the least experienced flyers enter ‘rookie’ and the most experienced ‘triple-A’, means that 4-way flyers always have an opportunity to help those in lower categories to learn.
A skydiver in the ‘A’ category typically knows more than a ‘rookie’ flyer and can pass the information on. You don’t have to be in the top category to have something to give to newer jumpers.
This is both hugely rewarding for the ‘coaching’ flyer and also fantastic for the sport overall, as even the least experienced jumpers can learn, progress and love every jump.
4-way formation skydiving is a discipline practiced by skydivers across the world.
The 4-way dive pool is consistent across the world, too. This means that a 4-way skydiver in the U.S. will recognize an ‘F’ as an ‘open accordion’ just as one in the UK will. Rock up at a drop zone in Europe and ask three other jumpers if they’d like to do ‘6 – M – O – 19’ with you and it’s highly likely (providing they are 4-way flyers too) that they’ll know exactly what you mean and they’ll be excited to make the jump with you! To get a better understanding of what we’re talking about, check out this video of a 4-way FS Dive-pool filmed at Paraclete XP.
As well as giving us a shared language, 4-way formation skydiving also gives us the chance to travel to new skydiving centers and meet new people. Skydivers from across the U.S. and beyond come to Paraclete XP to train, and skydivers from here travel across the world to participate in competitions throughout the year. It’s a great way to meet people and be part of this global community.
If you’re in a 4-way team and want to know how we can help take your team to the next level, learn more about our skydiving team packages. If you’re new to skydiving and want a front-row seat to see what 4-way formation skydiving is all about, join us at Paraclete XP for our 9th Annual Indoor Skydiving Championship on February 25-26. We’d love to see you there!