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Did You Know...

... that John Hart fills the waiting time with more 4-way tips?

Knight Trax prepares for a training jump
posted Feb 19th, 2008 - The NSL News is still waiting for the remaining scores of the Valentine's Meet 2008. Hopefully, the wait will not be much longer. In the meantime, the next part of John Hart's 4-way tips have become available for the public and can be reviewed below.

The US national 8-way team, Knight Trax with John Hart in the lineup, has started the next 2-week training camp in DeLand, and the Pilatus Porter has a very busy schedule. Knight Trax keeps the plane busy with back-to-back loads all morning long. Knight Trax member Thomas Hughes then begins the afternoon shift as the coach for Fastrax Blue, the US 4-way team in IPC's female category.

John Hart's next part of 4-way tips covers jump preparations and more general helpful advice. His instructions are a preview of the Meet-n-Greet event for the Mideast Skydiving League on April 12 at Start Skydiving, home of Team Fastrax.

John Hart and Knight Trax members

Four Way Tips - Goals

By John Hart, Team Fastrax

- See the picture of each formation

- Learn each transition between points

- Reinforce cross reference

- Work out grip plan

It is important to learn and use correct creeper technique. You want to reinforce good habits and not bad ones. The idea is to make your creeping session feel the way you want your skydive feel.

Thomas Hughes at work with Fastrax Blue

4way Tips - Purpose

Creeping is great for learning the visuals of each formation. Stand-up dirt dives don't fully give a realistic view of the formations or the transitions between points. On the creepers, you can see the specific distance of the moves, angles, and shape.

You can't practice the specific body movements nor vertical transitions. Many piece moves can feel awkward on creepers and can require more muscling on the ground than in the air.

Thomas Hughes landing after a Knight Trax jump

4way Tips - Moving

Place both hands on the ground and move to the next position. Stop the creepers once you have reached where you need to be. Maintain your cross-reference through the entire move. Look away only once you have stopped yourself on the creeper and are ready to take the grip.

To stop, place both hands firmly on the ground. You may also stop by planting the toes of one foot, but be aware of your teammates. If somebody is behind you, you will need to use only your hands to stop.

Once the creeping is stopped, look at the grip and take a solid grip. Use the grip to shape the formation if necessary. Specifically, it the grip you have has been presented to closely, box it out. If it's too far, bring it in. This communicates to your teammate that he needs to make an adjustment in his move. Conversely if you feel somebody shaping you, then you know that you need to make the adjustment.

French team on creepers

4way Tips - Suggested Procedure

Walk the skydive to get the puzzle. Once everybody has a feel for the sequence, lay down on the creepers. Go through the dive to again get familiar with the puzzle.

Now break down each transition (random to random, random to block, block to random). This is commonly known as angling. Move from the first point to the second point. The object is to the make the transition efficient, reducing everybody's movement as much as possible. Do this transition two more times. If everybody agrees that the transition is correct, then move to the next transition. Continue this process until you have done all the angles.

The idea of repeating each transition is to allow you to learn the precise movement that is required. In this way, you will be more likely to do that move, no less and no more. As you perform each transition try to really see the details of the move.

Is it a long translational move or is it very short? Do you not move at all? Does it require you to rotate? Exactly how much do you have to rotate?

Black Cat discusses a creeping issue

4way Tips - Communication

Creeping givse you a great opportunity to practice your communication. You should be really staring down your clone the vast majority of the time. Eye contact is usually possible for center flyers. Outside flyers will have less opportunity for eye contact. But they should still be looking through the center at each other.

Grips are an important way of communicating with your teammates. When you take a firm solid grip, you will be communicating confidence. If you feel a teammate shape the formation, you know that an adjustment needs to be made for that transition.

Fastrax Blue prepares for a jump

4way Tips - Final Creeping

Once everybody has worked out their jobs on every transition and knows the key and grip plans, the team is ready for a final creeping session. This final session should be treated like a skydive. That means once there should be no talking. If errors occur, fix them and then continue, just as you would on a real skydive.

Start with an exit count and go through several pages of the skydive. A good creeping session will feel calm and mechanical with good key and grip discipline and great communication.

Customized team creeper from Ukraine

4way Tips - Other Tips

An aid to effective creeping is to make it as realistic and comfortable as possible. To do this:

1. Purchase or build good creepers. The most important parts of a creeper are the wheels. Colson Hi-Tech Performa 3 X 7/8 are the best on the market.

2. Use a good creeper pad. It should be very smooth and at least 12 feet square, preferably 16 feet or more.

3. Stretch before getting on creepers. Stretching is one of the first recommended steps in a training day; this is covered elsewhere in this document. The most important muscles to stretch for creeping are the neck and the lower back.

4. Find a comfortable, balanced position on the creeper.

Norgie Girls stretching at the World Meet 2003
5. When building a formation, place yourselves a realistic, comfortable distance apart, the same as you will be in freefall. Don't force your teammates to stretch to reach grips; place your grips within comfortable reach. Don't reach for grips; move your center point to make the grips convenient. Also, don't get so close to your teammates that your shoulders are crowded against the grips. Remember, the watchword is comfortable!

6. During transitions, move your center point to the proper place and stop, using hands and/or feet, before taking grips. This will hold true in freefall as well. When building formations (not when completing blocks), you should always stop moving as or before you take grips.

7. When necessary, take short breaks to stretch.

8. If a teammate is a few inches from where you would like them to be, tell them how you would like them to move, or move them gently. Similarly, be attentive to your teammates' needs, and be light on the creeper so they can move you if necessary.

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