In-air coaching is a big part of how we teach people to skydive. So being able to communicate effectively is important.
Lots of people ask us how we communicate when we’re falling at speeds of around 120mph – and how our students manage to respond in those conditions too! The aim of this post is to explain how we communicate while skydiving and hopefully whet your appetite to book your own learn to skydive course.
Can you hear in freefall?
With the exception of some very (very) loud students, the answer is no, we can’t hear in freefall. We do encourage people to shout as they leave the aircraft as this can help to kickstart their breathing if the experience temporarily takes their breath away but even then, it’s tricky to hear when you’re falling through the sky!
Using hand signals to communicate
The best way for us to communicate in freefall is using hand signals.
Hand signals are easy for us to present to our students. On the earlier levels of learning to skydive, the instructors (of which there are 2 to start with) sit at the side of the student and the student simply turns their head to see the signals as they’re given.
On later levels, where there’s just one instructor, that instructor will typically sit in front of the student and present signals that way.
We continue to use these signals throughout our skydiving, even once people are qualified. For example, when working toward new qualifications, a coach will use the same hand signals as an instructor to help their student to improve their body position and inputs for maximum effectiveness.
Hand signals we use in skydiving vs the tunnel
The hand signals we use in skydiving are similar to those used in the wind tunnel, but not exactly the same. Because the environment of a wind tunnel – or indoor skydiving simulator – is different, some of the signals used are either not applicable in the sky, or applicable in a different way. The same applies vice versa.
The signals we use in skydiving are, however, pretty commonplace across the world, and you can generally expect to see the same signals wherever you jump.
How to learn the hand signals for skydiving
We’ll teach you all of the hand signals you need for your skydives when you come to learn with us! These are practiced at length on the day of your ground school and revised before every jump. There aren’t lots to learn, so it’s easy to commit them all to memory.
Communication vs ‘feeling’
Once you’ve jumped out of a plane once or twice, the focus moves from what we can tell you to what you can feel. So much of our sport is about feeling how the wind affects your body and responding accordingly to get the desired outcome.
This means that we typically expect to give fewer signals to our students as their development continues as they become more self-aware and able to self correct.