British Skydiving has provided British Skydiving instructors with a number of frameworks designed to help us to be more effective instructors.
These frameworks apply to coaching, too – and with our Progression School, we aim to upskill our coaches to be able to make better use of these tools that we as instructors already use to teach our students.
You can find another blog post on the topic of Methods of Instruction here. The aim of this post is to explore the most commonly used instructional techniques and how to apply these to your coaching.
Note, this is not an exhaustive list and a great coach will have lots of tools and techniques up their sleeves to help them do the best job possible. You’ll learn more of these through experience of coaching, through talking to other coaches and through getting coaching yourself.
EDIP – Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice
EDIP provides us as coaches and instructors with a structure for our briefs or lessons. It allows the student to learn effectively by layering knowledge, giving them the opportunity to really get their head around the topic and show us that they’ve understood it adequately.
This is where we explain the concept and is most commonly done using words, or sometimes with the aid of training tools like photos, videos or other props.
Explaining means giving the student and understanding of what it is, and also why it is that way. By the time you get to EDIP, you’ve likely already set an aim for your lesson or brief (as per the Methods of Instruction) so while you might reiterate that here (i.e. the aim of this brief is to teach you how to turn in place), the explanation focuses more specifically on the thing you’re teaching them (e.g. we create an in place turn by putting in inputs using both our arms and our legs at the same time).
This is where we show the student the thing we want them to learn.
Remember, if you’re ever demonstrating anything, it should be a good demonstration. Which means using your planning and preparation from your Methods of Instruction to properly prepare your training space so that you have anything you need to make a good demonstration, be it the mock up, a creeper, to be wearing a jumpsuit and so on.
Never demonstrate something poorly. A good demostration sets the expectation with the student of exactly what they should be doing. Yes, demonstrating turns on a creeper might feel tricky, but do your best (pro tip – put your head at the ‘legs’ end of the creeper and your legs at the skinnier ‘head’ end to make it easier to show knee turns, and ask a buddy, if available to turn the creeper for you while you make the inputs to do an even better demonstration).
This is where we ask our student to imitate what we do. That means they should be mirroring what you did in your demonstration, either with you doing it at the same time, or with you talking them through it. This is their first go, their chance to try to copy what you showed them.
This is arguably the most important part of EDIP because it’s the student’s opportunity to get the new skill right on the ground before taking it to the sky.
A great coach will spend the time with the student on the ground, even if it means missing a lift and going on the next one instead… a good ground based practice gives the student a much better chance of success in the sky, so invest that time well.
During the practice phase, you should be coaching the student, using, where appropriate, hand signals to correct them, as you will in the sky. Keep going until the practice is good – remember, practice might not make perfect, but it will make permanent so what the student does on the ground, they will do in the sky.
Whole – Part – Whole
This is another instructional tool that will really help your briefs and ensure the student is very clear on what they need to do. It is most commonly used during the ‘demonstrate’ part of EDIP, but can also be applied to the brief as a whole, and to debriefs, too.
The idea is that you show the student the whole thing, then break it down into its parts, then the whole thing again.
Let’s use FS turns as our example again. You show the student the whole thing first, demonstrating a turn using your arms and your legs.
Next, you break that down into its parts. You note how your arch has remained, your spine has stayed straight, your head is up and you’re relaxed. You then focus on the arms, they’re very similar to what your student did to turn while they were learning to skydive but now, we’re in the mantis position, so they look a little different. This is how we use the arms, and this is why it works. Then the legs, they haven’t used these before to turn, here’s what to do, here’s why it works. All the parts.
Then you show them the whole thing again.
The same works on a brief – summarise the whole jump, then break it down into, say, the exit, the freefall exercise, the break off, then reiterate the whole jump plan. And for a debrief – watch the whole video, discuss it in summary, then break it down into its parts, then recap the main learnings from the whole thing.
Use of questions
In group settings, we use question-pause-nominate, which means we ask an open question, pause to give everyone time to think of the answer, and then nominate one person to answer the question. This ensures everyone in the room has the opportunity to think about the correct answer, rather than just having one especially keen bean answering every time.
In a one on one setting, we don’t need to do this but we do need to ensure our use of questions maximises the student’s opportunity to learn – and to show us they understand.
Use open questions to facilitate this. Open questions usually start with ‘tell me how…’ or ‘why does…’ or ‘explain to me…’.
You can also use ‘show me…’ as a more practical questionning technique. ‘Show me how you would do an in place turn’, for example.
Instructional tools and the Progression School
The Progression School at Skydive Langar exists to make more and better coaching available to our jumpers and centres around the idea of incentivising and rewarding currency and experience.
To become a Progression School Coach, you need to be successfully evaluated on an annual basis. The criteria for these evaluations are categorised primarily into two parts – content and delivery. The ‘content’ part is the content of your brief and whether what you cover is correct. The ‘delivery’ part is an evaluation of your ability to apply the Instructional Tools (as laid out in this blog post here) and the Methods of Instruction (another blog post here).
We’ll teach you all about these things and how to use them to their maximum potential. Whether you’re an aspiring coach, or an experienced coach wanting to take advantage of the Progression School benefits, get in touch and let us know – email firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance, or find Laura Hampton on Facebook or in person at the drop zone.