10 Ways to Get the Most Out of BASE
Tips from Matt Laj on enjoying your BASE journey...
The video debrief is our primary opportunity for learning. This learning is not only limited to improving our technical flying skills. When reviewing the jumps we will be recognizing and discussing our own and each other’s strengths and weaknesses. How we choose to communicate with one another will have a great impact on the mood, attitude and character of the team. It can be the difference between building confidence or increasing fears. How we speak to each other in the debrief can determine if we maintain our sense of humor and enjoy the challenge of training, or if we lose perspective and increase our performance anxiety by taking ourselves too seriously.
How we choose to respond will have a great impact on building personality and winning spirit
When facing our errors, will we take personal responsibility and choose to demonstrate a confident winner’s “make it happen” attitude – or search for somewhere else to point the blame? Will we take responsibility for our own and each other’s learning or will we leave everyone to fend for themselves? How we choose to respond will have a great impact on building the personality and winning spirit of the team.
To gain all the potential benefits from the debrief we must be able to clearly and efficiently share ideas, opinions, criticisms, compliments and harassments. With a smart plan and understood rules, the debriefs can improve our skydiving, build our confidence, provide fun and entertainment and strengthen the bond in our team. Left on their own, the debriefs can poison us.
The debrief plan described here sets the stage for a team to have positive, productive and enjoyable communications when reviewing jumps or evaluating if other goals have been met.
Never miss out on an opportunity to laugh at yourselves
Watch the jump twice before commenting.
Never miss out on an opportunity to laugh at yourselves and each other.
If there are any exceptionally bad moments, pause the video at the craziest point and enjoy the humor in it. It is better to freeze-frame the video, slightly embarrass the person who is in the compromising position and laugh about it than it is to hide from it and pretend it didn’t happen.
One person speaks at a time
Start by stating any positive things you see in yourself, your teammates or the team as a whole
Debrief yourself by recognizing only your own errors
State what you plan to do to correct them
If you see a problem the team is having but don’t think that you contributed to it, identify what more you could have done to contribute to fixing it. For instance, say you are the rear floater. The front floater didn’t get a good launch on exit. He came under the formation and it funneled. You may not have caused the funnel but had you been aware sooner that the front floater had a bad exit you could have responded by pulling your end of the formation down the hill and you may have been able to prevent the funnel. There will always be mistakes, don’t be a victim. Make it happen.
It is now open for input from the other teammates. If the individual has recognized their errors and made a good plan to fix them then there should be nothing that needs to be said.
But if there are errors that the individual made but didn’t recognize, or recognized but didn’t know how to fix, than it is the other teammates' responsibility to speak up.
Don’t search for and point out every little error that goes unnoticed. There are simply too many and we can’t focus on every minor detail.
But if the mistakes are significant or repetitive and have gone unnoticed they need to be pointed out. We can’t fix something if we don’t know it’s broken.
Only give input to a teammate if you are certain that the information you are offering will be valuable towards helping the individual fix the problem. This is essential. If different teammates start throwing in every idea that crosses their mind the person being debriefed won’t stand a chance of filtering through it all to find the jewels of information that may be pertinent. The filter gets clogged and the receptors shut down. But if they know that the only input allowed in the debrief has been well thought-out, and the person offering it is absolutely certain it could be of help, than they will consider the information carefully. Save the loose, untested ideas for a brainstorming session. They will only serve to cloud, confuse and lengthen a debrief.
When receiving input from a teammate don’t allow yourself to operate from the defensive feelings that you are likely to be experiencing. Listen to what they say. Remember that these are your teammates and with this input they are trying to help you and the team to achieve your goals. They wouldn’t be offering this information unless they had thought it out and were sure of what they were saying.
Don’t search for and point out every little error that goes unnoticed
Accept this information without discussion or debate. It doesn’t matter if they are right, it matters that they might be. Be sure that you clearly understand what they are saying but don’t argue its worth. Doing so is a defensive response that at best takes too much time and at worst deteriorates the team’s ability to constructively debate issues.
It is up to the individual being debriefed to decide if this input is worth applying. If you think that the information they were offering is not applicable than carry on as you had planned. If the errors continue to resurface then you should consider their input again.
When this plan is used all the goals of the debrief are met. Stay disciplined as you first start working with this process. Before you know it the video reviews will be productive, efficient and often quite entertaining.
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