Recently I have been thinking more about taking a new direction in skydiving. Mostly, I just fun jump with my friends. However, lately, I have considered the possibility that I might want to coach new jumpers, welcoming them into our sport. Perhaps even becoming an AFF instructor one day, who knows! Ultimately, to further myself in any instructional direction within skydiving, I need to get a coach rating. So this got me thinking to write about why I want the coach rating and the process of doing so.
Please note that the research I’ve done is regarding the USPA coach rating. And as such, if you are not in this federation, be sure to speak to someone at your local drop zone. Surely they can get you started in the right direction within your federations coaching rating!
“Becoming a coach is incredibly rewarding. The satisfaction you get from teaching others to fly is indescribable. Our community is amazing in part because of the countless teachers and mentors who have shared the sky with each new generate.” – Matt “Chang” Madden, USPA AFF Instructor Examiner
What is a coach rating?
The very first rating that a skydiver can obtain after getting their USPA B license is the coach rating. This rating acts as a stepping stone for all other USPA ratings. To become a UPSA rated AFF instructor, tandem instructor, or IAD/SL instructor, you first must have this pre-requisite coaching course.
The coach rating allows you to teach students on the ground and in the air. Once you obtain this rating, you can coach A license jumpers and join them for one-on-one formation skydiving (FS) jumps. Also, you can coach B license skydivers (and forward) on group formation skydiving. With this basic coach rating, you should be able to teach basic fundamental skills for your student or group of students to perform a safe skydive, including both free fall and canopy controls. As well, you will now be able to help teach portions of First Jump Courses and make recurrency jumps.
What are the pre-requisites for the coaching course?
To be a candidate for a skydiving coach certification course, you must meet the criteria. But do not worry, it is not too complicated to get started on your first skydiving rating! You must have the following requirements to participate:
- Be a current USPA member
- Hold a USPA B license
- Must have completed 100 skydives
- Complete the section titled “Prior to Arrival” of the Coach Rating Proficiency Card
- Assisted in one First Jump Course
What do you learn in a USPA Coach rating course?
During a USPA coach course, you will learn a variety of communication and teaching skills. First and foremost, you will be taught the role of a coach and the process of successful coaching. These workshops will demonstrate briefing and debriefing techniques, including skydiving skills and video analysis. Aspects of phycological skydiving techniques will be taught, so coaches will be able to encourage their students in a positive and successful method. Candidates will develop effective communication skills for skydive coaching. You will leave the course with the tools to understand how people learn and gain effective teaching and presentation techniques for success with your students.
Participants in the coaching courses will have to complete two successful evaluation jumps with your course evaluator acting as your “student.” You will perform the whole coaching process with your “student.” This will include displaying your newly acquired skills such as briefing/debriefing, positive communication, and adequately preparing for the jump with both skydiving and canopy skills.
Treat these jumps like the real thing. You will be evaluated on your positive attitude, supervision of gear check, boarding, and in-flight responsibilities, and of course, successful freefall skydiving skills to fulfil your role as a coach. There are specific skills and dive flows during these evaluation jumps, which you will be prepared for beforehand.
What is the duration and cost of the course?
Typically the coach certification rating course takes 3-4 days to complete. However, as skydivers, we know that the weather determines our jumping. Also, if your class has many participants, it may take longer for the evaluating instructor to complete all of the evaluation jumps for everyone in the course.
As for the course’s cost, this may vary depending on where you are going to take your USPA coach course. To find courses, it’s relatively easy enough. Either check out local drop zones near to you. Or you can find a course through the USPA website, under the Upcoming Rating Courses section. Contact the location to determine the pricing for their coach course.
Furthermore, you will need to factor in the USPA coach rating fee and the slots to complete your evaluation jumps. Remember, you will cover the cost of both your jump slots and your evaluators’ slot as well. You may also want to purchase copies of the USPA Skydivers Information Manual (SIM) and the Instructional Rating Manual (IRM). You will need these to complete the course. However, you can find them for free download online, so it is unnecessary to purchase the hard copy of these manuals.
Do you want to convert to a USPA license?
In case, after reading this, you are interested in taking the USPA coach rating, but you are a member of a different skydiving federation. Do not fear! You can make the conversion from your current license to a USPA license and then be able to take the USPA coach rating certification. Depending on your current license, there will be certain housekeeping, such as potential training and fees to the conversion. Although, certainly, while working along with a USPA affiliated drop zone, they will be able to guide you in the right direction.
Keep coming back
Hopefully, this article has helped you learn more about the USPA coach rating and why you may be interested in obtaining the rating for yourself. With the right motivation, soon you will be accomplishing this next step in your skydiving journey! If you have any questions or think this article is missing some important information, please let me know.
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