The Coach Masterclass was everything I expected and more. All of the students were super motivated and interested both in what we were learning from the coaches, but also from each other. Also, the teachers were very open and friendly – there was a lot of room for conversation rather than just putting their knowledge upon us. It was a very organic way in which we learned and approached the subject, beginning a topic and opening a conversation about it, getting different input from people, and then steering that conversation and giving their input about what they think about a subject and giving their approaches.
Castellon was a pretty great place for it because everything is nicely compact. We had food and our lessons at the hotel, and then it is a two-minute walk to the dropzone. Our coaches were Domi Kiger, Will Penny, Petter Stensvold, and Marius Sotberg along with Jasper (van der Meer). Everyone has their own teaching style and approach to things, but everyone agrees on the base rules of stuff – meaning the importance of safety in how everything works. It is nice to have a wider range of inputs and not just one person telling their perspective because there is so much involved.
We were divided into groups of three for the week, and each day we would get a new coach. In the morning we would have lessons and in the afternoon we would jump to apply the knowledge we were working on that day. I feel like each coach contributed their own tips and perspectives. From every teacher, we would gather a specific tool we could then put in our toolbox and use and learn from. The biggest part of the work we did was on awareness. I think that what it all boils down to is your awareness of the factors that go into this particular situation and all of the things you need to think about to make it run smoothly. There are always a million things to think about, and this course gave us the guidelines to be able to open your mind to the variables, to make it comprehensible, and think about how best to pass your knowledge and skill onto others.
A specific part of the course was navigation lessons, and a big part of that for me was cross-wind jump runs. In the theory sessions, we discussed navigation and the jump-run direction, and how you drift in the wind. I was aware of that, I just never realized jump run can very well be completely 90 degrees across from wherever the winds are coming – and the moment you get strong upper winds it is a big factor in where you are going to end up. You should always look at all the details of any kind of jump, and get involved in load planning – but especially when you start doing moving jumps and how much of a difference that makes. Managing personally and creating awareness of your wind directions and speeds – that’s a very big factor in planning.
Our coaches radiated and infected us with the particular mindset they have all built up over the years – that you should always be open to new inputs. Be very safety conscious – but also that ego has no place in this position of responsibility. If you are going to skip on important things just to save your ego, for example, to admit that you weren’t aware of something and just ignore it and do whatever you were going to do anyway, you could definitely end up in a very dangerous situation just because your pride was in the way. We are all here to learn and we all make mistakes. They even shared that at their level they still make mistakes and kind of showed it is okay and that it is very important, to be honest about that and about your weaknesses. My main weakness is probably about thinking everything there is to it all of the time. Having the bigger picture, having the overview. I am very scatterbrained and easily distracted, so keeping the constant structure and taking everything into account at all times is very challenging for me. That´s definitely something I hope will also get easier the more familiar it gets to me and the more I can build experience.
The course definitely made me realize how much of a rookie I really am on the coaching spectrum or the overall level of what´s required to actually do proper coaching, but it also not gave me something to stand on. It made me realize I now have the tools to start coaching and then build from there. If you are considering doing the Coach Masterclass, I think it is valuable for anyone – definitely those who intend to do any sort of coaching either in the sky but also in the tunnel. A lot of the knowledge it infuses you with is the right mindset to have, overall awareness, strong communication, and the correct way approach to complex situations.