I started skydiving in 2018 and from the first jump I was sold – it was the most amazing thing had ever done. I reached about 130 jumps, and then at the end of the season got hired as a tunnel instructor at City Skydive in Utrecht in the Netherlands. I did a bunch of flying through the Winter and then started picking up freeflying in the sky the next season.
Getting into coaching happened because people simply saw my flying and thought I could teach them to fly like that. Students would approach me and ask if I could coach them, but I really was not sure as at that stage I had no direct experience with coaching at all. I am lucky to have some very highly skilled people around me though, so I started asking about how it works. I was immersed in the sport at this stage, and being coached also. I kind of understood the process, but I was super scared about starting to coach people, as it is a big step and I was feeling unsure about exactly what I was doing.
I spoke to a lot of people, and I was still getting coached myself, but after a while, I felt I could carefully begin to try and pass on my skills. Even with around 500 jumps, this is really not a great deal of experience to do freefly coaching. I had some good guidance, but people were for sure making it clear that this is relatively low jump numbers to have developed the awareness and overall skills really required, and that I should be mindful about the kind of jumps I was doing and how I approached it.
Around this time, I did my first event for Tora Tora. They needed some help so I offered to volunteer – making breakfast at what was then called the Coach Workshop. Even though at that time I was learning a lot from the people around me, I felt I needed a stronger knowledge base to work from – and was keen to engage with any opportunity to develop things in the correct way. Since then I have also worked with Tora Tora for Adventure Boogie a couple of times – helping out and doing video.
I have received some help from the Dutch skydiving federation (KNVvL) to attend the Coach Masterclass. Even before I asked Jasper to see if there was a way I could be involved, he had made calls to the federation and various dropzones about sponsorship and to see if they would invest in potential participants with the idea that it would improve the overall coaching standard within our country. They agreed, and the available budget is being split between myself and one other – covering part of the fee to participate.
The Dutch federation has not given me specific criteria for how to apply myself in exchange for their support, but for sure I will communicate with them about how I am to use what I learn at the Coach Masterclass, and how I can give back to the Dutch jumping culture. The goal of the course is to give coaches a better understanding of how coaching structure works, and it is a huge opportunity to pass that on. That’s really cool that they recognize that and are actually willing to put money into that.
I am looking forward to the Coach Masterclass as I believe it will help me navigate through some of the complexities of what coaching and organising really is. I think a course like this gives you something to hold on to, like a solid base of the right information. You know whatever you are going to be learning is something you can take to heart and really start using because you know it is the right stuff you need to know.
Koen is attending the Coach Masterclass from 9th-14th October at Skytime Skydiving in Castellon, Spain. More information can be found at www.toratora.eu
We will catch up with Koen following completion of the course.