Cloud Dancer
Freestyle Seminar
World Freefall Convention at Quincy August 1991
Speaker: Mike "Michigan" Sandberg
Seminar Notes by Tamara Koyn


I more recently ran across these old notes on my hard disk and decided to post them to my web site to share with others. The following material does not necessarily represent my opinions and represents my best effort to capture the material actually presented in the seminar. I do not guarantee that it is error free.

What is skydiving? For today's jumpers, it is freefall. We talk about exits, body positions, and control in freefall. We learn what the body parts do in freefall. The mental part must also be there, otherwise you are behind the power curve. The motion of the body makes what happens in the air happen. Specific sequential RW is precise control. Know where neutral is. Then you can make fine adjustments [to affect what motion happens in freefall]. Overcorrecting occurs for the individual who has not found neutral. Tonights guest speaker will be Mike "Michigan" Sandberg. He along with myself (Jerry Bird), and Scotty Carbonne were part of Mirror Image. Our last year was in 1981.

If you try it 20 times, then you can teach yourself how to do it.

We are caught up discussing where to take grips, jumpsuits, etc. Skydiving is a rational thing, there is no magic [that causes particular motions to happen].

Jumping is not natural. We are horizontal beings. Skydiving is you in control of yourself in freefall. Style, RW, Sequential RW is an off shoot of this freefall control. First, you learned the arch. It always puts you to a position you can understand. We are two dimensional on the ground and three dimensional in freefall. We are a vertical being in a horizontal sport. [Mike demonstrates the box man position.] You don't walk with your legs spread apart. After we learned how to walk, our lower body became automatic and therefore we ignore it. This is why student skydivers pay attention only to their arms and upper body. You must learn to use your legs. [Mike demonstrates the RW flat turn about a point with the calfs tilted to one side and the shoulder dipped to the opposite way.] It is hard to get student skydivers to separate their legs. A RW turn will be a roll if your legs are not separated. With your legs separated, your laterally stability is better maintained. Use only your legs to make your RW turn rotate about your chest. Use only your shoulders/arms to turn about your knees.

In freefall, I am three dimensional but exist in a sphere of control and balance. In the Daffy Position [Mike assumes it], your legs control balance on the loop (pitch) axis, your arms balance you laterally, and tilting your hands controls heading the Daffy.

Skydiving is rational, you can figure it it out. Skydiving is a consistent environment. Know the feeling. Go to that feeling. That feeling is different for everybody. However, it requires awareness. Inward and outward awareness are two types of awareness. RW requires outward awareness. Inward awareness is total in the solo environment with heading and altitude as exceptions. Develop the skill in the solo environment then apply it in the RW environment.

Being a world champ didn't change my self-esteem. I got to the pinnacle and it didn't raise my self-esteem.

Daffy came from snow ski. The T position came from the wind tunnel. In there, you can't do much stand up type of maneuvers. In the T, the back leg must be straight to compensate for lack of lift of the other leg which is pointed at the ground.

The skill requires you to think about it. I practiced turns lying in front of a mirror to develop clear visualization. Movement is filled with mannerisms. An Italian RWer waves his hands in RW turns. A Frenchman, who was a springboard diver, tried the swan dive from a airplane and it magically stayed stable. Who knows the future of the sport but it will all revolve around 'you in control of yourself.'

The RW suit is not balanced for freestyle. Freestyle requires straight legs so beef up the arms and slim down the legs. Wear a sweat shirt and spandex pants. An audience member comments, "I saw webbed gloves." They increase force for better torque for controlling your heading while in the Daffy. Viewers will not see initiation of a pirouette with these gloves. Wear wrestling shoes for freestyle. Big shoes are uncontrollable torque.

Have a plan. Listen to the experts and make your own plan. Trouble shoot your idea on the ground before your try it. Try to predict how to do it. I get it the first time. The second time is a flop. I'm thinking about it too much. On subsequent attempts, I try to see it as brand new and I get it. The first time worked because I "had the plan in my eyes."

Go out and flail, try planning stops at certain places. Explore tracking dives and diving dives. Go out last and try to track to the first formation. If you can do it twice then it is freestyle. How do you max learning on a solo dive? Look at a dive as an Oreo Cookie. Cookie half--exit. Cream--freefall. Other cookie half--opening sequence. Sensory overload happens on exit because you change from a vertical to a horizontal being. So plan your exit. Choreograph it. For the freefall, practice a specific skill. For example, work on 90 degree turns with your legs. Fly your body through opening shock. Target these learning areas. Practice feeling exit transition. Target very specific areas. All sports teach specific skills such as a tennis serve and body control. You in control. An audience member commented, "I notice this contraption." It's a gyro. Let's get into physiology. The inner ear contains the vestibular sense used to maintain balance. Rotary motion is sensed by fluid passing the hairs inside the 3 canals of the inner ear. The fluid at the top of canals gets dead as we grow older. Use the gyro to get the inner ear used to rotations. Dizziness will deprive you of your altitude awareness and prevent reading the numbers on your altimeter. An audience member commented, "I experienced vertigo in flight training."

In stand ups, people tend to lean forward because the arch is natural. To stand up, just stand up. Point the feet and place the arms in an overhead "V." You can start back layouts from here. Just shift the legs forward. Do only one.

An audience member asked, "How do you critique yourself?" Be able to do it twice.

I do 2-way video competition with a Guy in CA. It's Compress Accordian, Compress Accordian, Cat, Cat, Side Body, and Side Body.

We are discussing learning basic skills. Do one till you learn it. The closer you can simulate skydiving on the ground the better the learning transfer.

A line drawn from the front top corner to the bottom back corner of the airplane door best represents the relative wind for that aircraft. An angled line that connects the top and bottom of the door indicates a high exit speed and an angled line that connects the sides of the door indicates a slower exit speed.

Say the next formation in your mind when you are in the previous formation to help your memory.

Do stand ups while you are high. They eat up altitude.

In the T Position, the body should look like a T. Placing the arms overhead causes a backslide. Right leg down tends to cause a right turn. A major turn means your leg isn't into the relative wind. First, learn to fly with the knee up. Then straighten the legs and point the toes. Look for air pushing on the leg and push the leg towards that air pressure.

In the Daffy, keep your hips straight. Better leg spread is desired and is also harder for guys. Start with your knee and step in front of yourself. Rotate the hips under your shoulders [on the loop or pitch axis]. Use arms for lateral balance.

Form is everything in freestyle.

Back layouts are more dangerous. Use the arch if necessary. Do one or two at a time. Be rigid when you pass the back down position. [power phase] Hands are at the sides of the body. Relax through the face-down position. [coast phase]

[Mike tells the story of watching old time RWers dive out a luggage compartment sized door. He learned tracking/diving skills from watching the last 3 guys on the video.] Reverse arch on the relative wind then track. Position the legs a little wider than shoulders. Push the butt up into the air. Position the backs of hands toward the ground and lower in front of your pelvis. This automatically rolls the shoulders forward.

Cloud Dancer
© Copyright 1999. Tamara Koyn. All Rights Reserved.