Indoor Skydiving is a challenging and exciting experience that only gets better the more you fly. If you are interested in going further in your development as a flyer, becoming competitive will allow you to set specific goals for yourself and enroll in the community of flyers at your local tunnel.
Competitions range from local fun events to international affairs sanctioned by the Federal Aeronatique Internationale (FAI). No matter the scale of the competition, they all include a variety of categories to cater to diverse skill levels. These categories include:
New to flying? You may be interested in small events held just at your home tunnel. Search our Events page to find something near you. Additionally, the Competitions page offers IBA and FAI sanctioned competitions. 3 major IBA competitions are held each year, and are open to flyers of all skill levels. 1 major FAI competition is held each year and only top competitors from each class are able to qualify.
While scale may vary there are some aspects that remain the same:
- All competitions need competitors, judges, and a meet director.
- Once the competition begins, no additional practice or fun flying is allowed. A brief is held to ensure all competitors know and understand the rules, create and/or distribute the Draw (the sequence of moves the competitors will fly for all rounds), give th chance for competitors to ask the judges questions, and if it is a Scrambles meet, pair teammates together.
- Teams are always allowed a single practice round prior to the first competition round in order to determine the appropriate tunnel speed. Practicing the official Draw is normally not allowed at this time.
- Judges should have adequate knowledge of the rules and be able to watch the flights from a location where flyers are in full view, with option for video replay if needed.
- Teams are allowed enough time after the Brief and between each round to practice their sequences before the next round.
While training for a competition, refer to the IBA Competition Rules for additional guidance and more detailed information on each event.
Also be sure to review videos of the dive pools for a more comprehensive lesson. You can find videos on the Skills page, sorted by disciplines.
Formation Skydiving (FS) is a traditional discipline where flyers maintain a belly-down orientation and build formations with accompanying teammates. FS is a common starting ground for new competitors because it does not require advanced freefall skill and provides measureable progress. Competitive FS divides categories by number of team members – 2, 3, and 4 person teams - and subcategories are divided by skill level. These subcategories range from Rookie to Open (the most experienced), and differ by the number and difficulty of formations a team must build in each round of competition. Per current IBA rules, 2-way FS offers Intermediate and Advanced classes, 3-way only has an Intermediate class, and the 4-way events are composed of four classes – AAA Class (Open/Advance), AA Class Intermediate, A Class and Rookie Class.
The tougher the class, the more formations the team is required to perform (see chart below). All formations are part of a Dive Pool – the standard set of moves grouped into Blocks and Randoms. A Random is a single formation with all team members in a specific position, and is equal to 1 point. A Block maneuver begins with a specific formation similar to a Random, then requires a clearly defined move to either the same formation or a different one, it is worth 2 points.
Just before a competition, and once all training time has concluded, a Draw of formations from the Dive Pool is done for each competing event and class. This Draw should consist of 6-10 Rounds (the discretion of the Meet Director) and each Round will have varying numbers of Blocks and Randoms. Each Round will receive 1 minute of flight time, and 35 seconds of said time will be scored. Teams acquire points for accurately completed Blocks and Randoms, and at the end of all Rounds, the team with the most points, wins.
1-3 Judges (depending on the scope of the meet) will score the competition live from the flight deck or from video playback of a top-down or bottom-up camera with full view of the flight chamber. Judges are allowed to re-watch Rounds to ensure they have awarded accurate scores.
As mentioned, each class has varying level of difficulty. The following chart highlights which Randoms and Blocks are assigned to which class, based on the size of the wind tunnel. See the 4way FS Competition Rules for depictions of the Blocks and Randoms.
12' (3.7m) Tunnel
|Rookie||B, D, E, F, H, J, M, O, P, Q||None|
|A Class||A - Q (All Randoms)||6, 7, 9|
|AA Class (Intermediate)||A - Q (All Randoms)||6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 18, 21|
|AAA Class (Advanced/Open)||A - Q (All Randoms)||3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21|
14' (4.3m) Tunnel
|Rookie||A - Q (All Randoms)||None|
|A Class||A - Q (All Randoms)||2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 19, 21|
|AA Class (Intermediate)||A - Q (All Randoms)||2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21|
|AAA Class (Advanced/Open)||A - Q (All Randoms)||2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22|
16' (4.9m) Tunnel
|Rookie||A - Q (All Randoms)||None|
|A Class||A - Q (All Randoms)||2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 19, 21|
|AA Class (Intermediate)||A - Q (All Randoms)||1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22|
|AAA Class (Advanced/Open)||A - Q (All Randoms)||All 22 Blocks|
Vertical Formation Skydiving (VFS) takes Formation Skydiving and flips it vertically so flyers remain either head-up or head-down relative to the net. Similar to FS, VFS competitions split into different events based upon the number of team members participating, with separate categories based on skill. 4-way offers Advanced and Open classes both of which require all flyers to have strong head-down flying skills. 2-way teams have the option of Rookie, Intermediate, Advanced, and Open categories. Rookie teams fly only on their belly and back; Intermediate fly belly, back, and sit; in Advanced 1 flyer must fly head-down; and in Open both flyers must be able to safely fly head-down.
2-way competitions offer 6 Rounds and 4-way usually has 8 Rounds, each Round consisting of a randomly drawn sequence of Random and Block moves, the Draw. Each Round will receive 1 minute of flight time, and 45 seconds of said time will be judged. Teams acquire points for accurately completed Blocks and Randoms, and at the end of all Rounds, the team with the most points, wins.
1-3 Judges (depending on the scope of the meet) will score the competition live from the flight deck or from video playback of a top-down or bottom-up camera with full view of the flight chamber. The complexity of 4-way usually requires it be watched from video. Judges are allowed to re-watch Rounds to ensure they have awarded accurate scores.
Freefly is an Artistic event, where two flyers perform creative routines, going for style rather than speed. The number of Rounds can vary, and each Round is judged live, where the judges use specific criteria to award scores.
Freestyle is the only solo discipline currently held at IBA competitions. Flyers perform both Free and Compulsory routines 60 seconds in length. Exact number of Rounds and composition of Rounds is specific to the meet. Compulsory routines require particular moves be performed, but the sequence and choreography of the routine are designed by the flyer. Routines are sometimes flown to music, adding another layer of difficulty as flyers must fly in sync to the song of their choice.
Creativity and difficulty are awarded in these disciplines as flyers work to amaze and impress the crowd and the judges.
To compose high scoring routines, one needs to understand what the judges are looking for. The judges will give a score between 0 - 10 for each criteria, and the average of the two is the total score for that Round.
Technical: Difficulty, Movement skills, Precision, Control, Teamwork (Freefly only)
- The more difficult the routine with the moves being performed in a controlled manner, the higher the score will be
- All flying surfaces will need to be used in order to gain a higher score (i.e.. flat, back-down, head-up, head-down, sideways, diagonal)
- The routine should show a wide variety of skills
- For Freefly, constant interaction and teamwork will need to be displayed
Presentation: Visual excitement, Originality, Composition
- The routine should hold the viewer’s attention through creative choreography and dynamic variety
- The routine has a definite beginning, a definite ending and full use of the 60 seconds working time
- The routine has a nice flow, there is a high level of originality in the way of new moves and new twists on old moves
- The routine is balanced and well-composed
Dynamic is unlike any other discipline in that it did not originate from a traditional Skydiving discipline. Created by a group of experienced flyers looking for the structure of Formation Skydiving but the creativity of Freestyle, Dynamic competition offers both Speed rounds and Free routines. Dynamic teams are composed of 2 (D2W) or 4 (D4W) people, each person given a specific slot in line where they work to follow one another as they fly the designated sequences. Dynamic rules are currently written for Advanced and Open categories, where Advanced does not have to perform all of the moves in the complete Dynamic dive pool and may only fly Speed rounds and not Free.
Speed Rounds: Flyers go through a specific sequence of a Snake, Vertical, and Mixer (as determined by the dive pool draw) 3 times through as fast as possible, being timed from entrance to exit.
Speed Judging: As flyers move through the sequence, they are required to fly within specific parts of the tunnel. There are two vertical sets of lights opposite one another on the tunnel glass, acting as start and finish lines. On each line is a donut-shaped ring, 2m off the net floor, that work to create an invisible horizontal line across the tunnel. Judges are positioned to view the line and see through the ring, where they work to ensure that the flyers completely cross the lines in Snakes and Mixers and go around the ring during Verticals. Five second penalties apply to Busts ranging from not crossing the lines, to crashing into teammates.
Some Dynamic competitions consist of only Speed rounds. Teams fly 6 rounds, each with a different sequence, and the fastest overall time after penalties have been applied, wins.
Free Routines: Similar to Freestyle mentioned above, Dynamic Free routines are completely individualized 60-120 seconds of flight time meant to display the skill and creativity of the flyers, rather than simply speed.
Free Judging: Judging Free rounds is completely subjective. It is preferred that the judges are people with the skill to fly the discipline themselves, or have extensive experience judging Artistic events. No scores are assigned to this round, judges confer to agree on which team performed a better routine.
Competitions with both Speed and Free routines are flown Tournament style. Teams are randomly placed into Pools where they battle one another in both styles of routines, gaining points for each win. The teams are then ranked based off these points and placed into a Bracket. Each round in the Bracket is important as they either signify going up or down a position, so being good at Speed and Free is very important. Ultimately every team fight their last battle to determine their overall place. The IBA Dynamic Battle Accessory rules provide Brackets for up to 20 teams.
Indoor Skydiving is a young and developing sport that is wide open to new possibilities. There are always new ways to challenge your flying and who says you can’t create your own discipline!
It doesn’t have to be serious either. Flyers everywhere are enjoying tunnel games like:
- Tunnel Ball where 2 flyers work to catch a flying ball as many times as they can within a set working time with the winner being the flyer with most successful catches.
- Pylon Races where flyers race around streamers coming vertically off the net as many times as they can in a set working time.
We invite you to challenge yourself to something new!
If you have questions please feel free to email us.