We are proud to sponsor the British female 4-way team, NFTO. They’re proven medal winners already and they’ve been coaching and load organising with us this season. So we thought it would be great to do an interview with them to see how they self-manage their team and what advice they’ve got for others in the wonderful world of 4-way.
1. What’s the history of NFTO and how do you attribute its success?
NFTO evolved out of the original team Bodyflight Isis who competed in 2013, including winning Bronze at the 2013 World Cup in Bosnia. However, due to the controversial nature of the Isis name, we changed our name to NFTO (Not For The Ordinary) after our then sponsor. We, unfortunately, are no longer sponsored by NFTO but they remain good friends of the team, and its a pretty cool name, so we kept the name! However, we are delighted to be sponsored by Skydive Hibaldstow and Skydive Algarve who have the super-fast Cessna Grand Caravans we need for exit training in preparation for the World Champs in October!
2. NFTO are spread all over the world, what complications does that add to training?
Distance can throw up its problems, but like any long distance relationship, with a bit of dedication and planning it can work well! We try to make the most of any time when all of us are in the same country, even if it’s for a bit of tunnel with rigs. There is a lot of travel involved, but it’s worth it! We also try to do extra training even if we are not all together, like 1:1 tunnel practice or 2:2 tunnel camps with Hayabusa (the current 4-way open world champs), to make sure we try to maximise our skills in-between meetups.
3. When you’re not training, do you talk to each other much?
We’re a really close team and communicate a lot. From team admin, such as organizing camps to visualization. Geographically, however, we are somewhat spread out! So initially, when the line-up changed, we sent weekly updates on our own activity when we were not training together. This involves setting our own targets each week and updating on our progress, such as physical activity, visualization and freefall goals. We also send one or two draws a week for
Visualization is a free tool which we value lots – it’s a way to reduce brain locking and improve our knowledge of the dive pool in all its intricate complexities. We look for competition draws from around the world as our sources.
4. How important is it to be physically fit? If you are on a junior team, does it still make a difference?
It’s very important, especially being the British female 4-way team. Our physical fitness makes a huge difference to our ability to train hard without fatigue, which limits physical and mental performance. Strength (relative to your body size and your team-mates’ body sizes) is essential for exits, blocks, and endurance for tunnel-training and long days of back-to-back jumping and running off landing areas. Agility is vital for a lot of the exits and block moves.
For junior teams, the physical elements are less of a priority than anticipation, pictures and stability; but for progression in 4-way, fitness is a big factor. However, it is worth considering the compatibility of body sizes and fitness levels for managing expectations and matching of fall rates, whether a rookie or a pro!
5. Do you have any tips for teams who only have a few weeks of training and no fixed coach?
Choose one or two guaranteed exits, spend time looking at angles on creepers, keep everything standard, and ask for help – there is always someone around that can help. And most important remember to have fun!
6. How many 4-way National Championships have you been to and what is it that you enjoy about the
The nationals always has a great atmosphere, lots of competition to face and it’s a great place to catch up with all your friends. Many of our teammates have also competed in other disciplines such as 8-way and speed skydiving too!
7. In 2016, NFTO won bronze at the World Champs in Chicago. How do you motivate yourselves to go again?
We love the pressure of competition and competing against our friendly rivals, and we know that we haven’t yet achieved our full potential, so we just want to keep going!
8. Lastly and some say controversially, there are some that say a women’s 4-way event is unnecessary. What arguments do you have in support of the event?
The women’s category has changed the face of the sport which was very male-dominated. Before the introduction of the category, there were hardly any female competitors at world events. The introduction of the women’s event effectively doubled the number of 4-way competitors getting international competition experience and thus enabled the improvement of the skill level of the female jumpers. Many talented female jumpers have transitioned into top-level open teams and the female only scores have gone from strength to strength.
The French female team is aiming to beat the open team at their nationals this year. Female teams are also inspirational for up and coming female jumpers. Some of our own NFTO team members were motivated by Claire “Sparky” Scott and the Bodyflight Storm era 10 years ago. The category also provides access to a whole new talent pool and helps to retain female jumpers after maternity.
If the female category was withdrawn it would significantly reduce the number of teams at international events.