Skydiving Formations

You’re in for an amazing experience any way you skydive. But as with any sport, you can really take it to the next level with enough practice. While it’s fun to see all the tricks and stunts out there, the real focus is on formations in the skydiving community. Formation skydiving involves multiple divers arranging themselves or holding on to each other’s limbs, creating various shapes.

Here are a few ways you can enhance your skydiving experience:

Skydiving Formation Jumping or Relative Work (RW)

Formation skydiving maneuvers have several classifications, the names of which indicate how many persons are involved. Here are a few examples:

  • 4-way sequential
  • 4-way vertical sequential (VFS, Vertical Formation Skydiving)
  • 8-way sequential
  • 16-way sequential
  • 10-way speed
  • Large formations (Big-ways)

Some examples of four-person formations are:

  • The Star – Everyone holds hands & the angle forms the shape of a star
  • Cat – One skydiver holds on the legs of the other from behind
  • The Left-Hand Donut – Each diver uses their left hand to hold the next diver’s left foot
  • Diamonds – Two divers float parallel to each other while one diver floats been them offset by two-thirds of their body length.

There are dozens of skydiving formations you and your team can take. Ask an instructor here at Skydive Taft or your favorite dropzone for what they recommend at your skill level.


Freestyle skydiving is all about pulling cool intricate maneuvers on your own. Typically, a friend follows with a helmet-mounted camera to catch all the action. You can perform tricks like spins and positions. This form of skydiving sometimes looks like aerial ballet or artistic gymnastics but don’t be fooled if it all looks simple. These performances require extensive training and practice.


Another step up in the skydiving tricks and stunts department is skysurfing. Invented by French skydivers on a quest to figure out if a board would behave in the air similarly to how it behaved on the ocean waves. While the sport was inspired by the sea, it more closely resembles snowboarding in the air. With skysurfing, you jump with a special board, similar to a snowboard, and perform skydiving tricks and spins.

Maneuvering the board can be difficult; air resistance is intense at terminal velocity. You should start out with a small board and work your way up to larger boards as your skills improve. The larger the board, the more surface area is impacted by the wind and the more control is demanded of the skysurfer.

Skysurfing carries its own heightened risk factors and requires the development of particular skills. Uncontrollable spins are of particular concern in skysurfing.

Canopy Skydiving Formations or Canopy Relative Work

In these formations, two or more skydivers execute choreographies while their parachute canopies are open. A well-organized formation can be a spectacular site for those on the ground.

Swooping and Canopy Piloting

Swooping and canopy piloting focus on parachute control. In swooping, you increase your descent rate by initiating turns. With this increased speed, skydivers can travel farther distances across the ground.

Wingsuit Flying

For skydiving that really tests what you’re made of, wingsuit flying might be just the challenge for you. You would wear a jumpsuit made of two arm wings and a leg wing which are supported by inflatable pressurized nylon cells. The suit is designed to increase the skydiver’s surface area, thereby increasing lift and allowing you to fly impressive horizontal distances at a slower descent rate. This increases your freefall time.

If you want to learn to fly with a wingsuit, you need to learn how to use your body to control forward speed, direction, and lift. It requires tremendous skill and it can take you years of practice to master the craft and achieve optimal wingsuit performance. Wingsuiting adds several layers of complexity to the sport of skydiving and presents a higher risk of injury.

When Can You Start Doing Stunts?

Coordinating skydiving formations can be challenging, and it can be hard to tell when you’re ready for any skydiving stunts or tricks. Be sure to do your due diligence before attempting a new maneuver during a jump. Talking to instructors and skydivers more experienced than yourself can help you gauge what is required for success and whether or not you’re ready to take on the challenge.

How to Train

The best way to go with is with practice before taking to the sky. Successful skydivers first do something called a dirt dive, which means they practice the flow of a skydive on the ground before taking it to the air. From the outside, a dirt dive can look like just a bunch of skydivers holding hands and moving around in what looks like a weird dance.

An indoor skydiving facility is also a great place to try out new skydiving formations with minimal risk to yourself and others.

The Skydive Taft Experience

Skydive Taft is passionate about sharing the sport of skydiving. Our professional and knowledgeable instructors are committed to providing a safe environment for everyone to learn and have fun. For more information on skydiving with us, check out our packages. Our instructors are also happy to answer any questions about the skydiving formations you can try on your next jump.