Growing as an Instructor, One Year at a Time

By Emily Aucutt

As I write this article, Christmas is only a few days away. The new year is right around the corner. However, as you’re reading this it’s probably closer to the start of the 2024 season – still a good time to be setting some jumping based intentions.

This time of year often makes a person reflective. It’s always nice to see people’s social media posts around this time, summarising the year they have had – not only the experienced jumpers, but also freshly A-licenced skydivers that, this time last year, hadn’t even booked a ground school.

It’s also a great time to look forward to setting goals and aims for the year ahead. Those that know me are aware I’m not much of a planner. However, I’m taking a different approach this year. I’m making some new year’s resolutions, with inclusive coaching and instruction in mind. I’ve listed them here in the hope that you might join me and make your own, whether you’re a coach, an instructor or a fun jumper. We all play our part in making dropzones more welcoming and accessible.

  1. Stay curious

One thing is true, no matter how knowledgeable you are: you don’t know what you don’t know. I want to be more open and inquisitive to issues that affect other skydivers. I’d like to learn more about the barriers that people face in the sport. I’d like to have more conversations, with more people, about the EDI issues that affect them.

  1. Stay mindful and self-reflective

Everyone on the dropzone has a part to play in making people feel welcome. We often see things through our own lens, meaning it’s easy to miss the ways our words and actions might affect others. In 2024, I want to try to be more mindful of my own language and actions, and try to reflect on how these might have an effect on others, for better or for worse.

  1. Have more challenging conversations

Sometimes it feels easier to shy away from difficult conversations. I have realised, however, that having conversations around issues such as race, religion and gender represents an integral part of addressing EDI in our sport. This is also probably the best way to help learn more and work towards number one – stay curious.

Next year, I resolve to listen to – and, in doing so, learn more from – people with backgrounds different to my own, and hear about their experiences in our sport.


  1. Advocate

It’s great when you look around a dropzone on a busy summer day and see so many people having an awesome time, jumping together and enjoying the sun. In 2024, I want to try and look around and notice who isn’t there, and to ask myself why. What barriers do people face that I haven’t even thought of? Which of these barriers can we do something about to make skydiving more accessible?

2023 was an amazing year for so many reasons, and I have no doubt that 2024 will follow suit. Bill Gates once memorably said that “we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can do in a year” – personally, I’m excited to see what we accomplish between now and the next “Spotify Wrapped” season.

Let’s make it a great one together!


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