Let’s face it: Skydiving isn’t easy, especially when you’re just starting the sport. You may be a natural at freefall, but struggle with canopy patterns or landing, or vice versa. Or you may be nervous enough to have trouble getting out of the plane at all.
The important thing to remember here is that many highly skilled skydivers had trouble with at least one aspect of skydiving when they were learning to fly. (My issue was landing patterns; what’s yours?) Hey, if every bit of skydiving was easy to pick up right away, we’d all get bored and do something else! I’ve known quite a few world-class skydivers who initially couldn’t force themselves to exit at all, or who battled bad landings, or who had trouble staying stable. They were able to get through it and excel, and so will you!
Also, remember that a dive that has to be repeated isn’t a waste; it still counts towards your total number of jumps needed for your license.
“With the right attitude, you probably learned more from a jump that did not go as planned than you would have if it had gone perfectly,” adds instructor Hank Prewitt. “You will have plenty of jumps that do not go as planned (during and after training), but as long as everybody is safe and you learn something, it is a good job.”
When your instructor utters those words you were hoping not to hear: “Let’s try that dive flow again,” don’t despair. Instead, run down this list of tips and make sure you’re fully prepared, physically and mentally, to repeat that level and knock it out of the park.
- Make sure you are physically ready for this jump. Learning to skydive isn’t easy even if you’re in top shape, so trying to fly when you’re not in top shape is a detriment you don’t need right now. Consider that if you’re feeling sick or exhausted (or both), you won’t perform at your best, and is skydiving really something you want to take on in a compromised state? If you’re overly tired from an all-nighter at work or play, or if you’ve got a cold or worse, consider taking a break for a couple of hours or waiting for another day when you’re healthy. If you’re hungry or dehydrated, take care of those physical needs before you get ready to fly again. Make sure your body’s taken care of so your mind won’t be distracted by physical needs or problems.
- Study the dive flow again as often as you need to memorize it. If you can’t remember what to do when, you definitely won’t be thinking of how to do it with proper technique.
- Take some quiet time to relax and visualize the skydive. Visualize the good parts of your previous dives, and fill in anything that needs improvement with visualization of proper technique. Don’t replay mistakes in your head, or you’re more likely to make them again.
- Practice, practice, practice. Walk through the freefall and canopy flows as realistically as possible, and ask your instructor to help make sure you’re doing it right. Definitely practice even if you’ll be leaving for the day and doing the jump later; this way you’ll have the right information and visuals in your head to consider in the day(s) between then and your actual jump. If you’re battling with a particular freefall skill, your instructor may even suggest that you practice that skill in a wind tunnel for a few minutes before your next jump.
- Put yourself in the right frame of mind to succeed. If you’re nervous and fidgety, find someplace quiet to sit for a few minutes, breathe, relax, and focus on good visuals of good performance. You got this. 🙂 If you’ve had trouble with forgetting things, study until you’re fully prepared. If you’re angry about repeating the dive or about something that happened outside of skydiving, take a few minutes to sit someplace quiet and put that out of your mind so you can focus on the jump. Listen to the tips your instructors give you on mentally preparing to skydive, because getting in the right frame of mind to fly well is just as important as a good gear check.
With all that preparation under your belt, you’ll be ready to rock that next training jump!