It’s fair to say, we love our skydiving competitions (and we’ve been hosting the UK National Championships since 1996). In that time a lot of teams and individuals have competed and we’ve observed a few tips about what makes them a success. Today an article was published at Skydive Mag all about the psychological side of competition titled “Coping with Pressure” :
So here’s a few extra notes on some of the tips discussed we thought you might like to add in addition 🙂
Most teams typically only last one or two seasons together, so dealing with pressure can be tricky when you haven’t got many team jumps together. It’s often what you do outside of the UK Nationals that counts the most. For example, the art of visualisation helps a lot in reducing brain locks, bust formations or improving the slickness of a routine.
The problem is that you have to show some willing on a mid-week night after work to do your homework and have a look through some of your better training vids.
We’ve all done it, we’ve all had a decidedly average skydive where the plan didn’t happen and lots of silly mistakes were made. If it happens in competition, it’s a different matter and the natural course is for you to worry about you’re next skydive being the same. Most competitors want to put their best performance in and match or exceed their training.
This is when understanding the concept of compartmentalisation really comes into its element. You have to care enough about your competition to hit the reset button and block out those worries as you climb to altitude in the airplane. This can be done with breathing techniques, looking at your old training vids and to a certain extent “forgetting those bad memories” of the duff round.
It also helps to talk it through with your mates (if you have them) and mutually agree to move on. If you genuinely do that from the heart, all the subconscious non-verable communication we do will be positive too. It’s about building confidence in a non-perfect world of competition.
You could argue that being fit and strong when you’re a Rookie class 4-way time isn’t necessary, but perhaps it is. If you’ve only got 30 training jumps planned over a couple of weekends together and you’re not particularly fit or strong, then you’re going to get tired quickly. The learning you make on those vital days will be recognisably reduced. Being fit doesn’t mean being able to run a full Ironman, it’s about being supple and energised enough to cope with your training whatever level you’re at.
If you’re doing 12 jumps a day with back-to-backs, then fitness is going to be way more important, especially when it’s the final few jumps at the end.
If you ask some competitors, the enjoyment and pleasure they get from a skydive only presents itself after you land. That can be regarded as living in the past. However, if you’re truly engaged with your discipline, you should be able to really savour the moment of freefall too. That enjoyment aids morale, concentration and performance.
There are some who would say, it’s only skydiving, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But when you really care about your team and you’ve sacrificed a lot of time and money, it does matter, a lot!
So when the green light goes on and you prepare to exit, think to yourself “I can do this, I’m in the zone and I trust my teammates”. Don’t be desperate or panicky and lastly, concentrate as hard as you can on the task hand. If you’re enjoying your competition, you’re a lot less likely to let any pressure affect you.