After years of saying, “One day I’m going to go skydiving”, you’ve finally taken the biggest and most challenging step: You’ve made the booking. The “one day” now has a definitive date and it’s likely you’ll experience a spike in your heart rate along with feelings of nervous energy as you contemplate exactly what you’ll be doing. The good news is that you’re not alone – the majority of people who skydive feel this way – not just first-timers! 

 

Feeling nervous is actually a positive thing; it’s how you harness those nerves that dictates how you perform when the pressure is on. Similar to competing in sport, our best performance comes when we are able to quiet the mind and focus despite the drumming beat of our hearts in our ears. Of course, the key to doing this is preparing for the moment before the moment arrives. In this article, we’re going to review the best ways for you to mentally prepare for your skydive. 

 

Step 1: Watch Videos 

 

It’s likely you’ve never been skydiving before, so in order to mentally prepare for your skydive, you have to know what’s coming which means watching some skydiving videos. What we want you to watch is not the free fall, (once you’re in free fall, you’ll be loving it), but what happens in the plane. There’s a lot that takes place in the aircraft that leads up to your exit depending on the aircraft you’re in (we fly a Cessna 182 and a Beechcraft King Air). 

 

If in the King Air, the following will occur: 

  • You’ll likely to board first which means you’ll be one of the last to leave
  • At approximately 8,000 feet, your instructor will begin the process of getting connected to you… things will start moving quickly at this point.
  • There is a red light and a green light near the door controlled by the pilot. When the red light comes on, it’s a signal to “get ready.” When the green light is illuminated, someone will yell out “DOOR!” indicating that the rear door is going to be opened.
  • With the opening of the door, the energy shifts in the cabin, and those closest to the door are preparing to exit and are looking out. You will feel the cool air rush into the cabin and your adrenaline and heart rate is going to spike.
  • As the light turns green, those closest to the back of the plane prepare to exit, and as they do, they literally disappear. There is immediate movement towards the back of the plane as tandem skydivers and their instructors get ready to jump. Everything within you will be fighting to not move so quickly towards the back.
  • It’s surreal to see people leaving the plane, but as it comes to your turn, you will be quickly poised in the open door prepared to leave. 

Tandem skydivers excited about jumping into freefall over Mossel Bay, South Africa in the Western Cape

As you can see from what’s described above, it’s a bit scary but these are the images you’ll want to watch as you prepare mentally for the sequence of jumping from approximately 8,000 feet because everything progresses quickly. As you watch our videos, it’s likely your heart rate will quicken as you face the reality of what’s to come. Now that you’ve seen the videos, there are two important techniques you’ll need to do. Visualize and breathe. 

 

Step 2: Visualize and Breathe 

 

If your heart rate is elevated while watching the sequence of exiting the plane, this is a good thing – let’s embrace it and work through it. The first step is to visualize yourself in the back of the plane and think through all of the points mentioned above. As you think through each step, focus on your breathing, and breathe through the nerves. Take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. Try to slow down your racing brain. Breathe in and out again. 

 

What we are describing is what the world’s best athletes do in preparation for competition. Performing at the highest level goes beyond the physical practice; mental preparation is as important as anything else. 

An experienced skydiver jumping from a plane over Mossel Bay near Cape Town

Step 3: Visit Our Location in Advance

 

If you are someone that suffers from a fear of heights or feels that making a skydive is extra nerve-racking, you may wish to consider a third technique – visiting our operation when we’re skydiving. Seeing people walk in from the landing area with huge smiles on their faces and feeling jubilant helps immensely. What’s even more helpful is seeing people who don’t exactly fit the mold of who you’d expect to see skydiving – and loving it! If they can do it, you can do it, too! 

Training classroom at Skydive Mossel Bay in Garden Route, South Africa

If you’d feel most comfortable chatting about the entire skydiving experience, we’d be happy to speak with you about it and answer any questions you may have!