Drop the fear of embarrassment and skydive happy

Monday, May 16, 2022

Oh no! You messed up a jump.

Skydiving is an intense sport. You only have a few seconds to get it right, and we don’t get tons of practice. But despite this challenging circumstance, everyone wants to look great and be perfect all the time. Not many skydivers will admit it, but fear of embarrassment is a poignant part of skydiving. And it often holds people back as they cling to a comfort zone.

 

Fear of “ruining” a jump

You hear people say that they don’t want to ruin a jump for other people. There is a sense that jump tickets are expensive, and if you don’t perform, you are wasting money and wrecking someone else’s day.

First, most people are not looking at you. Second, if you do mess up, there is a good chance they are genuinely happy it wasn’t them that messed up. Or maybe they did make a mistake and no one noticed.

Most skydiving groups are supportive and understanding. And if you find a rare group that treats their skydives so preciously that they can not tolerate error, find yourself a better, kinder, and happier group.

Fear of looking bad

Everyone wants to be a superstar and a natural skydiver. However, some people learn faster than others, and it is hard not to compare yourself against other’s skillsets. But if you are comparing yourself to other people, you are stifling your growth and adding undue stress.

If you stress that you aren’t learning as fast as your peers, you set yourself for unnecessary expectations.

Everyone learns at their own pace. Find the joy in growing and learning as best you can. A flower blooms when it blooms, all you can do is provide it with the conditions for optimal growth. The fun is in the process; after all we are flinging ourselves needlessly out of airplanes!

If you stress that you aren’t learning as fast as your peers, you set yourself for unnecessary expectations.

Fear of letting team down

If you are on a team that has worked hard all season, you might experience fear of letting the group down. You work hard together, and you care about their success as well as your own.

If you have worked hard to create a positive team environment, it can be worth discussing. Remember that you trust your teammates and don’t expect them to be perfect; they shouldn’t expect the same from you.

It can help to talk about this explicitly before a big meet. Express any anxieties you have and offer support to others who might be feeling the same way.

Fear of not getting cut

Perhaps you have big ambitious goals or are at a performance-oriented big-way event. You might be afraid of not getting into the next event, or worse, getting cut.

First, realize that the organizers want success for everyone, and they work hard to give all their jumpers that chance. They will work with you to put you in a position for success as much as the event allows.

When you struggle at an event, focus on small measurable goals you can accomplish each jump. Listen to criticism with respect and an open mind, and work your confidence. Finally, keep flying with a great attitude.

In rare cases, you may be at an event too challenging for you or that you are holding back the group. It sucks when it happens, but the failure occurred in mismatching the jumper’s skill to the event. If you are cut, focus on a plan to improve your skills, and stay positive. People will admire your attitude and eventual improvement more than anything else.

If you don’t get that next invite or are asked to sit down, it isn’t the end of your career. Skydiving skill changes and people come back better. Some of our most joyous moments in the captain’s room are when a jumper comes back rocking after a lousy performance.

Identity Mismatch

If you dig deep enough, much performance fear boils down to conflating your skydiving skill with your identity and self-esteem.

First, realize that your awesomeness outside of skydiving in your career, family, and life doesn’t necessarily help you turn a fast 360 in place. Being good or bad at this skill doesn’t reflect on your life choices or values.

It is worth reminding yourself just how utterly ridiculous and joyful it is that we are in a world where we can leap from a plane for no particular purpose. So let skydiving keep the real world in perspective, and let the real world keep skydiving in perspective.

 

Don’t get wrapped up in comparing yourself to others, and don’t worry about other’s opinions of your jump. Instead, focus on the journey, your improvement, and a positive attitude. Challenge yourself without fear!

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I really like Christy's coaching style, it's a great mix of serious and fun, with the ratio adjusted as needed for each person/team. Great organizational skills to keep all the cats herded, and she is skilled and knowledgeable.

» Christine Deglau – Perris Quattro

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