While any experienced skydiver will tell you that it takes thousands of jumps to really feel like you’re getting somewhere, the fact is that the average time a person spends in the sport of skydiving is just 5 years. That owes to a number of factors, of course, but much of the attrition points straight at one thing: burnout. How can a skydiver fight burnout? How do you keep the fun in the sport? How do you move up the peaks and down the valleys and stay fresh? Here are our best tips for skydiving athletes who want to stay happy and engaged in the sport.
In skydiving, there is ALWAYS something to learn. Whether you decide to pick up a new freefall discipline or super-super-dial-in your canopy flight, seeking great coaching can help you push past those plateaus. (Hot tip: We have some of the world’s finest coaches here at Perris.) Give it a try!
The tunnel, of course, is a great tool to progress in freefall skills. Don’t stop there, though. Balancing skydiving with other sporting pursuits–like surfing, rock climbing, yoga, archery, or anything else on the endless list, really–slows down the burnout factor. Learning to paraglide is especially beneficial, as the two sports triangulate human flight in a really dynamic way. Cross-training amps up the strength and flexibility of the body and mind, putting you in a great place to improve your skydiving.
Setting goals in the sport helps push your skill set in a way that can open the door to new opportunities. The goals could be simple: for instance, earning your A, B, C, or D license. They could involve picking up your Pro rating and doing a demo jump. You can also work towards getting on a team, which will allow you to increase your skills as you train to compete. Those skills could propel you to the podium at the U.S. Nationals; get you a well-earned slot on a world record skydive in any of a number of disciplines; help you snag a gig as an instructor.
Make A Post-Goal Plan.
Many jumpers tucker out after reaching their “ultimate goal”–for instance, a world record–because of all the time and money they’ve thrown into reaching. It’s exhausting and, well, expensive to hit a big bad goal, right? The post-goal moment, however, is a great opportunity to push through a mega plateau and help give back to the sport. Try planning post-goal pursuits such as coaching, load organizing or helping with a local DZ event. (Don’t forget, too: There’s always another world record to break!)
Enjoy the process. So many people are in an enormous hurry to be “awesome,” and there’s no more direct path to burnout than the one that misses the view along the way. We’re tempted to think that we’re seeing such a quick turnover in the sport because newer jumpers aren’t being sufficiently patient with themselves.
Look around the DZ and identify a few professionals who’ve been in the sport for over a decade. Talk to them about how they’ve pushed past the burn-out factor. Their description of their progression might surprise you–and it’ll confirm for you that everyone feels like quitting at one time or another. It’s great to have someone to confide in that’s walked those shoes and has come out shining on the other side!