Have you ever heard the saying ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint?’ The idea is that there are instances, goals, and activities where steady pacing is not only encouraged but is imperative for success. This is pretty apt advice when it comes to skydiving. A slow and steady progression in the sport is favorable to bursts of interest and progress. In skydiving, you don’t want to be a fireworks display that burns out fast and bright.
Getting your A license was taxing. It was a commitment: mentally, physically, and financially. It was definitely a commitment when you think of the sheer amount of time you invested in attaining your goal: six hours of ground school training, days spent deterred by rain, hours waiting through weather holds for the skies to clear, and the few visits you spent watching others enjoy the blue skies when the winds weren’t quite right for students. It’s been a push of go-go-go up to this point to achieve your license. For some, this breakneck pace will be kept up until they hit that hallowed 100 jump mark, but what then? Or even before then, what now? Honestly, in skydiving, there is bound to be something else just beyond your reach, and the best way to succeed is to prepare yourself for longevity in skydiving. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
This first tip is equally as applicable for those who work in the industry as for the newly licensed. One of the best ways to avoid becoming burnt out by something is to diversify: get out and experience other things! Sure, you’ve discovered skydiving is a hobby you love: you think about it, you dream about it, you can’t go without it! And you have met some great people doing it to boot. You may have heard the proverb that says, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” So, why not take a bit of a break to reaffirm your love for skydiving? One of the best ways to do this is to spice things up and enjoy a few other activities with the people you’ve connected with through skydiving.
Luckily around Skydive San Marcos, there is plenty to do. If the clouds aren’t cooperating, you can always head over to The Meadows Center to enjoy an eco-tour, a glass bottom boat tour, or Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Or if you feel like something a little more physical, there are canoe and kayaking tours down the San Marcos river with Paddle With Style. Or you know the bowling speech you were afraid to hear? The speech that goes “skydiving isn’t for you. Maybe you should take up bowling.” Well, it seems jumpers do enjoy having a few brews and hurling heavy round weighted objects down oiled lanes to crash on impact into pins. It’s just an idea. The goal is to get out and take a step back. Skydiving can be your first and primary love, but it really is nice to do other things too.
There is scientific evidence that strategic breaks help to refresh your mind and body. Meg Selig recipient of a M.A. Ed. in counseling at Washington University in St. Louis and author of “Changepower!:37 Secrets to Habit Change Success” advices that cessations of activities with the intention of returning to them can give your brain and body the boost it needs to return to the task with greater productivity, motivation, and enjoyment! To restore your motivation to pursue a goal, you need to take a break from it. With skydiving, this could look like struggling to nail a transition from Head Up to Head Down, striving to hold a steady and stable sit while taking a dock, or feeling frustrated by a certain block on a 4-way you can’t quite get to work. We advise you to DO SOMETHING ELSE! Go and make a ‘fun’ jump. (Yes, we get that almost all jumps are fun!) But, what we are suggesting is a purely ‘let’s get out and smile/have a good time’ skydive. Any frustration you’ve built up over not achieving just what you intend to will slough away. Because the only intent is to enjoy the jump, and we are sure you can manage that!
Exploring new things is physically and cognitively stimulating. Sure, one discipline may capture your heart, but as we keep advising, try new things as well. We mentioned diversifying earlier, and this applies to disciplines within skydiving too! Maybe at one point, you thought you would never don a wingsuit, but you have gotten a solid base in tracking and understand body flight (like how to be stable, understand a heading, and not fly up jump run). It might be time to slip on that nylon dress and try it out! If you primarily Free Fly, maybe take a day to do some Relative Work 4-ways or 8-ways. If you have only done Relative Work, maybe ask a safe and competent Free Flyer to take you on a two way to work on holding a sit. Or you could even take a day (or more) to work on your canopy skills! Plant seeds in different disciplines, you may be surprised where you begin to bloom.
Your A-License was just the beginning. Go for your B, or C, or D! Once you feel prepared, begin exploring how to get your coach rating and assist other jumpers. As you accumulate jump numbers, time in the sport, and experience, consider getting a tandem rating. If you are working at a drop zone, dabble in other areas of the industry. If you are a tandem instructor, consider getting on the other side of the camera as a videographer or pursue the training to become AFF instructor. Essentially, we suggest that you don’t pigeon hole yourself. New positions offer new opportunities for growth.
We hope these tips can keep you active in this sport for many years to come, and as a measure of good faith, we will let you in on a secret (if you don’t believe us just ask around) there are plenty of people around the drop zone who have felt just like you! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Each seasoned jumper probably has their own tips and tricks for keeping active in the sport. One they utilize just might do the trick for you. Longevity in this awesome sport is the goal. Don’t forget it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
“How Do Work Breaks Help Your Brain.” April 18, 2017. Meg Selig.