The most agitating but accurate answer we can give to this question is — it depends.
As we’ve discussed before on this blog, skydiving is 90% mental and 10% physical. Those who succeed have the heart and determination of an athlete, in that they’re able to focus on the task at hand and invest the money and time to stay educated and current. But it most certainly helps to be physically strong and flexible.
That’s why when learning to skydive, the way you take to it depends on a whole bunch of different factors, including your ability to handle high-stress situations.
Getting yourself out the door wearing your own parachute is a challenge in and of itself. Once you’re able to tackle that, you can then focus on the skills you need to be a successful skydiver.
When first getting into the sport, many skydivers suffer sensory overload. There’s adrenaline, fear, nervousness, excitement, new people, new skills, new experiences. The list goes on. It helps to do a tandem jump before you take the ground course so you can be introduced to the sport.
But it’s going to be a mental challenge no matter how many tandems you’ve done because it’s a completely new and highly intense sport.
One thing that really helps in the sport — both for newbies and experienced jumpers alike — is visualization. Before any jump, shut your eyes and go through the maneuvers of what’s expected. Carefully replay the jump over and over in your mind until you feel like you could do it in your sleep.
That way, when it’s time to actually jump, your muscle memory kicks in.
This is also why when you’re training, it’s crucial to stay current. Nerves can play with your emotions and cause you to fly tense, rather than the relaxed state that’s critical of the sport. The more you jump, however, and the more current you remain, the easier it’ll get.
Over time, with practice, your nerves will start to ease, you’ll grow more comfortable with your equipment and the mystery shrouding the sport will start to dissipate.
The other half of the game is, of course, the physical part.
As we’ve said, it helps to be flexible and strong because you are using the pressure of the wind to help contour your body into different shapes to help you fly around the sky.
When you need to fall faster, you have to be able to overextend your arch. When you need to quickly transition from a sit position (a more advanced freefall skill) back onto your belly, it helps to have a strong core.
But unlike an endurance sport, anyone can learn and become skilled at skydiving, though the experience and growth curve will be different for everyone.
As a student, some people will understand different parts of the sport easier than others. One person may be fantastic at exiting the plane and getting stable, for example, but may really struggle to land gracefully.
Another person, may flip-flop around the sky like a fish but then tackle the canopy portion of the jump expertly and land on their tiptoes gracefully.
Skydiving is a personal journey and there’s no reason to rush through it. With patience and practice, some things you’ve struggled with will just start to click over time. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having trouble with a certain component.
And don’t be afraid to ask questions! Skydiving instructors have been through all of this themselves. They’re here to help you transition into this new world of human flight.
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