Published: July 9, 2018
Skydiving is a physical sport. Or so it may seem. But there's another aspect: the psychology of skydiving.
It's pretty funny how most first time skydivers perceive the side effects of skydiving. Most people assume they'll pass out when the door opens. (They don't. Far from it, in fact. You'll likely be the farthest you have ever been from passing out.) Some folks think they'll pee. Others are pretty sure they'll toss their cookies. None of the above are likely, especially if you take good care of yourself before the jump.
The physical side effects of skydiving generally sit on the "glowy and satisfied" side of the fence. The aftermath you might not anticipate - but sure will notice, believe-you-me - are the psychological effects of skydiving. Those phenomena have knock-on effects throughout the rest of a skydiver's life, and most of us sport skydivers spend our careers in tireless pursuit of them.
Skydiving Side Effect #1: Harder
Y'know that feeling you get of total invincibility? Like you could try anything you wanted to and succeed; like there's nothing on this planet that could conceivably stop you? When you land from your skydive, that's the first thing you'll feel. Something about getting out of a plane a-way-up-high in the atmosphere and pirouetting gently down to land gets the human brain in that space - and, even better, keeps it there.
As you advance in your skydiving, you'll notice yourself becoming more and more mentally resilient. We need to consistently exhibit the ability to focus, channel our energy to the task at hand, and actively manage our bodies' natural fear responses. As we firm up these skills, we become noticeably better at this whole "life" thing.
Skydiving Side Effect #2: Better
Even the most dedicated professional skydivers freely concede that you don't necessarily need to be a very physically strong or flexible athlete to be a good skydiver. (It helps, of course!) That said: most skydivers cheerfully work hard on getting better, mentally and physically, on and off the ground. Optimization, optimization, optimization: It's such a common refrain on the dropzone that it could be seen as a side effect of skydiving.
Skydiving sets ablaze a passion that helps to clear the thick brush of discomfort, stress, fear and listlessness that plagues every human person. Insecurity turns to ash. So do excuses.
Skydiving Side Effect #3: Faster
Skydiving has yet another psychological reward you might be interested in (though you'll need to get a few jumps under your belt to feel it): It trains your brain to make better, faster decisions. Learning to skydive cultivates a certain poise and readiness in the face of stress. Over and over, you'll teach yourself tricks and tools to relax and be calm - as you launch yourself into a high-pressure environment where you need to be very alert, energetic, vigilant and focused.
As it turns out, skydiving is an ideal training ground for optimal stress management, which removes the roadblocks and speed bumps in your decision-making path. Over time, skydivers learn to find and sustain an optimal level of arousal, where we're alert without being overstimulated. We then use these same skills all the time in life on the ground: handling bad news; driving in awful conditions; making a public appearance; starting a challenging conversation. It's super-useful stuff to be just a little quicker on the uptake than you used to be.
Skydiving Side Effect #4: Stronger
Strength, in a very material way, is just the outer display of inner self-control. In skydiving, we use breathing control, positive self-talk, visualization and pre-performance routines to strengthen our performances.
As you can imagine, these skills are not just useful in the skydiving environment. These are life skills that strengthen us in every engagement with the challenges around us - from the physical, to the social, to the academic.
Are you interested in the psychological ways skydiving can make you harder, better, faster and stronger? We'd love to show you the reward roadmap! Come to LISC and get started with a tandem jump! You'll rocket to the top of the class, we're sure. And not just in skydiving.