Drop the Fear of Embarrassment and Skydive Happy
Features | Jul 13, 2022
Drop the Fear of Embarrassment and Skydive Happy

Christy Frikken

This article appeared in its original form at furycoaching.com, the website for Fury Coaching, which provides skills-development services to individual skydivers and competitive teams.

Oh no! You messed up a jump.

Skydiving is an intense sport. You only have a few seconds to get it right and 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 common and unfortunate part of skydiving. And it often holds people back as they cling to their comfort zones.

Fear of “Ruining” a Jump

People often 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 paying that much attention to you! Second, if you do mess up, there is a good chance that the other people are genuinely happy that it wasn’t them who 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 its skydives so preciously that they cannot 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 more quickly than others, and it is hard not to compare your skillsets against those of others. But if you compare yourself to other people, you are stifling your growth and putting undue stress on yourself.

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!

Photo by Karen Lewis Dalton.

Fear of Letting the Team Down

If you are on a team that has worked hard all season, you might experience fear of letting the group members down. You work hard together, and you care about their successes, 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 it 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 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 that you can accomplish on 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 that is too challenging for you or where you are holding back the group. It sucks when it happens, but it’s not your failure—your skills were simply mismatched 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.

Photo by Karen Lewis Dalton.

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 others’ opinions of your jump. Instead, focus on the journey, your improvement and a positive attitude. Challenge yourself without fear!

About the Author

Christy Frikken’s first 4-way team had only three members and was called Tenacity. She has since lived up to that first team name, competing on dozens of complete teams, including SDC Rhythm XP and Perris Fury.  Frikken, D-28865, currently lives in Perris, California, where she spends her time competing, coaching and writing for her blog. Jumpers can contact her at christy@furycoaching.com.

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