How to Mentally Prepare to Go Skydiving for the First Time
There are few things as psychologically frightening as jumping out of a moving plane if you’ve never done it before. Sure, for experienced skydivers, there is nothing in the world more exhilarating. If it’s an entirely new experience for you though, it could come close to giving you a panic attack just thinking about it.
That’s the funny thing about human nature though, as we are naturally drawn to the things that scare us the most. What else could explain the thought process of a person who is scared to death of skydiving, but are adamant that they want to try it?
No matter how insistent you are though about going skydiving, there are definitely going to be some hurdles you have to get over, the large majority of them mental ones. In fact, most people are already physically fit enough to go skydiving with no formal training. The only exception would be people with heart disease or another major affliction. For the large majority of people walking this earth though, the only thing holding them back is their own thought process.
If that sounds like you, and you truly want to go skydiving, then you’ve come to the right place. Today we are going to be going over some things that you can do to help prepare yourself mentally for the big jump ahead.
Look up skydiving safety statistics – This should be the very first thing you do, even if some people recommend you don’t do it. Many people have good reason for recommending you don’t look up the statistics – because they don’t know the statistics!
For example, if you were to look up the statistics for automobile accidents in the US, you might never want to get in a car ever again. Chances are though, you already intrinsically know the rough statistics and risks of getting into a car, and continue to do so on a daily basis.
With skydiving things are sort of the opposite. When you look up the rate of skydiving accidents or casualties, you’ll probably be very surprised to see just how low the numbers are. On average, about 60 people die every year in skydiving accidents. While 60 may seem like a lot of people, it is actually remarkably few given how many people go skydiving each and every year. Most skydiver’s favorite saying is that walking across the parking lot at Wal-Mart is statistically more dangerous than going skydiving. Our personal favorite is that you’re more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than to suffer a skydiving accident. That might just be because we really like coconuts though.
The main point is, that skydiving is statistically so safe, that looking up the statistics for it should be able to instantly put your mind at ease. You’re much more likely to have an accident on the way to the skydiving facility, but if you’re particularly high strung, it might be better not to think about that either.
Call up a few local skydiving operators and ask about their safety records – Hearing statistics on a broad level is one thing, but it’s even more comforting to know that the actual place you’re planning on jumping at has never had any accidents. If a skydiving facility is open for business, then there’s a 99.8% chance they’ve never had any accidents during their years of operation.
As you can probably imagine, skydiving regulations are extremely strict, and even one single, non-lethal accident can see a company’s license revoked forever. Still though, to put your mind at ease, you would be wise to start contacting these companies individually to ask about their safety record and their own personal regulations they have in place on top of the mandatory ones to keep their customers safe.
Talk to people who have gone skydiving in the past – You might be surprised to find that some of your friends have already been skydiving and simply never told you. Consider posting up on your Facebook or Twitter that you plan on going skydiving and are looking for an honest review from someone who has actually done it before. People might start coming out of the woodwork just to share their experiences with you.
Another really interesting thing about skydiving is that people have a hard time not recommending it after they’ve tried it. Even if they were scared out of their mind the whole way down, the moment their feet reach the ground again they can instantly reflect upon how awesome it was. Even if a person isn’t immediately eager to go skydiving the next day, it is rare for someone to go skydiving and walk away with the opinion of “I would never do that again”.
Don’t read countless reports of skydiving accidents – It’s easy for reality to become skewed, when you skew the type of information you’re taking in about a subject. We mentioned before how statistically safe skydiving is and that’s definitely true. At the same time, you could easily go out and find news reports for just about all of the 60 accidents per year that occur on average. If you were to read 60 stories of skydiving accidents, your brain would instantly switch into “skydiving in dangerous” mode.
While we aren’t saying you should discount the fact that skydiving accidents have ever occurred, reading story after story of skydiving accidents is not going to help you mentally prepare for the big jump. If you read 60 stories about car crashes or 60 stories of people choking on peanuts, you would probably never enter a car or eat another peanut in your life. Statistically though, you should be perfectly safe doing both of those things and reading solely about the negative side of either of them will only serve to make you doubt yourself on whether you should actually go skydiving or not.
Find a first time skydiving buddy – In all likeliness, you have a friend who’s in a similar position as you are. They would love to go skydiving but are also pretty scared at the thought of actually jumping out of a plane. A person like that is a perfect candidate to become your first time skydiving partner. It will probably take you both a few weeks to a month to truly come around and be ready to make the big leap. In that time you should be supporting each other to muster up the courage to do so.
Talk over your fears with each other and discuss all of the things holding you back from making the jump. In many cases, people don’t talk about their fears because they are afraid of being made to feel silly about their fears. When someone holds the same fears as you do, all of that stops and you are able to be much more open about the way you’re feeling. Also make a point to keep each other from going down a path of negativity. Don’t allow each other to start getting irrational about the fears involved with skydiving, focus solely on overcoming the mental obstacle associated with skydiving.
Understand that your first jump will be with a trusted professional – Before doing the proper research, many people believe they will just be jumping out of a moving plane all on their own. This is very rarely the case, and if you are at all apprehensive about your first jump, it will certainly not be the case. Your first jump will be performed with a certified jumpmaster strapped to your back to call all the shots. A jumpmaster is someone with at least 500 jumps under their belt, although many have jumped thousands of times already.
By jumping with a jumpmaster, you only need to enjoy the ride. They know exactly when to pull the parachute and can then guide you safely down to the ground. All the fear and risk is removed from the equation when there’s a professional handling everything for you.
We know that skydiving can be a very scary thing to think about for most people, but it doesn’t need to be. Our hope is that we can educate people to the point where they aren’t scared of skydiving, but can embrace it for the fun and exhilarating sport that it is.