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We know how unaware the uninitiated are of this fact, but here it is: Skydiving is the kind of sport you can do well into old age. So why do so many skydivers burn out? Easy: They aren’t keeping longevity in mind. Why don’t you set a great example for your peers on the dropzone and think well ahead? Who knows — maybe all y’all will end up as POPS, SOS, JOS, JOES and JONS one day. Here’s how:
1. Set (and crush) short-term goals
Setting several short-term goals in the sport will motivate you to push your skydiving skills in a way that reliably opens up new opportunities. You can choose simple goals: for instance, checking down the list to earn your next license level. From there, you can set the goal to pickup your Pro rating and tick off a demo jump — or pin a few dropzones you notice on a map that exist in the expanded neighborhood within a day’s drive of your home base.
You can also work towards getting on a team. Even if you don’t have a competitive bone in your body, that’ll wildly increase your skills as you pack in the training competition requires. Heck, who knows: Those skills you rack up might well put you to the podium at the Australian Nationals — or nab you a well-earned slot on a world record skydive in any of a number of disciplines — or start you on the road of an instructor rating.
2. Get out of your comfort zone
Can you believe we’re telling you — a sport skydiver — to get out of your comfort zone? HA, right?! You’d think people like us (the ones, y’know, jumping out of the plane) are already long-since past the borders of our comfort zones. The thing is, of course, that once that expanded envelope of comfort becomes familiar — when you’ve been doing the same once-mega-challenging thing over and over — it’ll become just another mundanity.
The only way out is through — and up. Find new ways to challenge yourself. Go jump with a load organizer, try a new discipline, attend an exotic boogie, get on a team, create more goals…the world is your oyster, but you’ve gotta push.
3. Stay balanced
It’s easy to want to dive right into “Eat-Sleep-Skydive-Repeat” cycle. However, if you want longevity in the sport, you’ve gotta step away and push the refresh button. Balancing skydiving with other sporting pursuits slows down the burnout factor and, weirdly, makes you a better skydiver by building your brain.
What to pick? Anything proprioceptive. Anything active and precise will do. Cross-training ramps up both the strength and flexibility of the body and mind, and that hot combo will put you in a great place to improve your skydiving. Try surfing; rock climbing; yoga; archery.
Pro tip: Learning to paraglide is especially beneficial, as there are plenty of skills that carry over and strengthen each other.
4. Ask for help
Feeling the burnout? Find people who have faced it. Look around the DZ and find a few pros who’ve been in the sport for over a decade. Ask them how they’ve achieved longevity. Their answers might well surprise you — and you’ll know for sure that everyone has felt like throwing in the skydiving towel at one time or another. It’s great to have someone to confide in that’s walked those shoes and has emerged even better on the other side.
Are four points a little overwhelming? We’ll simplify. The heart of the longevity is respect. Respect each other. Respect safety. Respect that you don’t know everything. Along the path of respect, you’ll find a long and joyful career in our sport — and we’ll be there to boogie with you when we’re all on walkers.