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With the 3rd FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving just around the corner, seasoned competitor Roy Janssen gives great advice for keeping focussed…
Competing outdoors gives us those important last 15 minutes in the plane, to do our final mental prep. Usually here you don’t have many distractions and we’re used to going through this routine. But you don't have that luxury at wind tunnel competitions – people are in your space right until the moment you enter the chamber and your round begins. So it can be harder to get in the right head space.
If you have found a good personalized mental prep for jumping, you just need to make a few adjustments to make it work in the tunnel as well…
The difference during tunnel competitions is that there is so much more going on that can distract us. We usually don’t have our own quiet space to sit. There are many people all over the place, lots of noise and many friends that want to have a talk and high-five, TV screens that show our jumps live, and teams entering and exiting the tunnel. We are also not used to going from the waiting area, to the line-up for entering the tunnel, to the flying chamber, while our opponents are just in front or behind us. We must be able to shut all this distraction out and stay in our ‘own zone’.
_those last minutes are mine and I don’t share them with anybody besides my teammates_
During our tunnel training we must practice learning to put all these kind of distractions out of our mind. It is here, in training, where we have to learn it as much as possible. We need to learn how to focus 100% on our next jump or entrance. Of course, the more tunnel meets you will do, the more experienced you will become. You will understand how to adjust your preparation better for the next time. It is always work in progress.
Everyone is different and uses his own way of preparation but some basics are all the same. We all need to focus on the jump itself, and not being distracted by other things or people. All the other things besides the jumps, are NOT important in this moment.
All the other things besides the jumps, are NOT important in this moment.
What I do is the following; I make sure that after creeping I keep the jump ‘fresh’ in my mind. I regularly repeat it, not at fixed times or a set number of pages but just enough to feel confident and without having brainlocks. I don’t waste more energy than necessary on the mental prep in this phase. At our 15-minute call we creep one more time and I really focus on all the moves and details.
From that moment I go in ‘lockdown’. I stay relaxed but at the same moment I am very focused for my next round. I don’t let anybody unnecessary come into my zone. I ‘see’ people, I shake hands, laugh, but no-one will get me out of my concentration. Maybe people will think in that moment that I am not very social, well, so it is. Having fun, cracking jokes, drinking beer can also be done after that round or at the end of the day. But those last minutes are mine and I don’t share them with anybody besides my teammates. During that time I try to preserve as much energy as possible, my body is very relaxed but my mind is sharp and ready to attack the next jump.
Lining up just before the flying chamber and seeing other teams coming out, it doesn’t affect me; I am in my own world at that moment. Going through the door and seeing the other team flying, I always pay attention that I take care of my breath and heartbeat. Physically I want to be as calm as possible but mentally sharp as a knife. In that moment, the only thing that I can think of is the jump ahead of me and giving my very best. While flying, I can only think about the jump, and when the light flashes my job is done. From here on, I am back to ‘normal’ again ;)
Physically I want to be as calm as possible but mentally sharp as a knife
I also don’t waste time and energy on things that are out of my own control. For example, ‘will my opponents have a good or bad round’? I just focus on the things that I can control. What also helps me, is to remember the reason why I am here, and that I enjoy the fact to compete against others. Learning to ‘love the fight more than the win’ helped me for sure to put things in perspective and that helps me to stay calm and focused.
Everyone deals differently with stress situations and we all have to find our own way in this game. You need to test what is good and what is bad for yourself. What can be great for one person is disaster for the other. But trying to figure this out in training will help you a lot, and will prepare you better for the next competition.
Kick ass at the World Cup and beyond! ;)
Find Roy at his Facebook FS Coaching Page