Controlling your Breathing

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Learning to control your breathing is one of the most fundamental skills of doing any activity that requires you to perform under pressure.  

Golden Knights exit their Twin Otter
Golden Knights 8-way

Controlling your breathing will enhance your focus and allow you to achieve a calm state of arousal, widely considered to be the ideal performance state…

Self Awareness

Self awareness is the first step.  Make a mental note of your breathing the next time you slide open the aircraft door and prepare to exit.  Are you breathing normally?  Has the pace of your breathing increased or are you holding your breath?  What about during the jump?

A key to becoming more conscious of your breathing is to breathe in through your nose instead of your mouth. Breathing in deeply through your nose will allow your diaphragm (the muscle located between your lungs and stomach) to expand, forcing air into your lungs and increasing blood flow to and from the heart.

Exhale on Exit

The ride to altitude is an excellent time to practice deliberate breathing control and is just as important as visualizing the jump.  During climb-out, I like to take a few deep breaths as I get into exit position.  As the exit count is given, I take a deep breath so that I exhale as we step off the plane. This helps me remain calm and focused during the first few critical moments when the formation is on the hill.  

Gratification comes instantly after you take a deep breath during the jump”

Golden Knights, World Championships 2014

Plan your Breathing

I also plan on taking a deep breath at a few different points throughout the jump.  To remind myself of this, I’ll use mental triggers such as when I key a formation or when I’m in an outfacing position.  You’ll find that gratification comes instantly after you take a deep breath during the jump. You’ll relax, your field of vision will expand and your focus will become sharper.  

Experiment with these techniques, find out what works best for you and put them into practice. Making controlled breathing a habitual part of your preparation process on the ground and on the way to altitude will have a noticeable and positive effect on your performance in the air.

8-way Series

This is the second in a series of five articles about 8-way, by multiple World Champion Matt Davidson.

Next article: On the Hill

Previous article: Working with your Clone & Piece Partner

Golden Knights discuss teamwork
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Meet: Matthew Davidson

Matt Davidson served for 24 years on the Golden Knights 8-way team and played an important part in their finest achievements, three world records in 1997 and 2015. At 45, he retired from the Army after 27 years and did a season on Arizona Airspeed 4way team.

Acceptance to the US Army Parachute Team (1993)
Multiple National Medals/Titles (Gold, Silver, Bronze Medals), 4, 8, 10 and 16-way (1996-2019)
 3 x World Cup Champion, 8-way (1998, 2011, 2017)
 5 x World Champion, 8-way (1997, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018)
 2 x World Air Games Champion (1997, 2015)
 3 x World Records, 8-way (1997 as alternate – 31 points, 2015 US Nationals – 32 points, 2015 World Air Games – 33 points)
 2 x World Meet 8-way Silver Medals (2008, 2010)
 1 x CISM Military 4-way World Record (2006)
 1 x CISM Military 4-way World Champion (2006)
 1 x CISM Military 4-way Silver Medal (2007)
 1 x CISM Military 4-way Bronze Medal (2011)

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