So, you’ve signed up for an AFF course, how can you do your best?
Andy Pointer, CCI and AFF instructor at Skydive Algarve has the answers…
An AFF course is a big investment in time and money, so here’s how to get the most out of it. Preparing beforehand can avoid you having to repeat levels, and see you a qualified skydiver before you know it…
1. Get physical
Start stretching off your arms, legs and back each morning. Even better would be to give yoga a crack! You can be the fittest athlete or body builder in the world, or you could have spent the last 10 years on the sofa. When you start out skydiving, it’s a largely level playing field in terms of fitness in that early stage.
However, the thing that can make a big difference to how successful you are on AFF is your flexibility and something called kinesthetic bodily intelligence. Simply, how aware you are of the movements and positions of parts of your body during performance. So ideally, give yoga a whirl. Failing that, at least get stretching! (Note: stretching video at end of article)
2. Mental prep
The intensity of the freefall learning environment is pretty tricky to prepare for. There isn’t much like it in the world – which I suppose is why you’re interested in AFF! You can gain a rough idea of the visuals you can expect by spending some time looking at the amazing footage on offer on social media and video hosting websites. Just be careful not to dive down a rabbit hole. There are some pretty scary episodes out there if you dig hard enough, and that’s probably not doing wonders for your mindset. Try to find some good examples of AFF videos (maybe ask around the DZ) and leave it at that.
Other than that, in the days running up to your AFF, try to have as few external stressors as possible. Get all the chores done and get your bills paid, so that during your course you can throw yourself in to it wholeheartedly, and not be worrying about the ‘real world.’
3. Tunnel time
If you can spend 10 minutes in a wind tunnel before your course, it lowers the risk of needing to repeat AFF levels. Many students get through AFF seamlessly without using the wind tunnel, so it’s certainly not essential. But it does give you a strong platform to learn from once you move to the sky – and it’s great fun!
If you do go for this option, make sure you mention to your tunnel instructors that you have an AFF course booked, so that they can teach you the correct body position and turn inputs!
4. Read the small print
Read your booking paperwork properly. Spend a little bit of time reading the boring stuff to make the fun stuff easier and stress-free. Make sure you understand your insurance policy, especially if you are choosing to do your AFF outside of your country of residence. This can have a big impact on the extent of any medical cover should an incident happen. Make sure you understand how you to dress for your ground training and then your jumps. For example, you should show up for training and jumping in comfortable clothing and trainers. Loose jewelry or restrictive clothes will make life harder. Make sure you know what equipment you’ll be able to use before you start buying (Tip 6 – you can’t wear a GoPro on your AFF). All of this information is readily available. I guarantee it. But it’s up to you to spend the time reading it!
5 Be sociable, be sensible
Our sport is a hugely sociable one. In the evenings, when it’s too dark to skydive, we love talking about skydiving instead. We love doing that even more if there is beer involved. Immerse yourself in this new circle. Make friends, listen to the stories, share in the ‘beer fines’ for new achievements – you’ll definitely be contributing soon enough. This is part of the experience of entering into this world and doing your AFF course. But remember what you’re here to do. Be sensible. Your instructors won’t be too impressed if you rock up at 8am for the morning refresher training stinking of Sambuca. Take my word for it!
Article by Andy Pointer, Skydive Algarve
You may (or may not) like to try these skydiving warm-up exercises…
Video by Axis Flight School