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Focus and concentration in skydiving are vital for both survival and peak performance. Uschi Wagner discusses the challenges we face and suggests some strategies to improve…

Yohann Aby & Will Penny, Flynamik freestyle team, concentrating before a competition jump
Image by Johannes Bergfors

Concentration is the glue that holds everything together

In the core of the skydiving community, I’d like to draw attention to the often-overlooked element that distinguishes amateurs from professionals: the mental aspect.

In this environment where pushing limits is typical, it’s easy to underestimate the mental strength of athletes. Whether you’re an experienced skydiver or new to freefall, the message remains clear: success in skydiving depends not only on physical ability but also on mental focus and determination.

Flynamik perfectly focussed, performing a brilliant freestyle routine
Image by Johannes Bergfors


Concentration, the companion of focus, takes the concept a step further by embodying the sustained mental effort required to maintain attention over time. It’s the ability to remain fully immersed in the task, despite external stimuli and any whispers of doubt within. In the high-stakes world of skydiving, concentration is the glue that holds everything together, allowing athletes to execute with precision even in the face of adversity.


Mastering focus and concentration in skydiving, where seconds can make all the difference, is a necessity. These qualities serve as the bedrock on which skydivers build their mental resilience and skills, enabling them to push the boundaries of human performance. It’s these qualities that separate the amateurs from the masters, the thrill-seekers from the true champions of the sky.


Clouds can be a distraction, it’s important to keep focussing on the skydive.
Image from Power Games at Klatovy 2022, by Antje Grube


External factors, such as distractions in the aircraft, sudden changes in plans and unpredictable weather conditions, pose significant threats for even the most experienced skydivers. Crowded skies in the landing pattern, shifts in wind direction, or unexpected situations all have the potential to disrupt focus and mental clarity in an instant.


Adding to the challenge can be the weight of competitive pressure, as skydivers aim to demonstrate their skills while being observed by spectators, judges, and other competitors. The pursuit of success, along with the fear of failure, can increase stress levels and undermine their ability to stay focused on the present moment.

The pressure of a competition can affect focus and thus impact on performance
Image from Wind Games 2024


Complicating matters further are the physiological effects of adrenaline—the body’s natural response to stress. While initially enhancing focus and reactions, prolonged exposure can lead to exhaustion and brain overload, clouding decision-making abilities.


Skydivers must equip themselves with strategies to preserve their concentration, even in the most demanding and unpredictable circumstances. Cognitive elements are crucial players in the quest for mental resilience. Attentional control serves as the cornerstone, enabling skydivers to focus on essential cues while blocking out distractions. Working memory, the mental tool for decision-making, allows skydivers to process information quickly and make split-second judgments accurately. 

Yet, the demands of skydiving often surpass the brain’s capacity. The constant input of sensory information and rapidly changing environmental factors can overwhelm even the most disciplined minds, leading to a bottleneck in cognitive processing that impacts performance. Understanding these nuances is essential for athletes striving for peak performance. 


To navigate these challenges effectively, skydivers can use a variety of techniques refined through experience.


Mindfulness practice is a powerful tool, encouraging skydivers to cultivate a heightened awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. By anchoring themselves in the present moment, skydivers can strengthen their mental resilience, ignore distractions, and fully engage in their tasks.

Breathing techniques 

Breathing techniques also play a vital role, offering a way to manage stress and anxiety. Deep, rhythmic breathing helps skydivers regulate their arousal levels, promoting calmness and mental clarity amid the chaos of competition or everyday life.

Visualization exercises 

Visualization exercises are a valuable method of mental preparation, allowing skydivers to mentally rehearse success. By vividly imagining perfect executions and positive outcomes, they can boost their confidence and reinforce beneficial mental patterns that contribute to peak performance, in competition or during freefall.

Tailored pre-performance routine 

Creating a tailored routine focused on individual needs is essential for skydivers striving to maximize their mental abilities and excel in the challenging world of extreme sports. At its core, a focused routine relies on establishing clear, attainable goals—foundations that give skydivers a roadmap to success. By defining specific objectives and performance markers, they infuse their training and competitions with purpose, fostering motivation and direction.

As skydivers walk their way to mental mastery, experimentation becomes key. By exploring various techniques and approaches, they can tailor their ‘focus routine’ to suit individual needs and preferences, unlocking the potential for exceptional performance and personal growth.

Maintaining focus distinguishes elite athletes and is also crucial for amateur skydivers preparing for their next jump. Pre-performance routines are key strategies that provide skydivers with a sense of control and familiarity in high-pressure situations. Whether it’s visualization exercises, a brief meditation, or a physical warm-up like a dirt dive, these rituals act as reliable anchors, grounding them in the present moment and preparing them for success.

Experienced competitor ‘BK’ has learned to filter out distractions
Image by Matt Davidson

Selective attention 

Selective attention is another valuable skill, allowing skydivers to filter out distractions and focus sharply on the task at hand. Through training selective attention, they improve their situational awareness and make better decisions in crucial moments.

Positive self-talk 

Positive self-talk is a powerful tool for maintaining focus and confidence, equipping skydivers with a pool of uplifting affirmations to counteract negative thoughts and uncertainties. Additionally, staying relaxed and composed is crucial for sustaining focus during intense activities, with techniques like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation helping to manage arousal levels and stay grounded.

By incorporating these focus-enhancing techniques into their daily practices, skydivers can develop the mental resilience and discipline needed to reach new levels of achievement.

Landon Karaberis, perfectly focussed before a D2W competition round
Image from Wind Games 2024


In conclusion, focus and concentration are essential elements of success. Mastering them requires dedication and discipline, but the benefits are significant — improved mental resilience, enhanced performance, and a profound sense of fulfillment in pursuing goals, both in sports and in life.

As you embark on your journey toward excellence, let unwavering focus be your guiding principle, lighting the way to greatness! 😊 

Training Mind and Body Series

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Check out other articles in our Mind and Body series for skydiving.

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Meet: Uschi Wagner

Uschi Wagner, Managing Director and Accountable Manager of Pink Aviation Services, USPA Safety & Training Advisor, Boogie and Competition Organizer

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