The focus for a record

The Record Jump, Preparation, Execution and Psychology

1) Introduction

When making a record jump, a competition jump or a serious training jump, you want of course to perform as good as you possibly can. Whether you can achieve that goal depends on the skills that you have earned so far but also very much on your ability to apply all your skills at the best. Particularly, getting unlimited access to your skill is the most important matter.

2) It is all in the Brain

Of course, you need physical skills like, for instance, strength endurance and quickness. The optimum access to your skills is almost only a matter of your mind. Often you can experience those jumpers who have been performing well in training are showing poor performance or even failure in competition. It does not necessarily have to be this way. – Before an important jump, you always must remember that you have been able to perform well and will be able to do so again if only you focus on repeating that performance.

3) Limiting Factors

Whether you are able to perform at your best mostly depends on your ability to focus on the most important matters in every moment of the jump and to avoid every thought that can draw attention off that task.

4) Preparing for the Jump

If you want to perform a successful jump, it needs to be well-prepared. At first the general order of the manoeuvres has to be determined and then the special tasks of every jumper need to be specified.

4.1) Structure of the Jump

Assuming the equipment is prepared and in order, the preparation of the jump categorizes into the following stages: briefing (organizing the jump in a talk) – waiting time before taking off – climb to altitude – time before and while exit – airtime – landing – packing – debriefing.

4.2) Briefing

Briefing begins with the determination of the general course of the jump and then specifies the tasks of the individual jumpers in detail so that all participants work on the project in a way that goes along well and makes the jump run smoothly.

4.3) Mental Briefing

After briefing, while you are waiting for your call, you deepen your tasks by going through them in your mind to reinforce your memory. There are two different ways to do so: First: You imagine the course of the jump from your own point of view, or second: You imagine the jump as a spectator from outside. – For some people, it is useful to take a little break before taking off for relaxation.

4.4) Final Preparation

While the aircraft climbs to altitude, you repeat the jump mentally to burn in the most important points of the forthcoming jump.

4.5) Regulation of Your Potential of Excitation

During the climb to altitude, especially shortly before exiting, you want to optimize your mental state. To be able to display at your best, you must not be too nervous but also not too calm. In a record jump, everybody is as nervous as he admits. There is a simple breathing technique to influence your potential of excitation. If you find yourself too nervous, you breathe in deeply and quickly and concentrate on breath-ing out slowly. If you find yourself too calm on the other hand you do the opposite, you concentrate on breathing in deeply.

4.6) Focusing Your Mind

To assure that you can perform at your optimum level through the whole jump, you have to always concentrate only on the momentary phase of the jump. Any thought other than that reduces your concentration on the crucial things and makes you perform below your potential. As an example, I want to describe the course of a CF-bigway jump:

4.6.1 If the standby command is due, you briefly check your equipment to assure that you can depend on it and go into a suitable position for an undisturbed set-up for exit. Your thoughts do not go any further than taking the best position.

4.6.2 As soon as you notice the exit sign, you go directly into your designated position. Your thoughts are focused only on this and the readiness for jumping off the plane.

4.6.3 When jumping off the plane, you focus on the right intensity direction and body position.

4.6.4 Now that you are in freefall you concentrate on pulling the pilot chute at the right moment, maintaining a stable body position to guarantee an on-heading opening. As soon as you have pulled, and the chute begins to inflate, you are prepared to control the direction of flight already in the phase of opening to be ready to avoid a possible collision and bring your canopy on heading (flight direction of the air-craft you exited).

4.6.5 Having done, so you head towards either your set-up position for your final approach or your waiting position in the echelon. Doing this, you want to use the shortest possible way and avoid getting into other jumpers’ way or to collide with others.

4.6.6 Having reached your waiting position, you concentrate on follow-ing the jumper in front of you to get into your own designated set up position. That means you must focus on different tasks:

4.6.7 Keep an eye on neighbouring jumpers and avoid collisions.

4.6.8 Maintain the best possible position for your further flight as close to the formation as desired to always be in a perfect set-up for your final approach as soon as the jumper in front of you has started his final approach.

4.6.9 It is important that you find the right timing to be in place to dock shortly after the jumper in front of you to avoid waste of time.

4.6.10 While docking, you must take care to present your canopy in a way that the grips can be taken well and in the right order.

4.6.11 If a grip has been taken, you check immediately if it is correct and shout out hints for correction if necessary. At the same time, you need to be prepared to catch the next canopy that is docking on you and make sure that you take proper and secure grips.

4.6.12 From now on, you concentrate on your body position and canopy trim to make sure that you are flying well with the formation.

4.6.13 When the breakup command comes, you have to pick up the count to be prepared to let go at the right moment and pilot your canopy out of the formation on the required path.

4.6.14 Now you guide your attention on avoiding others and finding a safe landing area. It is important to know the wind direction soon to make a safe landing and avoid obstacles.

4.6.15 After landing, you should pack your canopy as soon as possible while thinking the jump over and calm down to be prepared for a constructive debriefing and analysis of the jump. In a competition, the de-briefing should be omitted because the recent jump cannot be changed and time is too short for changes. The next jump should be the top priority.

5.1 Avoiding Disturbing Thoughts

Any thought about what can go wrong or what to do if something goes wrong must be avoided under all circumstances. They only draw attention from doing everything the right way in order to make no mistakes (that might have to be corrected).
Of course, you should practice emergency procedures and compensation of mistakes from time to time so that you are always prepared and cannot be taken by surprise.

5.2 Focussing on the Current Phase of the Jump

All this means that during the whole jump, you take care to only focus on the things that are happening right now to be able to spend your undivided attention on them. Everything that has been done cannot be changed any more, and bridges further down the road are to cross when you reach them. Only a certain amount of anticipation is allowed as far as it is necessary for being ready for the very next task. All other thoughts are taboo.

6.0 Further Hints on Good Performance

Speed in terms of having a short split time is much more a matter of timing determination effectiveness and anticipation than a matter of speed or flying fast. To get to your first waiting point quickly, after your canopy has inflated, you turn to your designated side of the formation and try to adjust your level already on your way to the first waiting point. To do that efficiently, you need to be current with the techniques to do so. When you are in the echelon you continuously adjust your position in reference to your desired position for the final approach and your neighbours always using the most efficient method to do so be-cause it is necessary to occupy as little space as possible to keep the echelon tight and the way for following jumpers short. The last matter to save time is the perfect timing for the initiation of your final approach. When the jumper in front of you is about to start his own approach to the formation, you maintain adjusting your position and watch him closely. Now you have to know how soon after him, you stark your flight to the target. That needs to be before he has docked if you want to be really fast. Once you are on your way, you must not only fly the perfect pattern, but also be aware that he might abort his approach and avoid him in a way that brings you back into a reasonable new waiting position for your own second attempt. Of course, abortion of a final should usually not happen because it messes up the whole line and can only result out of imprecise work.

7.0 Conclusion

If all participants in an important jump, follow these rules, it is most likely that it becomes a success.

This article may be published, even parts of it. Any copy must be unchanged and must include the name of the author.

Peter A. Pfalzgraf

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