The Skydiving Circle of Awareness

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Skydiving is both quite simple and thoroughly complicated all at the same time. With the right training, conducted in a managed and progressive manner – jumping from an airplane and landing under a parachute is relativeeasy. Without the appropriate training, or attempting skydives after trying to assimilate incomplete or incoherent information can make the whole idea very stressful. It is all about awareness, and your ability to process the information you need, exactly when you need it. Here is a look at one of the foundational techniques used early on in skydive training programs – that remains a vital part of a jumper’s skill set for their entire career.


Skydiving is about freedom. The sensation of freefall is possibly the best thing ever – but one must have certain things in order to achieve it. If you were to jump and then realize you forgot to wear a parachute, that awesome sense of joy and wonder as you fly through the sky might prove elusive. This is a fairly dumb way to put it, but the concept is solid. You need to have everything properly in order to jump successfully – your equipment, your methods, and your awareness. We do this with practice.

skydiving awareness


Muscle Memory

Performing something over and over until you can do it without thought is very, very useful. Skydiving is a good example of an intense, fast-moving situation in which practicing your skills and techniques until you perform them automatically pays off massively. Deflecting the rushing wind off different parts of your body so you can move around in the sky all feels almost backward at first. So we practice. Needing to use your emergency procedures is uncommon, but knowing them in case you do is absolutely crucial. So we practice. Being aware of what is going on around you at all times in the sky keeps you safe and helps you progress. So we practice that all the time too.


Human beings only have so much space in their brains to remember things. Unfamiliar tasks require much more of your processing power to get right, while those more frequently performed require less. Skydiving is far more than just a thing you experience – it is a highly involved sport with an entire lifetime worth of progression to pursue. The goal is to always have enough space in your brain to allow for growth and progression, and this is achieved by drilling your fundamentals until they are second nature. This starts right at the beginning of your training.

Circle of Awareness

When you jump from an airplane you need to know where you are. You need to get out of the plane in the right place to land in the right place, and between these, you need to understand where you are in relation to others – in both freefall and while flying your parachute. The process used from jump number one to build this into your skydiving skillset is called the circle of awareness.

circle of awareness

Look straight in front of you and check your heading:

Knowing which way up you are and which way you are at all times is what you are aiming for. Acting without knowing these things is to be avoided.

Check your altimeter:

Knowing how high you are, and therefore how much time remains in your jump is very obviously something worth keeping track of. 

Look over your right shoulder and check-in with your main-side instructor:

For your first few jumps, you will have two instructors holding you. The one on your right is in charge. Eye contact is a crucial part of interacting with others in freefall and it starts from minute one.

Feel your legs and make sure they are extended properly:

Knowing what your body is doing in the wind can be weird at first, and feeling it without seeing it requires some effort. Most new students bend their legs too much at first – so this is a good place to start.

Look over your left shoulder and check in with your reserve-side instructor:

Your other instructor is assisting, but demonstrating you know they are present is key. They are part of the plan and part of your jump – so you need to know where they are. 


The circle of awareness is a basic process by which you understand what is going on. Where you are, who is with you, what is happening. Getting this established within the foundations of your skydiving will help you to process this information automatically so you can confidently grow and develop with every single jump – and allow you to have a blast at the same time.