Is Skydiving a Sport?

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

A lot of people think of skydiving as just a once-in-a-lifetime experience; an item to check off of their bucket list. But really, it is SO much more than that. Skydiving is a sport that many enjoy regularly whether it be for fun, for competition, or both! Yes, we all consider ourselves athletes, and some of us are even sponsored by major companies such as Red Bull.

If this is the first time hearing this (or reading it), then you might be wondering how skydiving came about and what type of sport it is exactly. Here are the ‘deets’ on some skydiving history, skydiving as a sport, competitions, and how the sport is growing!

When Did Skydiving Start?

skydiving historyWhen did skydiving become a sport? It might shock you to know that skydiving has been around since the 18th century when the first parachutist on record – André-Jacques Garnerin – leaped from a French hot air balloon with a homemade parachute.

However, some would say that skydiving even dates back to ancient China, when the Chinese used to jump from high places with rigid umbrella-like structures for ‘funzies’. Since then, skydiving has evolved over time and significantly with the invention of modern parachute technology and continuing education for skydivers – like Safety Day – making safety the number one priority for the skydiving industry.

What Type of Sport is Skydiving?

Skydiving is labeled as an extreme sport. Extreme sports are activities perceived as involving a high degree of risk which usually include high-level speed, heights, physical exertion, and specialized gear. Other examples of extreme sports would be surfing, mountain biking, and snowboarding.

This is no secret within the skydiving community, we understand the risks and take them very seriously. This is why skydivers go through rigorous training and why innovators and manufacturers are consistently improving skydiving equipment and technology.

Skydiving requires constant focus, a calm mind, and confidence. As soon as a skydiver exits the airplane, the timer starts ticking down – it’s a race against the clock. They need to have the awareness and reaction time down pat to handle anything that pops up during the skydive, even when everything goes perfectly.

If things don’t go perfectly, skydivers are highly trained in emergency procedures to get out of a sticky situation. This means they must have good judgment to make split-second decisions and razor-sharp skills when executing those tasks. And with the ground quickly approaching, you can say it puts the pressure on. So, is skydiving an extreme sport? I think so!

Is Skydiving a Competitive Sport?

Absolutely! The skydiving competition scene is robust with world-champion skydivers who are extremely dedicated to training every day to be the best. For some competitive skydivers, this is all they do! From being world-champion skydivers to coaching others to be world-champion skydivers – they’re knowledge is truly one-of-a-kind. What a career!

solo skydiving | Skydive TecumsehSkydiving competitions are held all over the world with beginner-level competitions held at your local dropzone, mid-level competitions, National Skydiving Championships, and even World Championships!

Several competition skydiving disciplines can be performed individually or on teams and can vary between freefall skydiving (formation skydiving, vertical formation, mixed formation, artistic freestyle/freefly, wingsuiting, and speed) and parachuting (accuracy landing, canopy formations, and canopy piloting). Most skydivers will pick a discipline that speaks to them while along their skydiving journey and stick to that but some venture off and compete in several different categories!

Is Skydiving a Growing Sport?

Yep, skydiving is more popular than ever before. Why? We’re not sure! But we can guess that it has something to do with the popularity of capturing epic, eye-catching adventures for ‘the gram’ or other social media platforms. It might also have something to do with the booming indoor skydiving industry. With indoor skydiving facilities – or wind tunnels – popping up everywhere, people are becoming more and more interested in tandem skydiving and even getting their solo skydiving license!

A huge contributing factor to the growth of our sport could be the consistent improvements to skydiving safety, with 2023 marking the “safest” year in recorded skydiving history. Of the nearly four million skydives made last year, 10 of them resulted in fatalities – making the fatality rate for skydiving about 0.27 deaths per 100,000 jumps. Tandem skydiving has an even better safety rate of one fatality in every 500,000 jumps over the last decade. Both 2021 and 2023 saw the fewest fatalities on record since record-keeping began in 1961.

Whatever the reason, roughly four million skydives were made last year at more than 230 United States Parachute Association-affiliated skydiving centers across the country. The USPA has about 42,000 members (and counting) along with about half a million first-time tandem jumpers annually. We are super proud of our incredible community of skydivers who are dedicated to making our sport more welcoming for everyone!

Ready to try skydiving for yourself? Flex your bravery and book a skydive with Michigan’s #1-rated skydiving center, Skydive Tecumseh! Blue skies.

Tandem Skydiver in freefall at Skydive Tecumseh

Skydiving for the first time at Skydive Tecumseh was by far one of the greatest experiences of my life. No matter how high maintenance I was before the jump when I was scared, every single jumper employee did everything they could to make my experience unforgettable. I have already recommended here for many of my friends wanting to go with me for their first time on my next round!

Christine Kardel