Confident Vs Cocky In Skydiving

June 29, 2018 4:29 pm Published by

Photo credit (above): Dennis Sattler

In skydiving, decisions need to be made swiftly and definitively. After all, the timeline from the door of the plane to the ground places strict limits on the amount of deliberating we’ll have the luxury of doing. Assertive decisions are, unquestionably, the way forward. There are, however, a couple of different ways to make decisions assertively: confidently and cockily. Decisions of the second variety have a disquieting tendency to result in scars, stitches and hospital stays. Also worth noting: The boundaries of the two, due to the pressures of our sport, can blur.

Since skydiving is the training ground on which we strengthen the decision making in our everyday lives, learning the difference between the two behooves any savvy solo skydiver. Luckily, the keys to understanding them are right there in the words themselves.

Confident: The Word

ORIGIN late 16th century: from French confident(e), from Italian confidente, from Latin confident- ‘having full trust’, from the verb confidere, from con-(expressing intensive force) + fidere ‘trust’.

The origin of the word “confident,” as you can clearly see here, lies squarely in the idea of trust. Trust is quiet and sure. It doesn’t announce itself. It takes reality into consideration (otherwise, it’s faith, and faith is a different subject entirely). It moves forward with awareness and sensitivity, or it says “no” with the courage of its convictions. Trust is cautious because it’s a precious resource that can’t afford to go to waste. Trust is magnetic, too; other people can feel the draw of it, and they react to it as leadership. When we act confidently, we are acting in the spirit of trust.

confident skydiver swoops

photo by Dennis Sattler

Cocky: The Word

ORIGIN Old English cocc, from medieval Latin ‘coccus’; reinforced in Middle English by Old French ‘coq’.

Ever had ‘Coq a Vin’ at a French restaurant? Well: That, dear reader, is a rooster. A rooster, of course, is the opposite of quiet and sure. It’s known for being startlingly loud, unconcerned with who or what hears it and–if its job is to announce the break of dawn–generally wrong about the time of day it’s bumbling around in. Nobody looks to the rooster for any dependable information, but the rooster goes on crowing regardless. When we act cockily, we’re acting in the spirit of a stupid rooster.

After a while in the sport, you get a feeling for what’s being done with confidence and what’s being done cockily. They kinda–I dunno–smell different, even though some things being done confidently are unquestionably extreme. (Witness A Door In The Sky, the stunt executed by the unflappably confident Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet, as opposed to any of the failed heroes landing on their faces on Friday Freakout.) Cocky people tend to either injure or scare themselves out of the sport, where confident people tend to lead its technical revolutions.

There’s a pretty easy litmus test for cockiness vs. confidence if you need to apply the test to yourself or someone you’re about to join on an airplane.

  • First: Is the volume of the decision turned up to hide an insecurity beneath it?
  • Second: Is the person making the decision looking for any kind of attention?
  • Third: Would the smartest person you know agree that it’s a good idea?

If the interaction fails any of the three tests, it’s worth taking a long, hard look at it before you go through with the decision or join in its manifestation in any way.

At Skydive Perris, we pride ourselves on raising confident skydivers who don’t need to be cocky to make waves. Want to join our ranks? We’d love to have you!

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This post was written by Skydive Perris