Life on the Edge: A Qualitative Analysis of Performance Factors in BASE Jumping

Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Jamie Shapiro

Second Advisor

Alexandra M. Ross


BASE jumping, Extreme sports, Mental skills, Performance


Interest and participation in extreme sports has tremendously grown over the last decade. Most of the preexisting literature has focused on understanding the motivational factors for participation in such sports (Allman et al., 2009; Brymer & Oades, 2009; Kerr & Mackenzie, 2012), and there has been little research that has sought to investigate the approaches participants take to perform optimally in such dynamic, high risk environments. Since extreme sports environments differ greatly from those of traditional sports, it is worth exploring how participants in extreme sports prepare to successfully navigate the different challenges those environments may pose. Therefore, this study sought to explore: (a) the mental and physical preparation strategies, (b) motivations, and (c) general challenges of participants in the extreme sport of BASE jumping. Participants (n = 7; 2 female, 5 male) consisted of BASE jumpers of various experience levels. Each participant engaged in an interview exploring their motivations to participate, strategies for optimal performance, and common challenges they faced in BASE jumping. Three higher order themes emerged that mirrored the research aims: (a) strategies and practices of preparation, (b) motivational factors, and (c) common obstacles and challenges faced by BASE jumpers. Distinctive findings included: (a) awareness of influences on decision making as a critical mental skill, (b) physical readiness factors, and (c) domain specific challenges of being able to walk away from a jump and being able to cope with grief and loss. Practical implications are considered for practitioners interested in consulting in extreme sports environments.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


39 pages

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