How to Become a Better Diver
Have you ever watched Olympic divers perform dives off the 10-meter platform, enter the water with barely a splash, and wonder how in the world they got to be so good? Like most amazing divers, the process doesn't happen overnight — it takes a good amount of time and effort.
There is a natural progression to diving. It starts with learning the basic dives, and continues to the more complicated flips and twists. Becoming a good diver takes work, but there are things you can do to speed up the process.
This guide contains five tips that will help you on your journey of taking your diving to the next level.
1. Go to Practice
This may sound obvious, but it is amazing that people actually think they will get better without dedicating the time and energy into their efforts. Practice is essential.
In addition to his full-time studies at Purdue University, Olympic diver David Boudia dedicates between 30 and 40 hours a week to training. This hard work has paid off. In August 2010 at Senior Nationals, Boudia scored over 600 points on his platform performance — the highest score of record. He managed a perfect score on each of his six dives!
Most divers practice for two hours a day, three to five times a week. When you get into the higher levels of diving, you will practice even more frequently. Practice is where you comb through the complicated details of each dive.
It is important to get to practice on time, listen to your coach, and work on the technicalities that are causing you trouble. Although practice is a fun time to talk with other teammates, you need to keep your priorities straight. Practice is a time to work and improve — not a social get together.
2. Emphasize the Fundamentals
The ability to execute dives off the board rests in proficiency of the fundamentals. Below are three areas you should focus your efforts on. If you can master these, moving on to more advanced and complicated dives will follow.
Every practice should start off with solid boardwork. Work daily on your takeoff: Perform multiple front jumps, back jumps, and dives in every position. How you exit the board makes a huge difference in the quality of your diving, and a proper takeoff will help your dive in three ways:
- It will provide you the height needed for the dive.
- It will help you get the necessary distance away from the board.
- It will help you initiate good rotational speed.
The entry is one of the most important parts of a dive. It is the last impression a judge will see, and it is one of the hardest elements to master. You should work on your line-ups, flat-hand grab, and underwater saves every day. The bonus you get from a good entry will pay dividends in return.
Mark Lenzi didn't start diving until he was 16. Previously a wrestler, he was inspired by Greg Louganis to take up the sport. Once he started, he quickly rose up the ladder. Within a year, he earned a diving scholarship to Indiana University, and within six years he won an Olympic gold medal in the '92 Barcelona Games. His remarkable rise up the competitive ladder is unusual, though not impossible. Its foundation was hard work and dedication.
Proper form distinguishes good divers from great divers. This is something that will transform your diving. If you concentrate on making your dives beautiful — straight legs, pointed toes, tight body — you will find success.
Knowing how to do fancy flips and twists is great, but without the fundamentals of board work, form, stretch, and entry — you aren't going to get far. The details are what make diving so impressive.
3. Set Goals & Trust Your Coach
Setting goals is crucial. You have to know where you want to go before you can get there. Write out your goals. Include both short-term and long-term objectives. Work with your coach to determine the best way to achieve those plans.
Trust your coach and establish a good relationship with him/her. You need to have confidence in the advice your coach is giving you. When he/she tells you to try a certain dive, trust that information and give it a try. If your coach wants you to go to a certain meet — it is important to go! Work together and you can and will advance.
Compete as often as you can. Competition makes you stronger. It tests you and it teaches you — even in failure. The sounds, sights, and experience of diving in front of a crowd, makes you dive differently. Your reactions, kick-outs, and entries will all change when adrenaline is coursing through your body.
You need to have these experiences in order to advance up the ladder. Keep an eye out for local competitions, and sign up whenever possible. The more meets you attend, the faster your diving will improve.
Extra work and dedication are essential when things get tough. Overcoming your disappointments and difficulties is not easy, but it is an absolute must for success. For more help on dealing with failure, take a look at the iSport guide, How to Overcome Disappointment in Diving.
Success and failure are great teachers. You need to experience both to progress. If you dedicate yourself to practice — focusing on the fundamentals and gaining mental toughness — you will rise up the competitive diving ladder more quickly than you could have ever imagined.