How to Perfect the Hurdle in Diving
In springboard diving, one of the hardest — yet most important — elements of performing a dive is perfecting the hurdle off the board. The hurdle is where a diver gets height from the board and is able to execute a dive successfully. It is a fundamental skill that all divers will consistently work on throughout their diving careers. This guide contains three tips that will help you perfect the forward hurdle.
1. Use Tape
For a successful hurdle, the last step in the forward approach needs to be the longest step in the walk. It is in this step that you will gain momentum and height in your hurdle. For this reason, the leg that is used in the last step is referred to as the power leg. This is the leg that drives your hurdle into the air.
In order to have a consistent hurdle each time you leave the board, you should know exactly where to place the foot of your power leg before your hurdle. Every diver has a different gait to their walk and different step lengths. As such, two divers starting at the same point will not end at the same spot at the tip of the board.
In order to determine where your last step should end, use a piece of duct tape as a reference point. Here is how:
- Perform your four or five step approach down the board.
- On your last step, stop and take note of where your foot is.
- Place a piece of tape across the width of the board at that spot.
- From the piece of tape, turn your body so you're facing towards the back of the board.
- With your heels touching the tape, perform your four to five step approach (minus your hurdle).
- Where you end on the diving board is where you should start your approach. You can use a piece of tape to mark this spot as well.
When you start from the correct point, the toes of your power leg should hit the line of tape that is stretched across the board. With a visual reminder of where to place your last foot before your hurdle, it will give you a consistent hurdle each and every time.
2. Focus on Your Knee
During the hurdle, the opposite foot from your power leg raises off the board into a 90-degree angle that is parallel to the diving board. In order to get height in your hurdle, it is important to focus on the placement of your knee when coming off the board. The higher you drive your knee in the hurdle, the higher your dive will be. Here are some good points to focus on:
- In your hurdle, your knee should be parallel to the diving board.
- Your arms should be above your ears, and your head should be in line with your body. Only your eyes should be looking down at the tip of the board.
- When your power leg leaves the board, you should continue to drive your opposite knee up to give you the most possible height.
- At the height of your jump, your knee should come down into the jump position: Both of your legs should be together and prepared to land on the tip of the diving board.
When you land on the tip of the board, your arms should be above your head, and only circle after your toes have made contact with the board. This will help you ride the board successfully.
Greg Louganis, four time Olympic springboard and platform diving champion, perfected the hurdle position. He was able to drive his knee high while maintaining perfect posture and landing at the precise tip of the diving board. He also waited for the board and was able to reach the highest level of spring the board provided. For years, Chinese divers studied Louganis' technique. As a result, the Chinese are a modern powerhouse in springboard diving.
3. Wait for the Board
Waiting for the board sounds so easy, but it is one of the most difficult aspects of successful springboard diving. It takes patience and precision to wait for the board to complete its arc so that you can successfully ride it to the top of its height potential. Here are two areas you should focus on in order to ride the board successfully:
- Posture: Keep your body straight while in the air, and make sure you point your toes. Your shoulders should be stacked above your hips, and your head should be facing forward, with your eyes looking down towards the tip of the board.
- Arms: Keep your arms straight and narrow above your head at the height of the hurdle. Let the board complete its downward arc before your toes make contact.
Ideally you want your toes to contact the board at the bottom of its downward arc. Once your toes make contact, swing your arms in a counterclockwise circle, and let the board spring you into the air. It takes years of practice to perfect this skill. To get a better understanding of this important skill, take a look at iSport's guide, How to Ride the Diving Board.
Reach Your Height
One of the goals in springboard diving is to get the most height off the board into the air. The higher you are in the air, the more time you will have to complete your dive. This will theoretically give you the best chance for success.
In order to get the most height off the board, you must have a good hurdle. The hurdle must be precise, and consistent. It won't come easy. Instead, it will take years of continual practice and hard work. But if you keep at it and use the three tips described above, your consistency will improve and your diving will certainly benefit.