The Benefits of Dryland Training in Diving
Who doesn't like to jump on a trampoline? Bouncing, flipping and landing on a trampoline is very fun. When it comes to diving, it's also a very productive activity. The sport of diving has greatly advanced thanks to the addition of dryland equipment, such as trampolines with harnesses and diving boards with harnesses over foam pits or port-a-pits.
Dryland training is used to help a diver learn, practice and perfect particular dives. The various apparatus let divers hone in on particular skill sets that are causing them trouble and/or learn a dive that is too terrifying for them to try in the water.
Today's diving programs often spend almost half of their practice session on dryland training. The reasons vary, but here are four reasons why dryland training has become so vital in advancing a diver's skills.
1. Isolate Diving Skills
Perfecting diving skills is not as easy as repeating a dive multiple times. Often, when a diver is performing a dive over water, he is concentrating on the dive, not the particulars that make the dive great.
Specific little things such as the arm swing or the position of the body on takeoff are the critical difference between a dive that is good and one that is great.
Some skills that are critical in diving but are much easier to isolate and practice on the trampoline include: the hurdle; arm swing; balance on the end of the board; body positioning on takeoff; spotting; and kick-outs.
All of these skills can be practiced and mastered on a trampoline or dry board. Using spotting rigs with ropes and pulleys and a spotting belt or twisting belt are also extremely valuable. Pinpointing those times when to kick out of a dive, or the exact movement the arms are making in a particular dive are critical to diving success.
2. Reduce Fear in Diving
Let's face it, diving off a 10-meter platform, or even a 3-meter springboard, is scary! Before trying a new dive on springboard or platform, trying it on the trampoline first, in the safety of a spotting belt, builds confidence.
Six months before the 2000 Summer Olympics, Laura Wilkinson broke three bones in her right foot. In a cast from her foot to her shin, her Olympic dreams seemed dashed. But her coach refused to let her give up.
Practicing for up to six hours a day in a cast, Wilkinson worked on her takeoff on the top of the platform. She practiced dives underwater to avoid putting pressure on her foot. And she used dryland facilities along with visualization techniques. On the day of the Olympic finals, Wilkinson did the unthinkable: She won the gold medal on the 10-meter platform.
With an experienced coach manipulating the equipment, divers can attempt that reverse 2½ tuck without the fear of smacking incorrectly into the water. A "smack" is when a diver hits the water on his back, stomach or side. In other words, a belly flop or back flop. Smacking can produce welts, bruises or worse depending on the way the diver hits the water and the height from which he was diving.
Avoiding a "smack" by learning the dive in a belt goes a long way towards building confidence. It also gives the diver the ability to know exactly when to come out of the dive, how to reach for the water, and where his/her spots are during the dive.
For divers, one of the biggest fears is getting lost in a dive. This is when a diver does not know where his/her body is in relation to the water. It is a terrifying feeling knowing the water is coming, but not knowing where you are going to hit it. This often happens in twisting dives. By using a twisting belt, divers can learn the feel of the dive as well as learning where to spot in the particular dive, thereby reducing that risk of getting lost in the dive.
3. Loss of Pool Time
For many diving teams, pool time is precious and often not available. Because diving teams share pools with counterparts such as swim, water polo and synchronized swimming teams, finding that rare few hours in the pool can be challenging. As a result, pool time is often compromised.
By having access to dryland facilities, divers are still able to get their practice time in without the interference of pool conflicts. Divers can work on almost all dives on trampolines or dry boards with the help of spotting rigs. Even without spotting equipment, most moves can be accomplished to a varying degree on the dryland facilities.
4. Weather & Diving
Unless you have access to an indoor pool, diving in the winter poses problems. Although diving is performed in the winter (collegiate diving season is in the winter), cold bodies do not make for happy divers. Unlike swimmers who can stay in the water and therefore keep relatively warm, divers need to get out into the frigid air, pause and perform their dives. Cold weather can lock muscles and make it hard to perform. Often, divers have access to warm showers or a hot tub that warms up the muscles. However, getting them too warm also causes problems.
Dryland training helps alleviate that situation. It's good to devote one hour out of the two-hour practice to dryland training. That way, divers are not missing out on their practice but do not have to freeze for two hours either. If there is lightening and diving is not safe, an entire practice can be completed without having to get into the water. By having access to this valuable equipment, divers do not have to miss out on their training.
Dryland training focuses on almost all the critical aspects of diving: The hurdle, takeoff and rotation. The only area with which dryland training can't help is the entry. Perfecting that rip entry can only be done with time in the water. Nevertheless, many divers have used dryland training as a main source of practice and have had amazing results.