5. Tips and Tricks

'The truth about sports parents...'


How to 'ride the diving board'

You may have heard your coach say “Ride the Board!” What exactly does this phrase mean? ‘Riding the board’ is a technique that connects the rhythm of your body (in the forward and backward approach) to the timing of the springboard’s natural flex. In essence: When the board goes down; you go down. When the board goes up; you go up.

Springboard diving boards are designed to bend, arc, and create spring. When you are able to coordinate the rhythm of your body to the bend of the diving board, you can ensure a more successful dive. However, learning to ride the board is by no means an easy task. It takes years to master this skill!

Below are some drills that will help you learn this important technique so you can fly high on your dives.

Bounce the Board

In order to learn to ride the board, you have to bounce the board. This takes time and practice. Think about including these drills into your daily routine:

Bounce without Air

Stand at the end of the diving board with your body facing the water. Bend your legs and manipulate the diving board up and down. Do this without having your feet ever leave the board. Feel the timing, flexing, and arc the board creates. You should feel the sensation from your feet, and up through your knees.

Bounce with Air

Stand at the end of the diving board with your body facing the water. Bounce three times, with your feet leaving the diving board. Work to maintain the rhythm of the board: When the board bends down; your body is pressing it down. When the board rises; your body is rising at the same time. If you are doing this correctly, you should be able to bounce three continuous jumps without exiting the diving board.

Adjust the Fulcrum

The fulcrum setting corresponds to a set of numbers that are listed on the diving board. The numbers range from one to nine. If the fulcrum is set at one, the board will bend very little (or not at all). When it is set to nine, the board will bend as much as possible.

Just because the board is at its maximum arc potential, does not mean you will get the maximum height for your particular dive. The timing will be off if the board is too springy for your skill level, body weight, or size. In this case, you will stomp the board and kill your spring. Because of this, it’s important to play around with the fulcrum settings to determine what works best for you.

Here is a general guideline for forward and backward takeoffs:

Forward takeoffs: Try the fulcrum in the middle of the board; around five. Take a few bounces on the end of the board. If the timing is off — the board is coming up when you are going down — move the fulcrum backwards a bit to level six, for example. Keep adjusting this until you get the best timing for your body.

Backward takeoffs: For back takeoffs, the fulcrum is generally set tighter than for forward approaches. The reason for this is fairly obvious: a standing back approach will not generate as much spring as a walking forward approach. Try the fulcrum at a setting that is two numbers lower than your forward takeoff. Practice a standing back press, and determine if this setting is correct for you.

Practice Patience

The biggest mistake divers make when trying to ride the board is rushing. Divers are so eager to perform the dive that often they don’t wait for the timing of the board.

Riding the board takes patience. Not only does it take patience to learn this technique, it takes patience to master it. You must let the board complete its arc before you perform your dive.

Start every practice with a set of five forward and five backward approaches. Here are a few tips to concentrate on while working on this skill:

Forward approach: In the jump of your hurdle, concentrate on keeping your arms above your head until your toes make contact with the board. Only lower your arms and begin your arm circle after your feet have landed on the diving board.

Back press: Rock the board before you raise your arms above your head. When your arms rise, the board should also rise. When your arms swing down, your legs should be pressing the board down. This timing will ensure the maximum height potential for your dive.

Timing is Everything

Riding the board sounds easy, but it is surprisingly difficult to accomplish. Timing is the most difficult aspect. In order to get the maximum height on your dive, you must wait for the board to complete its arc.

Mastering this timing takes both skill and patience. Work diligently, and eventually you will connect with the board and soar through the air!



Top 10 Mental Skills for Divers

At a certain level, divers start winning meets not because they’re the strongest or have the greatest technique. There comes a time when every competitor is strong and well-trained. At this point, the advantage might go to the diver who is the toughest mentally.

The following 10 mental skills can set a diver apart from the rest!

1. Self-Confidence

Want to dive your absolute best? First, you need to know that it’s possible. Your ability to succeed is only as real as you believe it to be. At the same time, though, confidence must be tempered. Over-confidence can lead to complacency. Find a level of self-confidence that is just right, and your diving ability will soar.

2. Goal-Setting

Set realistic but challenging goals. Top divers not only set long-term goals, but also short-term ones. Achievable short-term goals give divers a sense of accomplishment that can help fuel interest and drive.

Further, there are two additional types of goals what will help divers: Process goals and outcome goals. Process goals are things you want to achieve while in the process of diving. For example, these goals might include improving your ripping technique, having tighter form, or increasing your rotation off the board. Outcome goals, on the other hand, are result-oriented. These include winning Nationals or qualifying for Nationals.

3. Detailed Imagery

Before the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Laura Wilkinson had an injured foot and was unable to dive into the water. For training, she had to rely on dry land work and sharp mental ability to picture herself diving. By the time of the Olympics, her foot had healed and she dove beautifully — going on to win the gold medal!

The world’s best divers create detailed mental ‘films’ of their dives. In their mind, they can clearly see themselves performing the dives, exactly the way they want to, down to the very last detail. They frequently concentrate on these mental images. They slow down the frames and see their dives moment by moment. These divers get so into the imagining of the dive that they can practically feel it happening.

4. Focus

The most successful divers know how to maintain focus during diving meets and practice. These divers know how to focus on the big picture (winning a meet), as well as the details (ripping an entry). During competition, this focus is specific to the dive at hand. Top divers know how to pinpoint their focus to achieve their desired results.

5. Positive Thinking

If you surveyed every Olympic diving champion throughout history, they likely all have at least one thing in common: they each practiced positive thinking. Positive thinking is neither buying into fantasy nor having unrealistic beliefs: Rather, it is the knowledge that when you dedicate the work, time, and energy to succeed — you will!

Positive thinking goes hand in hand with confidence and success. It’s choosing to focus on the positive of a situation opposed to the negative. When things don’t go the way you intend, focus on how the situation can help you on your journey (rather than failing).

6. Desire

Desire needs to be your fuel for the days that you are feeling run-down, distracted, or juggling various commitments. Do you really want to get in the water when it is cold and raining? Maybe you need a day off, or maybe you just need to tap into your desire. Remind yourself of your goals, and why you are training.

7. Energy Management

In order to dive well, you have to have the energy and excitement to do so! On the days when your energy is low, you’ll need to psych yourself up. But too much energy — particularly energy from anxiety or nerves — can be detrimental to performance. On days when you’re so keyed up you can hardly breathe, you’ll need to know how to relax. Bring your energy down into a more normal level.

8. Self-Talk

The best divers in the world use self-talk to support themselves, find or maintain motivation, and turn negativity into positive energy. Become aware of the things you say about, and to, yourself. Then take control of your thoughts so they contribute to your success.

9. Stress Management

How well do you perform under pressure? What happens to you mentally when your plans fall apart? The best divers have the ability to re-focus, stay positive, and relax — even when everything seems to be going wrong.

10. Keeping Perspective

Regardless of whether you have a less-than-ideal workout, lose a big meet, or win a National Championship, life goes on! Even Olympians are multi-dimensional — they have friends, family, and non-diving hobbies. Enjoy the highs of your diving career, ride out the lows. You are not defined by what you do in the pool. Keep your diving in perspective.

Mental Sharpness

Try to train these 10 mental skills similar to how you would train a physical skill. Do this, and you’ll not only see an improvement in your diving meets, but also likely get more joy out of the sport.



How to Stay Warm while Diving

On a day that is cold, raining, and miserable outside, the last thing many people want to do is jump into a swimming pool.

For competitive divers though, this is often exactly what must be done. And unlike swimmers, divers are not able to stay in a (heated) pool to keep warm. They must get out of the pool, stand on the diving board in a wet bathing suit, and deal with frigid cold that tightens muscles. The feeling is anything but comfortable.

Although no one enjoys being cold, it is a factor that divers must learn to tolerate. Feeling cold can certainly debilitate your diving strength. However, there are some methods that are helpful to keep you warm and motivated. Below are five tips that can help you stay toasty while diving.

1. Jump in a Hot Shower

The best way to stay warm is to use a hot tub or a hot shower in between dives. Many diving pools offer this option to divers. After your body has been immersed in hot water for a while, the effect lingers. It makes the cold air seem not so bad, and you’ll be able to withstand it for a longer period of time. Jumping into a hot tub or hot shower will keep you warm and allow you to perform your dives successfully — even in the coldest weather.

2. Bring Extra Towels

If you don’t have access to warm water of any sort, plan on bringing multiple towels to practice or competition. While waiting in line to dive, keep your body warm by wrapping it in a towel. When it is your turn to dive, hang the towel on a chair or the rails of the diving board, and perform your dive. It is not as effective as a hot tub, but it will certainly keep you warmer than nothing. To make it so you don’t go through multiple towels, try drying your body off as much as possible with your shammy before you use your towel. That should save you an extra load of laundry when you get home!

3. Use Your Shammy

Divers use shammy’s for all sorts of reasons. It is a handy piece of equipment to carry. Not only does it dry your body off so you can grab your legs effectively, it also keeps you warm. A shammy will not keep you as warm as a towel or a hot tub, but it will certainly help keep the freeze away by drying off the excess water from your body.

4. Bring a Warm Jacket

Warm jackets are excellent ways to stay warm in between dives. Just as with a towel, make sure you first dry the excess water off your body with your shammy. This will help prevent your jacket from getting too wet, too quickly. Another good idea is to use both a towel and a jacket. Wrap up in a towel first and then put the jacket on over your towel. The towel will absorb most of the water and help keep your jacket dry and warm for a longer period of time.

5. Use Cardio to Keep Warm

Lastly, a great way to keep your body warm is to include some sort of cardio activity between your dives. Stay in the pool and tread water, or swim some laps. You can also jump rope on the workout mats, run in place, or do standing jumps — whatever it takes to keep you warm! Diving doesn’t involve a lot of cardio activity. As such, your body won’t likely be warm merely from performing dives.

Diving Comfort

Just about all divers have experienced being cold. It is uncomfortable and can certainly take away from your diving capability. However, as a diver you must know how to deal with cold weather. No one wants to be cold and have their muscles tense up when performing difficult maneuvers. Try the tips listed above and see if you don’t quickly achieve a new comfort level when diving in the cold.



Take It Up - Diving's Most Daunting Words

Originally published: https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/take-it-up/

“Take it up.” The three most daunting words in the language of diving. Why is it that when we hear these three words, our hair ties snap? Why do we have a sudden onset of doubt and fear? This occurs because when it’s time to take a dive up, we break the barrier of our comfort zone. Often, our first instinct is to say, “Can I do one more lead-up before I go up?” Sometimes one or two more lead-ups gives us the reassurance we need to maximize our confidence. Other times, it takes more.

Now, what about those dives where no matter how many lead-ups you do, you don’t feel ready? As Dr. Alan Goldberg, sports performance consultant, stresses, “GET COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE. If you learn to live by these four, very basic words, they will help you take your physical talent as far as humanly possible. By staying physically and emotionally comfortable, staying in your comfort zone, you guarantee that you will stagnate as an athlete…success comes to those who regularly practice stepping outside of their comfort zone.”

Challenge yourself! You’ll be surprised what you are capable of, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.  We all have a perception of what our individual comfort zones are, and we know what actions cross the line. Cross it! You must be willing to make an effort to push your limits. Start from the beginning, and test them. “

Being present and taking it one step at a time will allow for success, Paulina Guzman, former UCLA diver, said.  Begin to make a routine of pushing yourself mentally, physically and emotionally, a little further every day.  Push yourself through adversity.  Do one more repetition, whether it’s an ab exercise or another dive. Lastly, focus your attention on your weaknesses.  It may be difficult to face them, but avoiding them will push you farther away from success.

It is paramount to remember that your coach would not be telling you to “take it up,” if he/she did not believe you were ready.

North Carolina State head coach, Yahya Radman, says, “through my experience, I have found you have to have a rapport. You need to have a rapport with your athletes. When a coach has been with an athlete for while, a communicable bond is formed between the coach and the athlete. The athlete and the coach know what to expect from one another, and know how each other will respond. That being said, among college athletes I have found they do not want to disappoint their coach by failing, which often prevents them from taking the next step. Now, whether you fail the dive or you make it, once you get the dive off, it becomes a lot easier.” 

Trust your abilities, trust your training, and trust yourself! You’ve put in hours and hours of training; don’t throw it all away!

“Take it up was a phrase that always made my heart beat a little faster,” Guzman said. “This phrase is a great test on trust. Your coach believes that you are 100 percent ready to take the next step. It is up to you to trust your training, hard work, and most importantly to believe in your abilities.”

We have much greater control over ourselves than we think. Of course there will be conditions and circumstances out of our control, but overcoming or adapting to the adversity is all part of the journey to success.  

As Samantha Adams, senior diver on the University of Southern California diving team reinforces, “when my coach says ‘take it up’ my initial feeling is fear. However, I’ve learned that the most important thing is to control the controllable. I’ve realized that focusing on my fear doesn’t do any good. By focusing on the things that I can control, I know I will have a better outcome. I’ve learned to trust my abilities, trust my preparation, and trust the process.”

Don’t be afraid to “take it up.” Accept the challenge. Embrace the opportunity.



Five techniques to help you control competition anxiety

1. Establishing your ‘winning feeling’

Think carefully about the last time you were performing at the top of your game, then list every detail you might associate with your ‘winning feeling’. Pick out the eight most important aspects of this positive feeling and write them neatly into the boxes. You can use your winning feeling to help create an optimum competition mindset through consciously reproducing the desired elements.

2. Centering

The second technique is known as ‘centering’ because it involves focusing attention on the centre of your body, the area just behind your navel. Centering has a calming and controlling effect, providing a simple but effective way to counteract the negative effects of anxiety:

  • Stand with your feet flat on the ground, shoulder width apart, arms hanging loosely either side of your body;
  • Close your eyes and breathe evenly. Notice that when you breathe in, the tension in your upper body increases, but as you breathe out, there is a calmer, sinking feeling;
  • Inhale deeply from your abdomen and, as you do, be aware of the tension in your face, and your neck, and your shoulders, and your chest. As you exhale, let the tension fall away and focus on the feeling of heaviness in your stomach;
  • Continue to breathe evenly, focusing all your attention internally on the area immediately behind your navel;
  • Maintain your attention on that spot and breathe normally, feeling very controlled and heavy and calm;
  • On each out-breath use a word that encapsulates the physical feelings and mental focus that you want eg ‘loose’, ‘calm’, ‘focused’, ‘sharp’, ‘strong’ etc.

3. The five breath technique

This anxiety control exercise can be performed while you are standing up, lying down or sitting upright. It is ideally used just before competition, or whenever you feel particularly tense. You should inhale slowly, deeply and evenly through your nose, and exhale gently through your mouth as though flickering, but not extinguishing, the flame of a candle:

  • Take a deep breath. Allow your face and neck to relax as you breathe out;
  • Take a second deep breath. Allow your shoulders and arms to relax as you breathe out;
  • Take a third deep breath. Allow your chest, stomach and back to relax as you breathe out;
  • Take a fourth deep breath. Allow your legs and feet to relax as you breathe out;
  • Take a fifth deep breath. Allow your whole body to relax as you breathe out;
  • Continue to breathe deeply for as long as you need to, and each time you breathe out say the word ‘relax’ in your mind’s ear.

4. Thought-stopping

When you experience a negative or unwanted thought (cognitive anxiety) such as ‘I just don’t want to be here today’ or ‘She beat me last time’, picture a large red stop sign in your mind’s eye. Hold this image for a few seconds then allow it to fade away along with the thought. If you wish, you can follow this with a positive self-statement such as ‘I know exactly what I'm doing!’ Thought-stopping can be used to block an unwanted thought before it escalates or disrupts performance. The technique can help to create a sharp refocus of attention keeping you engrossed in the task at hand.

5. Letting go

You will need to lie down somewhere comfortable where you are unlikely to be disturbed. If you wish, you can also use this exercise to aid a restful night’s sleep. Allow your eyes to close and let your attention wander slowly over each part of your body – starting from the tips of your toes and working up to the top of your head. As you focus on each part of the body, tense the associated muscles for a count of five and then ‘let go’. If this does not relieve the tension in a particular body part, repeat the process as many times as you need to. Once you have covered each body part, tense the entire body, hold for five seconds and then ‘let go’. You will feel tranquil and deeply relaxed.



Your new best friend: your water bottle? - with Amanda Main

Now that the weather is starting to improve so too should your drinking habits, and no, I’m not talking about alcohol or soft drink - I’m talking about water! That fantastic liquid you can get straight from your tap.

While it might not look like much, water is the most important part of our diet. The average human is made up of 55-75% water and research shows that fluid loss has significant physiological effects on the body. If you lose only 2% of your body weight in sweat then this can have a significant impact on your decision-making and performance. Since you have to make lots of decisions during training and competition it is important that your body is adequately hydrated before these activities.

So how can I maximise my fluid intake you ask? Well here are some easy steps:

• Begin drinking as soon as you start exercise (so after you have done your warm-up you should have a sip of water).

• Consume drinking small amounts regularly (you shouldn’t skull a bottle of water because you have started to get a head ache or because you have realised you haven’t had any water all day; drink regularly, every 30 minutes at least).

• Drink something every 15-20 minutes during exercise (yes, one sip counts).

• If it's hot, have more to drink, and also have some Gatorade/ Powerade too.

• Don’t wait to be thirsty (this means you are already dehydrated).

Now, I understand that if you drink too much during training then you will need to go to the toilet or it can be uncomfortable during your dives; that's why you need to have plenty of water during the day and then just have small sips at training, because I know you don’t want to make bad decisions about the timing of your dives just because you haven’t had enough water.

If you're not sure how hydrated you are then compare the colour of your wee with the below chart. Unless you are taking vitamins your wee shouldn’t be bright yellow; this means you are very dehydrated. So start to get better acquainted with your drink bottle and take it EVERYWHERE you go!
















Amanda Main is a qualified Exercise Scientist and Secondary School Teacher. She has a Bachelor degree in Sport and Exercise Science and a Masters of Teaching. Amanda is extremely passionate about exercise, nutrition, health and wellbeing, especially in young athletes. She has worked with a variety of sporting teams over the past 5 years, educating athletes on the benefits of good nutrition and how to optimize performance.

Amanda was involved with the recovery, nutrition and hydration practices of the VIS athletes who competed at the Junior Nationals in 2013 as well as Nationals in 2014.



Setting SMART Goals

Originally published: http://www.olympic.org/content/olympic-athletes/athletes-space/tips/setting-smart-goals/

One thing you are good at but do not necessarily know, is setting goals. As an athlete you do this all the time with your sports program. You have probably heard of "SMART goals". But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for any goal to be achieved it must be designed to be SMART, whether in sport or in life in general. There are many variations on what SMART stands for, but the essence is this:

Set Specific Goals

Your goals must be clear and well defined. You must understand what you wish to achieve. Vague or generalised goals are not achievable because they don't provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way.

Set Measurable Goals

Include precise amounts, dates, etc. in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you actually achieved something.

Set Attainable Goals

Make sure that it's possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralise yourself and erode your confidence. However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. By setting realistic yet challenging goals you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to "raise the bar" and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction.

Set Relevant Goals

Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you'll develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want.

Set Time

Your goals must have a deadline. This again, is so that you know when to celebrate your success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.



Control the Somersault - with Woody Franklin

Originally published: http://diving.about.com/od/forbeginners/qt/somersaultControl.htm

It is a bit obvious to say that the problem with a specific dive, and dives in general, is that some go short, and some go long, however some do go short and some do go long!

With twisting dives, the usual cause for this glitch is the lack of attention paid to the somersault. While the focus of twisters, hence the name “twisters,” is the twist, the real meat and potatoes of the dive is the somersault - the foundation.

Of course, you can’t learn a forward 2 ½ with 2 twists until you learn to rotate around an axis, but typically once a diver learns how to twist, it is relatively easy to stay proficient in this technique.

It’s a Twister, Right

Twisting is important, but the control of the dive comes when the diver starts the somersault. Not that twisting is unimportant, but the somersault sometimes gets second billing because as I said before, it’s a twister. Since the twist adds another element of motion to a dive, it is easy to neglect one element (the somersault) while being concerned about another (the twist).

Again, why is the somersault so important?

The Twist Accelerates the Somersault

Any time a diver begins the twisting motion, either on forward or backward twisting dives, this action will accelerate the somersa