Monday, April 28, 2008

FUNdamentals, FUNdamentals, FUNdamentals

Now that the summer diving season is right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to remind all coaches -- especially first-time coaches about the importance of teaching FUNDAMENTALS to your divers.

The biggest "coaching" mistake I see from young and inexperienced coaches, is trying to teach young divers "hard" dives when they cannot do the "easy" fundamentals of our sport. I am talking about "GOOD FORM" -- that is legs straight, feet together, toes pointed -- and VERTICAL entry with little or no splash. It makes no sense to teach a young diver difficult dives if they cannot keep their feet together on an easy dive. In the same way, it makes no sense to have a young diver do a front double somersault and land in the water like a bowling ball when that same diver could do a Front 1 1/2 S.S. and go straight in the water -- these are COACHING ERRORS that simply will not score well from the judges. Keep in mind that higher judges' scores almost always beats higher DD (Degree of Difficulty). It is almost always better to do an easier dive well than to do a hard dive poorly.

Make a habit of spending the first 10-15 minutes of your summer league practice (every day) teaching divers "Good Form" and teaching them how to enter the water as close to vertical as possible. Make a game or a competition out of it to keep the kids interested and to trick them into learning the "boring" stuff that will pay big dividends in the long run.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Please Stand!

A diving coach is, in reality, a teacher. The job of a teacher is to help, encourage and assist your students to learn the subject matter that you are presenting. In this case, your subject matter is the sport of diving. As a person who teaches diving, you need to find the best way possible to reach the students in your classroom (the pool).

There is, in my humble opinion, no right or wrong way to teach diving (safety excluded) -- every diving teacher is different and every diving teacher has his or her own methods to get the lesson across to the students (divers). Experience has shown me that a student is more apt to learn in an environment where the teacher is enthusiastic about the subject matter being presented and I feel strongly that a diving teacher who STANDS during practice has a much better chance of displaying that enthusiasm to his or her students (divers). A coach who stands can be more animated and can better demonstrate techniques; can walk over to the diver for some one on one discussion; can jump up and down to celebrate the learning of a new dive or to show dismay at a diver who repeats the same mistake again. In essence, a coach who stands can bring some energy to the classroom (pool) and this can really benefit the students (divers).

Think back to your school days and recall how boring it was to be in a class where the teacher just sat at their desk and read notes for you to copy in your notebook. Now recall those classes where the teacher was a bundle of energy and you could not wait to get in there and learn! NOW GET OUT OF YOUR CHAIR AND START COACHING!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reflections on Coach Lyden

While attending the funeral for University of Kentucky Diving Coach MIKE LYDEN, I was impressed (but not surprised) by the large outpouring of support from his friends and neighbors, the UK Athletic Department and of course from the diving coaches around the country. However, I was most impressed at seeing many if not most of Mike's current and former divers.

I believe the true measure of success for a coach in any sport is the positive impact he or she has on their athletes long after they have competed for the last time. Mike was more than a great diving coach -- he was tough, driven and very demanding both inside and outside of the pool. He required his divers to do well academically and to be in top physical condition. He instilled in them discipline, attention to detail, a work ethic and most importantly, he taught them to be winners. This was quite evident as I looked around the room and saw table after table of physically fit, well-groomed, well-dressed productive members of society who have carried with them the lessons learned while diving for "Iron Mike."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Iron Mike Memorial Fund

As most of you know, MIKE LYDEN -- one of the finest diving coaches in the United States lost his battle with cancer on Friday April 11, 2008. A memorial fund has been set up by Wildcat Aquatics, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and 100% of all donations will directly benefit Mike's wife Emily and his three children Jessica, Jack and Brittany.

We have a chance to double our donations to honor the memory of our friend and colleague. A generous donor has offered to match funds up to $10,000.00 submitted by the diving community. In order to have your donation matched, please send your check made payable to "Wildcats Aquatics - Iron Mike Memorial" and send to Springboards and More. They will coordinate the gift with the matching donor.

Make checks payable to "Wildcats Aquatics - Iron Mike Memorial"

Mail to
"Iron Mike" Foundation
c/o Springboards and More
P.O. Box 268
Milford, OH 45150

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thanks, "Iron Mike"!

MIKE LYDEN, one of the finest diving coaches in America lost his battle with cancer on Friday April 11, 2008.

  • Thanks "Iron Mike."

  • Thanks for being such an inspiration to so many.

  • Thanks for being the great coach you were.

  • Thanks for being the great competitor you were.

  • Thanks for being the fighter you were.

  • Thanks for being the friend you were to so many.

  • Thanks for being the mentor you were to so many.

  • Thanks for being the great husband you were.

  • Thanks for being the great father you were.

  • Thanks for the passion that you brought to the sport of diving.

  • Thanks for your zest for life.

  • Thanks for bringing out the best in all those with whom you came in contact.

You will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Rest in Peace.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Just A Half Point More!!

Ask yourself this question after your next diving meet: “What could I have done better on each dive to get just one half point more from the judges?”

In a typical 11-dive high school dive list (5 Voluntary Dives and 6 Optional Dives that includes 105C, 203C, 303C, 403C, 5132D and 5223D) your total score would INCREASE by nearly 30 POINTS if you took every score you received from each judge and added ½ point to it before re-calculating your score.

EXERCISE: Pull out your most recent diving sheet and re-calculate your final total after increasing every judges' award by one half point. (Example: If you received scores of 5.5 , 5.5, 6.0, 6.0, 6.0 on your first dive -- change those scores to 6.0, 6.0, 6.5, 6.5, 6.5 and recalculate the point total). Repeat this for all eleven dives and then see where you would have ended up in the final rankings had this been your score!

THIRTY POINTS – that is almost one whole dive!! That is like getting to do 12 dives in an 11-dive meet – on which end do you rather be?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Watch The Bubbles!

When a divers enters the water with little or no splash, the result is usually a high score from the judges. In order to get that "RIP" sound when entering the water, the diver must have grabbed their "flathand," lined up the entry correctly and remain tight through the water -- especially their shoulders, elbows and wrists. The final piece of the "RIP" puzzle is the diver needs to split their hands as soon as they touch the water -- this in effect "RIPS" open a hole in the water through which the diver enters.

A coach can tell if the diver is splitting their hands simply by watching the bubbles where the diver entered the water. There should be THREE sets of bubbles: the middle bubble is where the diver entered the water and then the two sets of bubbles to either side of the middle bubbles that are generated by the diver splitting their hands upon entry. If a coach only sees one set of bubbles, this means the diver is not splitting their hands apart on entry. If the coach sees three sets of bubbles BUT the two sets of side bubbles take a few seconds to reach the surface, then the diver is splitting too late. Sometimes, new divers will split their hands BEFORE they hit the water and this will be very easy to see as the splash will be big and the diver will probably complain of a headache when they get out of the water!

FINAL NOTE: The three sets of bubbles should be nearly in a straight line or the two "outside" sets of bubbles should be slightly in front of the middle set of bubbles. If a coach notices one or both "outside" sets of bubbles breaking the surface BEHIND the middle set of bubbles -- WARNING -- this could lead to shoulder injuries -- especially for tower divers! If you see this situation, it MUST be corrected right away!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Good "Hobie-ism"

Legendary Diving Coach HOBIE BILLINGSLEY was often heard to tell a diver "Don't let the water dictate your direction upon entry." In a nutshell, this means that a diver should maintain a tight straight-line body position throughout the completion of the entry. The dive is NOT over until your toenails disappear underneath the water.

If a diver does not maintain a tight body when they enter the water, the water might force them to move in a certain direction that makes the dive appear to go short, over or maybe look twisted in the eyes of the judges -- all things that reduce the scores given to the diver.

Divers must learn this most important of skills from the very beginning of their diving careers. A good drill is to have them lie on their back with legs straight, feet together, toes pointed and a "flathand" grabbed and then on your command "STRETCH" -- they try to make their body 10 feet long and hold this tight stretched position for 10 seconds. Relax and then repeat 10 times. In addition, every practice should include time spent on learning to enter the water straight (read: VERTICAL) with this tight body position and good form (Legs Straight, Feet Together, Toes Pointed).

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Best Diving Meet Fundraising Idea

Hosting a diving meet can be a great way to raise funds for your team. It takes a great deal of work but can be very profitable. I have run numerous diving meets over the years including the 1996 U.S. Diving Senior National Championships at the then brand new Corwin Nixon Aquatic Center on the campus of Miami (OH) University. The Cincinnati Stingrays Parent's Group put on one heck of a show and I still get coaches complimenting me (and the team) on what many consider to be the best Nationals ever held.

The meet had pomp and circumstance, huge crowds, incredible food and hospitality for the coaches, divers and volunteers as well as great media coverage from the local and national press.

How was it done -- especially the incredible amounts of food that was served? The meet planning committee made a spreadsheet list of every single thing we thought we would need to run a first class diving meet -- down to the last potato chip and paperclip. Then the parents went to people and businesses they knew and asked for a NON-CASH donations. We asked for a donation of product or service instead of asking for cash. We updated the spreadsheet regularly so potential donors could see how many people and businesses were helping us with our endeavor. Most businesses will gladly donate product in lieu of cash and we credited them for the value of their product donation as if it were a cash donation.

When all was said and done, we figure that the value of the donations we received (mostly products and / or services) totalled nearly $50,000 and with this you can put on one spectacular diving meet!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Duraflex Factoid

Did you know that the very first Durafirm Stand (as we know if today) was designed by Ray Rude and manufactured in the Fall of 1961. It was installed at Princeton University. The coach there at the time was Bob Schneider (of RIP Magazine Fame).

Source -- Jan Rude -- President of Duraflex International Corporation

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What Is That Noise?

A phone call I often get from coaches involves the the loud noise coming from their diving equipment when being bounced. In most cases, this is due to one of two things:

  1. The FULCRUM is not properly adjusted (either the Anti-Rattle Bolts or the Roller Clamp Lock-Nuts)
  2. The HINGE has either missing or broken Nyliners ("bushings") which allows the Hinge Pin to rattle around inside the Hinge.

To adjust the fulcrum, you need a 1/2-inch combination wrench and a 9/16-inch combination wrench. Try to isolate which side of the fulcrum is making the noise and then determine if the Roller Blocks is lifting up and banging on the Slide Track (loose Anti Rattle Bolt) or if the Fulcrum Roller is lifting up and banging on the Roller Block (loose Roller Clamp). When tightening, always do so in quarter-turn increments and then re-test. Do NOT over-tighten.

If the noise is coming from the hinge (you can usually see the hinge pin moving inside the hinge), then you need to replace the Nyliners ("hinge bushings"). To do this, you must first remove the diving board and then knock the pin out of the hinge. Clean or replace the hinge pin and then add the four NEW Nyliners to the hinge and then re-insert the hinge pin. Put new "O" rings on either end of the hinge pin to prevent it from working itself out of the hinge assembly. If you run into problems, feel free to contact me at Springboards and More for trouble-shooting over the phone.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Administrating Your Diving Team

Most diving coaches that I know love to coach but do not like the administrative duties that are required to run a successful diving team. Running a diving team is much like running a business -- it is very important to keep up on the day-to-day administrative tasks. Examples are returning e-mails and phone calls, recruiting and registering new divers, billing and bill paying, collecting past due fees, lesson plans, continuing education, etc.

My solution is to schedule a block of time -- the same time every day -- to do these things. I like mornings because my mind is fresh and there are few distractions. I go to the office and try to answer all e-mails, return phone calls and perform all of the routine tasks that I need to do in order to keep my diving program (read: business) running smoothly. Often, these daily administrative duties can be accomplished in a fairly short time as long as you keep up on them.

WOW! Did you know that if you wake-up 30 minutes earlier than you normally do each day that you will add about 7 1/2 DAYS to your year? (30 minutes x 365 days = 10,950 minutes which equals 182.5 hours which equals 7.6 days). Think about how much more you could accomplish with an extra 7 1/2 days!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Diving Board Tool Kit

Having diving equipment that is in good working order is paramount to running a successful diving team. Every diving coach should have a basic knowledge of how to maintain their diving stand and board. The following items should be kept at the pool:
  • Grease Gun with Tube of Grease (Duraflex Mystik JT-6 is recommended)
  • Can of 3 in 1 Oil (to lubricate hinges)
  • Rags (for wiping off fulcrum slide tracks BEFORE greasing)
  • Can of WD-40 or similar product to help remove dirt and grease from fulcrum slide tracks
  • 15/16-inch combination wrench (Tightens diving board bolts / stand installation bolts / fulcrum box installation bolts)
  • 9/16-inch combination wrench (Tightens ALL bolts that go into Durafirm diving stand plus the fulcrum anti-rattle bolt)
  • 1/2-inch combination wrench (Tightens guard rail attachment bolts and all fulcrum bolts except anti-rattle bolt)

Best Wishes for a Safe and Successful Season!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Trampoline Spring Information

There are several trampoline springs on the market today, but you need to know the differences in order to make the correct decision when purchasing them. Most non-competitive or backyard trampolines utilize 9 in. springs and nearly all competitive trampolines utilize 10" or even 10 1/4 in. springs.

All trampolines springs have what is called a "Resting Stretch" and an "Active Stretch." The Resting Stretch is defined as the amount of stretch on the spring when it is attached to the trampoline frame and bed and nobody is jumping on it -- it is "at rest." The Active Stretch is defined as the length to which the spring could stretch when an average size person is "actively" jumping. See the chart below:

As you can see, there is quite a difference. You will also note that depending on what spring size you choose has an impact on the actual size of the trampoline bed needed to correctly fit your trampoline frame. HAPPY JUMPING!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

USA Diving Registration and Safety Certification

Coaches beware - make sure you have your USA Diving registration and safety certification. USA Diving will be checking your registration at all the regional, zone and national level meets.

They have also partnered with the American Red Cross, and you can get your first aid requirements online. For more information CLICK HERE. Don't procrastinate, get certified!

Get Ready for Spring!

Spring is upon us and that means competitions! NCAA championships just finished and the spring regionals are already in progress. What does that mean for coaches - check your boards and stands and be proactive! Springboards And More has multiple equipment packages that can help fix problems that occur to Duraflex Diving Stands. The most common problems occur on hinges, fulcrums and guardrails, and these are easy fixes. Questions - give us a call at (877) 348-3246.