Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Three Step or Four Step?

When I first started coaching diving, we always taught new or beginner divers a three-step approach and hurdle. It was simple or so I thought -- less steps meant less things for "little Johnny" to remember.


I remember hosting an annual clinic for local diving coaches -- most of whom were current or former divers who had summer coaching jobs at local swim or country clubs. I remember it like it was yesterday -- I gave my little talk on how to teach the three step-approach and hurdle and one of the young coaches at the clinic asked why I did not teach a four-step approach and hurdle. I told her that as the diver got older and had developed more skills, that was indeed what I would do. She asked me again, why I did not teach NEW divers a four-step approach and hurdle. I told her that less steps meant less to remember for young divers and she said that she liked to teach new divers a FOUR-step approach and hurdle for the simple fact that the diver would start the approach and hurdle with the SAME LEG!! I paused for a moment and thought -- GENIUS -- why didn't I think of that? It IS so simple now -- young divers who were always forgetting which leg is used to take the first step and then which leg to lift in the hurdle, can certainly remember to start their approach and hurdle with the same leg. All I needed to do was ask them which hand they used to eat, write or throw a baseball and that is the same leg I told them to start their approach and then lift in their hurdle.

That became my NEW method and I have used it on NEW divers ever since!

NOTE: For many summer diving leagues, the rules are pretty vague so for very young divers, I suppose you could teach and use a TWO-step approach and hurdle (Same starting foot / hurdle leg and less things to remember!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Practice Under Meet Conditions!

Often times, I will see a diver during practice who will balk, break position or otherwise give-up on a dive because of a bad hurdle, takeoff or any number of other situations that always seem to crop up. The coach will remind the diver that if they do that in a meet, they will probably receive lower scores from the judges or in the case of a balk, have a scoring penalty imposed. The diver usually shrugs and says" I won't do that in a meet!"


It has been my experience that a diver does in a meet, what they do in practice. This is why you practice!! Teach your divers that they need to "practice under meet conditions." They need to be able to do all of their dives without balking or breaking position. They need to be able to do all of their dives with any hurdle or any takeoff and they need to be able to do all of their dives without regard to any other adverse conditions such as cold water or air temperature, early morning events, rain, wind, bright sunlight, bad equipment, etc.

discipline, Discipline, DISCIPLINE!!

This all goes back to teaching your divers HOW to dive and not just teaching them dives.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cleaning Your Twisting Belt

Legendary diving coach and inventor of overhead spotting DICK KIMBALL, shares his tips for keeping your twisting belt spinning freely and easily.

  1. Make sure the metal ring of your twisting belt is not bent, dented or otherwise damaged.

  2. Place some cardboard or newspaper on the ground and set your twisting belt on top of it.

  3. Spray some "brake parts cleaner" (available at all auto parts stores) into the ring and onto the ball bearings all the way around. (Be sure to use the thin "straw" to direct the spray into the ring).

  4. Let it sit for a few minutes. The brake parts cleaner will cause all the gunk, junk, dirt and grime that is on your ball-bearings and inside your ring to drop through the bottom of the ring and onto the cardboard or newspaper.

  5. Once it dries, put some graphite powder into the ring and onto the ball-bearings.

  6. Hold the twisting belt with one hand and use your other hand to move the outside ring back and forth to work in the graphite.

  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 and then "free-spin" the belt a couple of times.

  8. Kimball says he does this about once every two weeks and his twisting belt (which he claims is older than he is!!) will spin around about 20-25 times with one pull.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Do The Opposite!

It has been my experience as a diving coach that when a diver has a continued problem with a dive, one way to solve the issue is to try and get your diver to do the OPPOSITE of the problem they are having.

  1. A diver who dives too close to the board, you try to get them to do the dive too far out from the board. (Start with jumps that are too far away from the board first)!
  2. A diver who keeps diving to the right side of the board -- you try to get them to do the dive to the left side of the board.
  3. A diver who is over twisting -- you try to get them to square out too early on the twist.
  4. A diver who keeps going short on a dive -- you try to get them to "go over" on the dive.
  5. A diver who keeps missing the end of the board on a hurdle -- you try to get the hurdle slightly past the end of the board (toes over the edge).
  6. Etc. etc.

No matter what, continue to coach good form (legs straight, feet together, toes pointed) as well as vertical entries with little or no splash. REPETITION IS KEY!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


This week, I had the opportunity and privilege to judge at the 2008 FINA Grand Prix International Diving Championships at the Hall of Fame Aquatic Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL. During the first of our daily judges' meetings, we discussed a number of things about the events from the previous day. One such topic that we discussed I felt was very relevant to diving at all levels from beginner to international elite and that topic was how some divers did very good dives but they did not FINISH them well and therefore the scores from the judges were not as high as they could have been.


The best divers know how to finish their dives.

REMEMBER: The dive is not over until your toes have disappeared underneath the water. Make sure your divers are taught and learn to stay TIGHT with legs straight, feet together and toes pointed all the way through the entry. The extra half point or point they could receive from the judges could make a huge difference in the final results -- it sure did at the FINA Meet!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Don't Let Go of the Ropes!

During the 2008 FINA Grand Prix International Diving Meet at the Hall of Fame Aquatic Center, some coaches were "testing out" of overhead spotting proficiency on both trampoline and dryboard. Our proficiency test took place under the watchful eyes of legendary spotters Dick Kimball (University of Michigan -- retired) and Julian Krug (Univ. of Pittsburgh). My group included Ted Hautau (NC State University) and Kevin Sage (Sagebrush Diving -- CO).

While I was waiting my turn to "test" my skills, I recalled what my mentor Charlie Casuto told me when he taught me how to "spot" trampoline more than 20 years ago -- these words still hold true today:

  1. NEVER, EVER let go of the spotting ropes when you have an athlete in the belt -- even when you are not actively "spotting" them.
  2. Make sure the athlete in the spotting belt understands what skill you want them to do.
  3. Never take your eyes off the person in the spotting belt when you are actively spotting them.
  4. Make sure the athlete you are spotting knows and understands that they are NOT to "go" until you are looking at them AND you have given them the "go" command.
  5. Avoid anything that could distract you or cause you to lose your focus when you are actively spotting an athlete.
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice!

WORD OF CAUTION: All coaches should first learn how to spot over a trampoline. After getting proficient at trampoline spotting, then you can move on to spotting dryboard and finally, you can learn "over-the-water" spotting. The reason this is important is when spotting over the water, you must "let go" of the ropes after spotting the skill so the diver can drop into the pool. Without exception, you NEVER LET GO of the ropes when spotting above a trampoline or dryboard so you must learn this VERY IMPORTANT lesson first.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

2008 FINA Grand Prix Meet!

If you are in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area this week, be sure to stop by the Hall of Fame Aquatic Center located at the International Swimming Hall of Fame and Hall for the 2008 AT&T USA DIVING F.I.N.A. Grand Prix. This international diving competition will feature the best divers in the world in one of the last major competitions before the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Click here for a schedule of events.

While there, be sure to stop by the Springboards and More Booth (located on the 3M side of the pool) where you will find all kinds of diving related equipment, supplies and novelty items sure to please any diving enthusiast in your family.

The Springboards and More Booth will be open Wednesday May 7 - Saturday May 10 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. We hope to see you there!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Diving Coach Research Project

Springboards and More is researching and compiling a listing of all the awards and honors that have been won by diving coaches over the past 100 years. We plan to upload all of this information to a website that will be available soon. The website will be a constantly growing database as we collect more and more information.

Not only are we compiling listings of the major diving coach award winners, but we are also looking to compile NCAA Coach of the Year Winners, US Diving Coaching honors, College Conference "Coach of the Year" winners, as well as High School and Geographic area diving coach award winners.

If you would like to assist in this project, please send a note to springboardsandmore@cinci.rr.com or if you have any awards or honors you would like to see added to our compilation, please send that information as well.

We appreciate your efforts towards this project and we hope that this new website will be a source of inspiration to future diving coaches and help to keep our sport moving forward!