Monday, October 27, 2008

How Coaching Diving and Making Homemade Bread are Related

In my opinion, one of life's simple pleasures is the smell of homemade bread baking in the oven! This weekend, my kids and I made homemade bread. They love mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, eating the dough and finally enjoying the warm bread after it comes out of the oven. What they do not like is the time it takes to make homemade bread and the clean-up that must be done when finished.

It got me thinking about how making bread and the sport of diving are similar. First from a spectator point of view. There is something rather enjoyable about watching an elite level diver perform a difficult dive with grace and ease. The best divers in the world can make it look so easy that it is sometimes difficult to really comprehend how much time and preparation went into perfecting that dive. The same could be said for the enjoyment you might get after eating a slice of homemade bread -- it seems so simple and basic you sometimes forget the time and skill that went into making it.

From a coaching point of view -- think of yourself as the "baker" and think of your diver at the Nationals as the freshly baked bread that just came out of the oven. You (the baker) have your own special recipe that you use to create this freshly baked loaf of bread (your diver). As with most recipes -- especially bread recipes -- it is very important to follow the steps in a certain order for the recipe to turn out the way you want or expect. This is certainly true when training a diver. You must do certain prep work, and mixing, and kneading, and waiting, and finally baking -- a long and sometimes boring journey. There are no shortcuts to making homemade bread and there are no shortcuts to making an elite level diver. There is only hard work, discipline and patience combined with a little luck that will hopefully produce an unforgettable result.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Would You Want YOUR Kids To Dive With You?

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." That age old adage is so true in so many aspects of life -- including your diving program.

I am the proud father of seven year old boy and girl twins and my kids are involved in numerous activities -- seems like I have become a taxi service!! With any new activity in which they become involved, I am always "checking the scene with my keen eye" when I take them for their first lesson or practice.

The first thing I do is check out the facility. Is it clean and well lit? Does the equipment look like it is maintained and in generally good condition? Is the practice location in a safe area? Are there many people there? Are there people there who look like they do not belong there? Do the other kids there look happy to be there? etc. etc.

Usually then I meet the coach or coaches. I definitely form an impression about them within the first couple of minutes. Are they polite and well-mannered? Are they enthusiastic? Do they seem excited to be there coaching or are they just doing it for the paycheck? Are they well-groomed and nicely dressed? Do they offer you a firm handshake and look you in the eye when they first meet or speak with you? Do they reek of cigarette smoke or smokeless tobacco products? Do they have numerous tattoos and body piercings on display? etc. etc. Call me old fashioned, but these things are important to me and, I would venture to say, important to most people -- especially those with young kids. Having a tattoo or a body piercing or smelling like a burnt cigarette does not make you a bad person -- BUT it does make a statement about you that many people do not want made around their kids. I know that I do not want my kids exposed to that "stuff" right now -- they will get plenty of that as they get older.

We are in that time of the diving season when many programs are just starting. Many new divers are coming in for their first practices and many proud parents (and grandparents) are coming to watch as well. Take a few moments to look over your facility to make sure it is presentable. While you are at it, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself -- "Would I want MY kids to dive with me?"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Must Be Better Than "BAD" Judging!

I hear it all the time from coaches and especially from divers -- "The judging today was terrible!"

In most cases, I disagree, because as I hope you are aware, judging diving is subjective; it is purely the personal opinion of the person sitting in the judging chair. What they like or dislike might be radically different than what you like or dislike. What they think is a good dive or a bad dive might be radically different that what you think is a good dive or a bad dive.

Something to consider: if all (or most) of the judges score your dive(s) low -- chances are your dive was not quite as good as you thought it was. If most of the judges gave your dive a good score and one judge did not (because of cheating or just inexperience) -- that does NOT affect your score one bit as their low score gets dropped when the calculations are made.

The point I am trying to make is this: You cannot do something (or NOT do something) on your dive that would cause the judge (or judges) to give your dive a "BAD" score. You need to coach your divers in such a way (or if you are the diver) you need to make sure your dives are better than "bad" judging. You have nobody to blame but yourself if your dives go into the water with bent legs, flat feet, feet apart or a big splash. Don't forget about entering the water vertically either! Even the worst diving judge in the world knows that each or any of these things makes your dive look bad and thus scream out for "BAD" scores! Any coach worth their salt knows that the key to diving success (especially at the younger age groups) is fundamentals -- namely good form (legs straight, feet together, toes pointed) and vertical entry with little or no splash!

So the next time you compete (or your diver competes) in a meet and you are angry at the "BAD" judging -- take an (unbiased) look back on your dives to see if there were not some numerous and / or fundamental errors that might have caused all the judges to simultaneously score you low.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How To Grease A Duraflex Fulcrum Assembly

A simple yet often overlooked or incorrectly performed diving equipment maintenance task is that of greasing your Duraflex Fulcrum Assembly and Slide Tracks. If done properly and routinely, you will notice that more dives get done during practice and your diving meets will run quicker – all because the fulcrum can be easily moved by all divers. As most coaches know, there is nothing that slows down a practice or a meet more than a fulcrum that does not move easily. Every diving coach should know and understand simple equipment maintenance tasks and none is easier than this one. Here is what you need and how to do it.


Grease Gun (Duraflex Item PM110)
3 ounce tube of Duraflex Mystik JT-6 Grease (Duraflex Item PM111)
Bag of rags or old towels
Paint thinner, WD-40 or other “spray-on” grease solvent

BI-WEEKLY MAINTENANCE (Time required -- 2 minutes per fulcrum)

Using a can of grease solvent or lubricant, spray the Durafirm Slide Tracks (Duraflex Item C208A). Then, take a rag or old towel and wipe off the Fulcrum Slide Tracks. Be sure to thoroughly clean all FOUR exposed sides of the Fulcrum Slide Tracks – the top, the outside, the inside AND the inside bottom. The grease solvent should clean the Fulcrum Slide Tracks to look virtually brand new. NOTE: The Fulcrum Slide Tracks should be all black -- if you can see any shiny metal or scratches on the Slide Tracks, they should be replaced.

After thoroughly cleaning the Fulcrum Slide Tracks, grease the Fulcrum Assembly and the Slide Tracks. To do this, put two “pumps” of grease into each Roller Block (Duraflex Item #517) by attaching the Duraflex Grease Gun (Duraflex Item PM110) to the “zerk fitting” (grease nipple) that is located near the bottom corner of each Roller Block. Then, put a SMALL amount of grease on each slide track and using your fingers, spread it over all FOUR exposed sides of the Slide Tracks. THREE COMMON MISTAKES: 1) Not cleaning the slide tracks before greasing them. 2) Putting the grease on too thick – in this instance, LESS is better than more 3) Not spreading the grease over all four sides of the Fulcrum Slide Track including the inside bottom.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It Never Ceases To Amaze Me!

Now that the Summer Swim Club season is over, it is time to remind everybody to TAKE PROPER CARE OF YOUR EQUIPMENT FOR THE WINTER!

It never ceases to amaze me the number of summer swim clubs and country clubs that leave their THREE THOUSAND DOLLAR Diving Boards sitting unprotected in the weather all Fall, Winter and Spring. It never ceases to amaze me that those who DO take down their diving board for the off season simply leave them lay out on the pool deck or against a fence UNPROTECTED from the elements all year long. I would say that diving coaches -- it is partly YOUR responsibility to prod your pool manager to take a few steps to protect your valuable equipment by doing the following:
  1. Take down your diving boards from the stands and store them INSIDE (Filter room, bathhouse, concession stand, etc.) Be sure to store them OUT OF THE WAY so people do not step on them or drop things on them or drive the club tractor over them. I suggest leaning them against a wall (top surface towards the wall) set upon three 2x4's (cut short) to keep them off the ground. Put one in the middle and the other two about three feet from each end of the board. If you have more than one diving board, drape a couple of folded towels over the second board and then rest it against the first board. These act like bumpers to keep your boards from possibly scraping each other.
  2. Remove the carriage bolts from the diving board and spray them with some WD-40 or similar lubricant. After they dry, wrap them in newspaper and place between the ribs on the underside of the board (so you know exactly where they are next summer).
  3. Use a rag and some WD-40 and completely clean your fulcrum slide tracks. Also, use some 3 in 1 Oil to lubricate your hinges.
  4. Finally, take some large garbage bags and completely cover your fulcrum assembly and hinge assembly. Secure these with Duct tape or bungee cords. You may even want to take a large tarp and completely cover your entire diving stand as well.

Duraflex Equipment is known round the world for high quality that provides years and years of service -- but you must do your part and take care of your equipment -- even when not in use.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How To Tell The Age Of Your Diving Board

Every Duraflex Diving Board has a serial tag that tells the year in which the board was made. The serial number can be found on a small metal tag that is attached to the diving board at the very back -- on top -- between the two bolts that attach the diving board to the hinges.

The serial number (for all boards made 1988 - Present) starts with a letter followed by six numbers. The letter tells you the model of the diving board. In Duraflex lingo, "B" means Model B Cheeseboard. "A" refers to a 16' Duraflex Board; "M" refers to a 16' Maxiflex Board and "C" refers to 14' Duraflex Board.

The first two digits following the letter tell the year the diving board was made and the last four numbers refer to the production number of that diving board.

So to summarize: If your diving board has the serial number B030548 -- that means that you have the 548th Model "B" Cheeseboard made in 2003.

If your serial number does not follow this "formula" then your diving board was made before 1988 and you would need to call the Duraflex Factory to research the serial number and tell you the age of your board. (PS: When you call, ask for Penny!!)