Sunday, February 21, 2010

The "Bad" Side of TIVO

Recently, while judging the SEC Championships at the beautiful University of Georgia Aquatic Center, I made an observation which really got me thinking.

Like many pools around the country where competitive divers train, the TIVO is an integral piece of equipment that is used on a daily basis. (For those who do not know, a TIVO is a device that looks like a VCR and which records and then plays back what was recorded on a delay set by the coach. This allows the diver to instantly see the dive they just performed and is considered a "must have" training tool for divers).

What I noticed is that most of the divers in the competition would do their dive and then go right to the TIVO to watch their dive BEFORE looking to their coach for corrections and suggestions for improvement. My thought was that this was BACKWARD. The diver should go to the coach FIRST to get coaching on the dive and THEN go to the TIVO to watch the dive paying close attention to what the coach told them they needed to do on the next attempt. This way, the diver does not fall into the potentially bad habit of coaching themselves and thinking they know the best way to make corrections to their dive.

Without a doubt, a TIVO is a great asset for every diving team because it certainly helps the divers improve at a faster pace by giving instant feedback about the dive HOWEVER; it is my humble suggestion that the following rule be established: The diver first comes to the coach to get advice and corrections on the dive BEFORE going to the TIVO to watch it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

When To Replace Spotting Rig Components

I often get asked the question "when is it time to replace components of a spotting rig?"

Certainly, a quick visual inspection of your spotting equipment should be done before every use. Are the ropes frayed? Are the swivel clips bent or broken? Does the spotting belt have any loose stitching? Is the rope running smoothly through the pulleys? etc. etc.

But the real answer depends on many factors including:

  • How often is the spotting rig used?
  • How big are the kids being spotted? (College age? High School? Age Group? Lessons?)
  • How often is the spotting rig "shock-loaded"?
  • How old are the ropes? The Pulleys? The Clips?
  • What is the environment where the spotting rig is used? (Indoor? Outdoor? Near the ocean? Heavy chlorine environment? Direct sun?)
  • How experienced is the person doing the spotting? (Very experienced? Novice?)

It is my suggestion that the coach or facility maintenance staff should closely inspect the entire spotting rig including the ropes, the pulleys, the swivel clips, the links that attach the pulleys to the spotting rig or the ceiling clamps, the rig itself or the ceiling attachment clamps at least twice per year -- more if the spotting equipment is used daily.

It is always best to err on the side of caution -- when in doubt or if not sure -- replace.

NOTE: Make sure the components you use are RESCUE RATED and designed and intended to be used for overhead lifting of human weight -- not the cheap imported rope and hardware sold at Big Box stores. Remember that Good Spotting Equipment is NOT Cheap and Cheap Spotting Equipment is NOT Good!

Diving Referee or Judges Should Help Teach Younger Divers

My kids are both on the third grade basketball team and for the most part -- it is a comedy of errors watching them "play" the game and learn the game!

Of course, teaching the kids how to play the game is the job of the coach but I like how the local referees take an active role of teaching the kids during the games. As you can imagine, the rules of basketball for 3rd graders are not very strictly enforced -- but when they are, I really like how the referee will squat down in front of the kid and tell him exactly why the whistle was blown or why the foul was called. This way, the youngster can get immediate feedback and learn the game one rule at a time.

Similarly, diving referees and judges should do the same thing -- especially in summer league diving. If a failed dive, balk or other penalty is called, the referee (or judge) should call the young aspiring diver over and explain exactly why the penalty was called to make sure they understand. In certain instances, I think even letting young diver repeat a dive that was failed is a great opportunity to teach the sport to them. Call them over, explain why the dive was failed and then let them try it again. This is a non-threatening and non embarrassing way to teach a young diver and keep them involved in the sport by taking a potentially humiliating experience and turning it into a positive situation.

Can A Judge Give A Zero If The Referee Does Not Fail the Dive?

The answer is YES -- a diving judge can score a dive "ZERO" even if the referee has not declared the dive to be failed. This somewhat rare situation is most likely to happen in a high school competition and when it does occur, it is usually on a twisting dive -- especially when the judges are seated on both sides of the diving well (as they should be).

A few notes:
  • Scores in diving range from a high of "10" (Excellent) to a low of "0" (failed).
  • Whenever possible -- judges should be seated on BOTH sides of the diving well.
  • Whenever possible (and at all "big" meets) there should be both a referee and an assistant referee who are seated on opposite sides of the pool.
  • The ASSISTANT referee makes the call (failed dive) and the referee either confirms it or does not confirm it. In order for the dive to be declared failed -- BOTH the referee AND the assistant referee should be in agreement.
  • If the referee declares the dive to be "failed" -- all scores are "0" -- even if one or more of the judges does NOT think it was failed.
  • A judge who gives a "0" to a dive not declared failed by the referee should be able to defend that score with an explanation other than "it was my opinion."
  • All diving judges should watch as much diving as they are able in order to keep their "diving eye" sharp.
  • All diving judges should know and understand the rules of the sport.
  • All diving judges should first and foremost be completely neutral; judge what they see fairly and accurately and always give the diver the benefit of the doubt.