It doesn’t matter if you are standing on a springboard at the Olympic games trying to take the gold, or you are taking San Diego springboard diving lessons in a beginner’s group; your ability to master control cannot be understated. When a diver has good control he can perform multiple flips and enter the water gracefully with very minimal splashing. Control is something that demands dedication, constant work, and a skilled springboard diving instructor. Although mastering the art of perfect control requires a plethora of factors, there are two main focuses that can help divers improve their control and take to the air with all the grace of a mystical creature from the pages of classic mythology. There are also three good exercises that will help foster perfect control.
Number 1: Takeoff Control
When a 747 speeds down an airport runway, there are a number of factors that must be set firmly in place in order for the takeoff to be smooth, safe and perfect. The same holds true for anyone taking springboard diving lessons as they plan their approach and launch from the board or platform.
If you want to master springboard takeoff, you will need to have total and complete control of the diving board. You will need to listen carefully to your springboard diving coach and learn how to get the maximum height from the board and where the fulcrum resides for each and every dive. Learning how to control your takeoff is not like jumping from the dock into the lake on a family vacation; there is an art to it and it can take years to perfect—even for Olympian divers. The best spring board diving coach will know how to read your body, its abilities, and how its physical memory fosters learning and she will take the necessary actions to help you perfect your hurdle. There are several things you can do to get in the groove and learn perfect takeoff control. You can bounce the board multiple times prior to your workouts, work on your hurdles and back presses and initiate simple dives into the pool. These acts will help you develop perfect control required in both backward and forward takeoffs.
You can also adjust the fulcrum and discover what works best for you. The fulcrum is a wheel that rests under the board and can be adjusted to compliment a diver’s weight. During practice ask your springboard diving coach to help you set it to a point that is just right for you.
Platform diving does not require the demands of springboard timing. However, perfect body positioning is vital to good control. In order to have proper body positioning on the takeoff you should be vertical with very little forwards or backwards lean, and upon takeoff your head should be lifted. Just make sure your springboard diving coach helps you work on mastering strong jumps up and away from the tower to promote safe and successful diving.
Number 2: Control your Stomach Muscles.
Strong stomach muscles hold the key to good diving control. You stomach is at the helm when it comes to orchestrating better posture and control over movements and other muscles in your body. There are three good exercises you can do to help keep your stomach muscles in top shape: pike holds, tuck and pike ups, and front and back falls.
Pike holds promote stronger stomach muscles as well as better control over the lower half of your body. To do this exercise you will need a bar that is high enough that your feet do not touch the ground when you hang from it. Simply grip the bar firmly and hold the pose while keeping the lower half of your body stiff. Then bring your legs up to your eye-level with as much control as you can master. Point your toes, and keep your legs straight. Once you get in the solid pike position, slowly lower your legs back into a resting position. Then repeat this several times.
Tuck and Pike Ups are important exercises that work both the upper and lower stomach muscles. Simply lie down on a mat and simultaneously lift your upper and lower body to meet in the middle. When doing tuck ups you mimic a tuck position at the top of the crunch while pike ups replicate the pike position. You can do several sets of these before every workout, but just make sure you stretch first!
Front and back falls help you maintain those strong stomach muscles. You can do forward and backward line-ups from the 3-meter springboard (or platform) in your pursuit of better stomach muscles. These falls will help you develop a tight core—something essential to achieve that desired “rip” entry you will need. Consult your springboard diving coach and ask how many sets you should do before each practice and be sure to fixate on a flat-hand grab, your core and your entry.
Be sure to read our blog next weekend when we will be talking about visual spotting control—another element necessary to mastering perfect dive control!