Most likely, you have heard people say that “real life” and what is projected in movies rarely provides a viable match. But if you ever watch the 1990 film ‘Diving In’, you will be confronted with a common theme in springboard diving: the fear of heights. In this film a high school diver fights his fear of heights to get onto the diving team only to learn he must perform the high dive in order to compete. The film is, of course, layered with drama for the purpose of storytelling, and presents an unlikely and terrible twist personified in the team’s coach who calls the high school diver a loser. Our San Diego springboard diving club prides itself on the finest coaches who not only provide the best technical training, but who also emotionally support divers with love, praise, and never-ending encouragement. With the best support available anywhere in San Diego springboard diving comes understanding and facing various challenges that can come in the guide of both physical and psychological obstacles. The fear of heights is what we will focus on here.
How High is Too High?
When divers participate in the sport they love with a fear of heights, the discomfort can set in at a height of nine feet and at fifty feet and equally pack the same fear intensity. Nine feet may not seem too high, but once you are standing on the board looking down, it can feel intimidating for some. Having been a former member of the Great American High Diving Team, San Diego springboard diving coach Marnie Young understands first hand that height anxieties happen within the sport and she works with kids taking diving lessons who reveal a fear of heights that surface when they approach the board. The important thing to remember is that every diver has his own comfort zone, and the goal is to approach the edge of that zone with grace and understanding, and push to the next level in a safe and fun manner.
Does My Child Have Acrophobia?
Defined as the fear of heights, acrophobia develops in a variety of ways. Those who have it can show symptoms of anxiousness, while others are flat out terrified. In most cases student divers do not have acrophobia but instead they have a normal level of apprehension to heights that will go away with the right coaching and through gaining experience in the sport. Our San Diego springboard diving coaches work with kids and adults helping them slowly desensitize to heights. If a coach senses the anxiety may in fact be a result of acrophobia, the diver would be referred to a medical professional. However, 9 out of 10 times the fear of heights in springboard diving can be conquered by taking the right steps through custom diving lessons tailored to that diver’s individual needs.
How Can My Child Overcome the Fear of Heights?
This first thing your child must do in order to overcome his fear of heights is to start by learning the fundamentals of the sport. By doing so the student diver will gain confidence. Once the diver understands the accouterments of diving and knows what his expectations are, he can then advance into a program designed by the coach to deal with the anxiety on a step-by-step basis. Here is a common blueprint:
- Start with a standing jump of the one-meter board.
- After jumping while being completely comfortable, try the jump with a hurdle.
- After comfortable jumping with a hurdle, try jumping in different positions (pike, tuck, straight).
When the diver is ready to advance on to the next level, i.e. a higher dive, these steps can be repeated. The point is to do things gradually and to never advance until comfort and confidence is met.
Success Will Follow!
Once a diver enters a program with the caring and guidance from a skilled San Diego springboard diving coach, the fear of heights can be defeated and success will follow. Just remember that the phrase “slow and steady wins the race” holds much truth to defeating a fear of heights in San Diego springboard diving. Addressing the fear in a step-by-step program while gradually increasing the height will build confidence and set the stage for a successful and happy diver!