Creating a successful diving team requires more than a knowledge of diving and the ability to coach. Success also requires a coach to manage a large group of young athletes, and to have a eye for the big picture. Here are a few ideas that can help a coach better mange the varying degrees of talent within a diving team.
You Are the Coach, So Coach
Parents and divers want, and should receive, appropriate services for the money that they pay. You as the head coach should do the majority of the coaching.
If you hire an additional coach, make sure that the coach is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and has an interest in coaching diving - not a $5.00 / hour high school or college diver whom you have hired to make you extra money. Remember, nobody treats your business as you treat your business!
Lessons Are As Important as Elite Divers
Many diving coaches believe that teaching diving lessons is beneath them. They want that elusive shot at the top – a national champion.
Teaching lessons not only keeps you in contact with the grassroots of diving, but as a coach, you learn something everyday that will assist you in all aspects of your diving program. It is low pressure and low stress work that can grow your bottom line.
Even if time constraints limit your ability to teach lessons full-time, don’t lose touch with lesson divers. Take the time to visit the lessons and help coach on a regular basis, even if it is only for one or two hours per month.
There is No Such Thing as a Monopoly
Even if you are the “only show in town,” be very careful not to get lazy. Remember, you are not just competing against other diving programs (if they exist); you are competing against other youth sports. Your program must stand out against all of them as well. Draw business to your program because of your success and skill as a teacher in all phases of coaching.
Create Separate Groups for Skill Levels
Do not combine team, pre-team, elite, intermediate, lesson programs, or any other diving groups or level of divers! Divers learn more and are happier when they receive instruction within their own peer group.
Many divers may not want to train and compete for a national championship, don’t force them into that scenario. Trying to make a “lesson diver” a national champion will only create a frustrating situation for both the coach and the diver! Don’t loose divers because your expectations are not in line with the diver.
Keep in mind that there are many reasons why a child may be involved in your program that you may not have considered. If they have the desire to reach an advanced level of diving, they will get there. The coach just needs to provide quality instruction and encouragement.
Create Demand by Limiting Supply
Do not allow just anybody to join your team, particularly the upper levels of the team. Inexperienced divers should come up through the ranks not only because it forces them to learn solid fundamentals, but also because it give the coach the time to evaluate whether they deserve to move up to more advanced levels of diving.
When a coach allows any diver, regardless of talent or experience, to join the team, it can slow down practices and create bad team chemistry. This also removes the incentive to improve. “I am already on the team, why should I try that dive?”