Spotting, in particular hand spotting, is becoming an integral part of diving instruction. As coaches use dryland training to supplement actual diving in the water, performing somersaults without the use of a spotting belt or harness, both on trampoline and on the ground, becomes increasingly important.
The point here is not talk about hand spotting per se, but one aspect of liability that is associated with hand spotting – the simple fact that this type of spotting involves a literal hands “on” approach by the coach.
Hand spotting can, and does involve physical contact between a coach and a diver. By and large, this physical contact is kept to a minimum – such as a coaches hand placed in the small of a diver’s back in order to help the somersault rotate during a back flip.
On the rare occasion that something goes wrong, and a coach needs to act quickly, appropriately and in a manner to insure the safety of a diver, the coach must do whatever is necessary to keep the diver from harm. An action that could be considered as inappropriate in another situation may be the only thing that separates a diver from landing on their feet or their head.
In our litigious society, where individuals will bring about a lawsuit due to the fact that they can’t hold onto a cup of hot coffee, it is important that coaches be aware that this aspect of training and may be a cause for concern among parents and make sure that they understand what this entails - both verbally, and in writing.
The Bottom Line: Parents need to understand that hand spotting and physical contact are an accepted and appropriate aspect of a diving training program, and coaches need to make sure that if they use hand spotting, that this aspect of their coaching program is both communicated to, and understood by a diver’s parents!