1. Enjoy the Time
As with any sport, diving is not always fun. If you are going to be good at diving, you should accept the fact every day at the pool will not always be as much fun as hanging out with friends. You may have a bad day and not want to practice, and if a diver tells me they are having fun learning a dive that scares them to death, I might be a bit skeptical.
Enjoy all parts of the process … the good, the bad and the ugly. Enjoy the successes and the struggle to improve. Enjoy learning things that you did not think were possible. Enjoy finding out things about yourself that you didn’t know. Having fun does not always mean success, but if you enjoy all aspects of learning to dive, you will always become a better diver, and a better person.
2. Patience is Golden
Not many divers are successful from the minute they step onto the pool deck. Even Greg Louganis had his ups and downs. It takes time to be a good diver and every beginner needs to be patient and trust the process.
Many times a diver will do many things that seem to be a waste of time. Doing a front double on your first day to impress all the other kids may be more fun, but learning how to stretch and do a proper line-up is more important. You will get to the double in time, but have patience.
When you do get there and are ready to do the dive the correct way, that double will impress everyone instead of getting them wet. If you listen, follow instructions and have patience, good things are bound to happen.
3. Ask Questions
If you don’t understand something in diving, don’t be afraid to ask. It is important to understand what you are learning, and how it fits into the grand scheme. Many times coaches and instructors are dealing with multiple divers, and may not be able to explain every aspect of their coachng philosophy. So take the initiative and ask the question.
Why is learning a jump important? Why do we do a million back tuck kick outs? Why do I need to learn a dive in tuck when I can do it in layout? Remember, there are no dumb questions! Chances are if you don’t understand something, there is someone else who doesn’t understand it either.
If there is one key physical element that will help a new diver – or any diver for that matter, it is learning how to stretch and increasing flexibility. Flexibility will help a diver more than learning an inward 1 ½, or an inward 2 ½. Once you learn how to increase your flexibility, not only will you learn an inward 1 ½, or an inward 2 ½; the process will be easier and the dives will be better.
More importantly, if you learn to embrace flexibility early, it will not seem like drudgery later in your diving career. Any will coach will tell you; if you want to be good you have to be flexible.
Let’s face it; a good entry into the water is important if you want to get good scores. Let’s call it the “wow” factor. A rip entry can make a mediocre dive good, a good dive great, and a great dive spectacular.
One of the most important parts of a rip is a flathand. Without a flathand, your chances of ripping are not that good. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but you give yourself a much better chance when the first thing that hits the water is your flat hand.
It’s not over there either, once you learn a flathand, keep practicing this technique until it becomes so natural and second nature, that the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning, is grab a flathand!