The sport of diving and the commitment involved varies widely depending on available coaches, instructors, diving clubs, types of swimming pools, and aquatic programs. These opportunities can be generally grouped into different levels of diving instruction progressing from lessons for the beginner, to full-time commitment for the elite diver.
But not every diving program fits neatly into one of these packages. Most of these opportunities combine different aspects of these levels of instruction, creating unique programs. Some diving clubs or swimming pools only offer lessons, while others may work primarily with elite divers. But opportunities similar to these exist for divers in almost every large city or town that has a swimming pool.
- 1-4 Hours Per Week
Time commitments for lesson programs will vary depending on the program and the individual. These lessons can be generally broken down into two types: sessions and weekly/monthly instruction.
Session Programs: Session programs offer lessons over a specified number of weeks or months that can vary from 6 weeks to 3 months. These sessions may take advantage of the summer months or follow breaks in the school year.
Weekly/Monthly Programs: Weekly or monthly programs will offer hourly lessons for the diver, giving the option of receiving anywhere from one to three lessons per week with the parent and diver choosing the number and days of the lessons.
Lessons for both the sessions and weekly/monthly type of programs typically last from 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours with 50 minutes being the norm. These lessons may include time both in, and out of the water, focusing mainly on the one-meter diving board. The goal of these programs is to offer an introduction in a safe and fun introduction to the sport of diving.
- 4-6 Hours Per Week, Diving Meets
After a series of lessons, many divers will decide it is time to increase their level of commitment. The next step is a developmental, grassroots, or “pre-team” level. In this type of program, the diver will shift from an instructional environment to a training environment.
Just as in lesson programs, this type of level can vary in both name and time involved depending on the club or team that sponsors the program. Divers in developmental programs can count on an average of three to four days a week of training and practice, for 1 /12 hours per workout or 6 hours per week. These sessions will usually include a combination of dryland training and water workouts and generally include both one- and three-meter diving. Diving meets are offered for developmental divers that are usually local or regional one-day events.
- 8-20 Hours Per Week, Diving Meets
Referred to by many names such as “junior programs,” “Junior Olympic,” or “Pre-Elite,” these teams switch gears toward the serious nature of training and competition. The intensity becomes greater, the commitment grows, and the types of training begin to vary. Practicing in this type of environment will usually require a commitment on the part of the diver to be a member of a competitive team and a training schedule that continues year-round.
Time commitments in this group can vary depending on both the sponsoring program and time of year. Junior teams may practice upwards of 20 hours per week during a particular part of the season while other times, such as close to important diving meets, this commitment may drop to 6-8 hours. In this type of environment, rest and “non-training” is as important as time spent on the diving board. All this practice and training would be a waste of time if there were not competitions involved, so the diver also needs to consider the time required for diving meets. Junior meets last between 1-3 days and divers will compete in on average, eight meets per year.
Senior or Elite Programs
- 10-40 Hours Per Week, Diving Meets
Senior or elite programs can require as much time as any job or occupation, and for many divers at this level, training for elite level competitions is a job. The time needed to acquire the skills to compete with the best divers in the nation or the world requires a full-time commitment.
Divers at this level combine many aspects of sports training such as strength and flexibility, dryland training, water workouts, sports psychology, and time management skills. Balancing training requirements with a job or educational requirements does not leave much time for other activities, but athletes striving to become the best in their sport understand that sacrifice is a necessary requirement to attain elite or world class status.