Just like you would break down a skill into smaller parts, I am breaking down the reasons for dryland training into smaller parts with the hope that coaches and divers can understand the benefits of working outside the pool. And there are many, ten in fact!
1. Small Blocks Build Better Foundations
Even if you never use a trampoline or dryland diving board, working outside of the pool has huge benefits. The fact that you can break down and practice multiple parts of a kick-out separately, is enough reason to leave the springboard and water to another day. Many dryland workouts do not require a trampoline or springboard, just a stretching mat or landing pit. In other words, any room can turn into your own dryland facility.
2. Less Stress
The stress of smacking or hitting the board can cause even the most experienced diver to make changes in their diving that are not, shall we say, advantageous to success. And these two stresses are only the more obvious pressures that a diver faces. Air temperature, water temperature, lighting ... all these things are distractions and contribute to a drop in concentration. Learning skills and combining those together to create a dive in the less stressful environment that dryland presents can lead to a more productive and confident diver.
3. No Problem, No Pool
No one likes to be without a pool. It’s not an ideal situation to be restricted on pool time due to conflicts, or to be faced with pool rental fees that are astronomical. But dryland training can be a silver lining for this problem in that it allows divers to continue to work hard and improve despite having little pool time. Spending less time at the pool whether it is your decision or not, can also make the time spent in the water that much more productive.
4. Rope Up
As a follow up to less stress, using spotting ropes in conjunction with a trampoline or dryland board can help a diver do more in a safer, less stressful environment, and in a shorter time span than in the pool. I’m not saying that being in the belts is easy (try 20 reverse 2 ½’s while being yanked around by your mid-section) because it has its own set of physical rules, but there is no smack issue, no perfect wetness issue, no call out issue, etc.
5. Rocky Balboa
Have you ever seen the movie Rocky? Rocky trains in a pit disguised as a gym. Now I’m not saying that your dryland center needs to be disgusting in order to produce results, but it doesn’t need to be perfect to produce results either. A really nice facility may make you complacent, while training at Mighty Micks Boxing gym might make divers hungry!
6. Three Ring Circus
It may look like a three ring circus, but a large number of divers can accomplish a lot of work in a dryland workout – provided you have the right number of coaches supervising the situation. In a pool that only has a 1-meter and a 3-meter, a team is going to be limited by the amount of dives that can be done in a specific time span. In a dryland setting you may only have one trampoline, but the options on what can be accomplished with nothing more than open space are limitless.
7. Conditioning and Repetition
A diving workout can be tiring, but it can’t really be characterized as an “aerobic” unless you are sprinting up the platform after every dive. For most teams it consists of do a dive, sit in the shower, do another dive. But any dryland environment can be turned into a conditioning exercise through the repetition of smaller skills (have you heard me talk about small skills before). The combination of these skills with little rest and whallla, you have interval training!
Much of the success of synchronized diving has nothing to do with the dive. Now obviously both divers must have the ability to execute the dive correctly, but more important than that is the timing of the hurdle and takeoff. And this aspect can be practiced and refined in a dryland setting without the use of diving boards.
9. Boredom is a Killer
Go to the pool, do three of each, stand in the shower in between dives and talk to your friends. This sounds like a recipe for burnout for most kids. But heading to the dryland center two or three times a week can vary the training regimen enough that this boredom and burnout might not occur. Of course this doesn't make the car driver too happy, especially if the dryland center is on the opposite side of town. But isn't that what carpools are for?
10. Success is Proof
A major emphasis for the past four years has been dryland training for elite divers, and especially what occurred at the National Training Center in Indianapolis. Whether or not the NTC continues past 2012 in its current format, it has shown that dryland training can produce exceptional elite level divers. If it can help produce world class divers, think how it can help those athletes who have never seen a trampoline or dryland board!