There’s an old saying, “Practice makes perfect,” that applies to diving particularly well. Divers should practice multiple times a week, for several hours each session. During these workout sessions, there are a handful of drills that will help a diver in his/her pursuit of excellence. These drills may seem monotonous or unproductive, but they are essential to building consistency in your diving.
Below is a list of the four most common drills coaches will have their divers work on.
1. Kick-out Drills
Knowing how to come out of a dive properly is important. Not only will it help stop your rotation, but it will also help you line up properly so you can rip the entry.
There are different ways to come out of a dive that depend on several factors: Direction of the dive, simplicity of the dive, and/or position of the dive. Because of this, there are several kick-out drills you will need to know. Here are the two most common kick-out drills:
Back & Reverse Dive Tuck
Here is a kick-out drill for a back or reverse dive tuck:
- Spread a towel or mat out on the ground.
- Lie on your back. Keep your legs straight, knees locked, toes pointed, and arms straight above your head (close to your ears).
- Lift your head, arms, and legs off the ground — bringing them all together in the middle —and balancing on your sit bones.
- Grab your shins in a tuck position, and keep your head looking out above your knees.
- As you lower your body back down to the ground, kick your legs out strongly at a 60 degree angle to the floor.
- As you kick, simultaneously place your arms to the sides of your body. Your arms should form a T-position with your body.
- Tilt your head back, and reach your arms into a Flat-hand grab above your head.
- Squeeze your entire body, release, and repeat.
- Do a set of five.
Kicking-out of a dive is slightly different than kicking-out of a rotation. The reason is in the timing. During a dive, you will have more time to look for the water. During a rotating somersault, your kick-out will need to be sharp and quick. Practicing both styles of kick-outs will help you achieve success.
Back & Reverse Multiple Somersaults
For back and reverse somersaulting dives, the kick-out is slightly different. Your arms slide up the center of your body, rather than to your sides. Here is how to practice this kick-out drill:
- Start with steps 1-4 above.
- As you kick your legs out of the tuck position, grab your hands (flat-hand position) and position them at the base of your stomach.
- Drag your arms up the length of your body, until they are over your head in an outstretched position.
- As your arms are coming up your body, follow your hands with your head. When your hands go above your head, tilt your head back and look at your hands.
- Squeeze your entire body in the layout position, release, and repeat the move.
- Do a set of five.
2. Entry Drills
Practicing lineups, both on the ground and in the water, is a guaranteed way of improving your entry into the water. Most coaches will have you perform a series of front and back lineups when you first enter the pool.
However, there are a few drills that you can practice daily on the ground… before you even get in the pool! Here they are:
Tight Body Alignment
A great way to practice the ideal lineup position is to simulate it on the ground. Here is how:
- Lie on your back on a spread out towel or mat.
- Keep your legs together, knees straight, and toes pointed.
- Place your arms above your head so your body is elongated.
- Grab your hands above your head in a flat-hand grab, and squeeze your arms to your head.
- Tilt your head slightly so your eyes are focused on your hands.
- Squeeze this entire position for 10 seconds, release for 2 seconds, and squeeze again for 10.
- Do a set of 10.
Not only are you able to practice swims and saves during a lineup into the water, you can also practice this important series on the ground. Here is how:
- Stand on the ground with your feet together, and your legs straight and elongated.
- Raise your arms above your head, and grab your hands in the flat-hand grab position.
- Squeeze your arms tightly to your head.
- While still squeezing your arms, flick your wrists sharply out away from your body. Make sure to move only your wrists and not your arms.
- Pike your legs at the waist and swim (pull) your arms down slightly in front on your body.
- Do a set of five.
3. Position Drills
In the air — especially in multiple flipping dives — position is critical. If you are in a wide tuck or loose pike position, the dive will not look good and your scores will suffer.
Hot Tip: Use a Stickler
To help keep your feet together in tuck position, try using a stickler. A stickler is a padded strap that attaches around your ankles. Attached with Velcro, this strap ensures that your feet will stay together.
To get into a good tuck or pike position, you must practice getting into the proper position every day. Here is how to do it:
While sitting on the ground, get into the correct tuck and pike positions. Hold each position for two seconds, release, and repeat. Do a series of five tuck and pike holds. Here is what the proper tuck and pike holds look like:
- Tuck hold: Knees together, toes pointed, hands grabbing each shin, head looking out above knees, and elbows in close to the body.
- Pike hold: Arms wrapped around calves, stomach flat to the legs, legs together, knees locked, and toes pointed.
4. Hurdle Drills
The hurdle is one of the most important parts of springboard diving. You can practice the hurdle multiple times a day, both at the pool and at home. Perfecting this one skill will immensely help your diving. There is a reason why most coaches will insist that you work on this skill constantly! Here are some common hurdle drills:
To strengthen your hurdle and make your last step more powerful, try this jumping drill:
- Stand about a foot away from an elevated box or mat.
- Lunge deeply with your Power leg.
- Perform your hurdle. Raise your opposite leg to a 90 degree angle (so it’s parallel to the floor) and jump onto the elevated mat/box.
- At the same time, swing your arms in front of your body. Keep your arms straight, and position them so they are over your head.
- Land with two feet on the box, and your arms raised above your head.
- Do a set of at least five.
On a dryland diving board, perform your hurdle with a five-step approach. At the conclusion of the hurdle, double-bounce on the end of the board before you jump or flip onto the mat. The double-bounce on the end of the board— or hop drill — is a great way to maintain balance in your hurdle, and to feel the rhythm and timing of the board.
The goal of a drill is to use repetitive movements and sequences to develop consistency over time. In order to kick-out and rip the entry of a spinning back 2 ½ tuck, for example, you need to know how to do it quickly and effectively. The movements need to become habit that you instinctively perform. By working on the drills described above, you will notice your diving mechanics becoming natural habits in no time!