How to Improve Your Form in Diving
Diving competitions are often decided by mere points. A half point here or there can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of a meet. In order to give yourself an advantage and score that extra point, consider focusing on your form.
In diving, form is the term used to describe the way your body appears from when you first step onto the board to the moment you enter the water. This includes your posture, flexibility, and toe point. The sections that follow detail some skills you can work on to improve your form. Most of these are small changes that will yield large rewards.
Good posture makes a dive presentable from the moment you step up to the board. Posture is defined as the position and Carriage of your body as a whole. To have the best posture: Stand with your shoulders back, stomach tucked in, legs tight, and head looking straight forward. Here are a few ways to work on your posture:
- Wall stand: The wall stand will help you learn what proper posture feels like. To perform it, simply stand with your back against a wall. Align your body so that your bottom, shoulders, back of your legs, and heels are all touching the wall. Keep your head straight and your chin parallel to the ground.
- Mirror: Fine-tune your posture by examining your front and side in a mirror. Make sure your head is straight, your shoulders are in line with your ears, your legs are straight, and your back has a slight natural forward curve to your spine. Make subtle adjustments to achieve perfect posture so you know exactly what it feels like.
Good posture will not only help the initial appearance of the dive, but will also increase your ability throughout the dive. It will help you get a great takeoff, and it will help you rip the entry.
Hot Tip: Focus on Your Abs
To strengthen your posture, make sure your abdominal muscles are well-conditioned. Tight abs pull in your spine and help your body line-up vertically. To learn more about abdominal strengthening exercises, take a look at iSport’s guide Importance of Stretching in Diving.
In order to have good form throughout a dive, you need to be flexible. A tight pike position will require that you to get your stomach flat to your body and without any bend in your legs. To do this accurately, flexibility is essential.
Hot Tip: Find a Ballet Studio
If possible, try to set up a weekly ballet class at a local studio. One hour a week on the Barre will greatly increase your posture, flexibility, and strength. To find a local studio, take a look at iSport’s Ballet Studio directory.
The more agile your body is, the easier it is to get into tight positions, maintain tight legs, and enter the water more gracefully. Focus on stretching the following body parts:
- Hamstrings: Flexible hamstrings will help you keep your legs tight when in a deep pike position.
- Quads: Well-stretched quads will help your body get into a tight tuck position as well as help you power off the board or platform.
- Toes: A tight and deep toe point will add beauty to any dive.
- Shoulders: Flexible shoulders will help you circle your arms quickly, both in the air and on the board. This will give your dive more power, while helping protect you against injury at the same time.
- Back: A strong back will help you get into and out of positions quickly while maintaining proper body alignment. It will also help protect you against unwanted injury.
- Wrists: Flexible wrists will help you enter the water and create the desired “rip” entry. It will also help ward off potential wrist injuries that are common in diving.
For more information, detailed stretches can be found in iSport’s guide, Importance of Stretching in Diving.
Practicing Pilates is an excellent way to increase your form. Pilates emphasizes strengthening the core of your body, flexibility, and posture. Additionally, Pilates is fairly easy to implement into your daily routine. Here are some simple Pilates exercises you can add to your diving warm-up:
Hundreds are one of the primary Pilates exercises. Hundreds are a great way to build the core of your body and to warm up before you start diving. Here’s how:
- Lie on your back with your legs bent, your feet on the ground, and your arms by your sides.
- Start taking short, quick breaths: Five in and five out.
- Gently lift your upper body off the floor by scooping (tightening) your stomach muscles, thus activating your core.
- Quickly pump your arms up and down using small movements.
- To increase the intensity, lift your legs into the air. Keep your legs tight with your toes pointed.
- Do a set of at least 20 of these arm-pumps.
The plank is another primary exercise of Pilates. It will help you build strength throughout your body. This exercise targets your arms, shoulders, core, and legs. The strength you gain will help you attain better diving form with less effort. Here is how to do it:
- Start on your hands and knees. Your arms should be straight, but not locked.
- Place one foot back behind your body. This rear leg should be straight and directly behind your torso.
- Move the other foot back behind your body. You should now be balanced on your hands and toes, similar to a push-up position.
- Keep your body flat by engaging your stomach muscles.
- Hold this position as long as you can, or up to two minutes.
Point Your Toes
The last thing a judge will see as you enter the water is your toe point. This small body distinction matters! Point those toes, and watch as your scores bump up. A small rise to your score — even a half point per dive — can be the difference between second place and first.
Work on your toe point by flexing and pointing your feet regularly throughout the day. Focus on this important skill, and watch as your scores boost over time.
Diving is one of the world’s most graceful sports. Part of this comes from the beautiful form divers have. This good form is what makes a dive look polished: It gives it that finishing touch that is necessary if you want to continually win competitions.
Developing good form is something that you can — and should — consistently work on. Focus on the skills mentioned above — posture, flexibility, toe point — and you will quickly see your scores reflect your immaculate form!