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Overcoming the Fear of Smacking in Diving

If you have been diving for any length of time, chances are you have experienced the unpleasant feeling of a smack. A smack is essentially a belly flop or a back flop onto the water. The experience is unpleasant: It can be painful and cause you to overanalyze a dive.

For most smacks, the pain is minor. It may sting for a bit, but it goes away quickly. For most divers the worst part of a smack is the fear or uncertainty it generates. Usually when a smack occurs, the diver was lost in his/her rotation or twisting movement at some point in the dive. This feeling generates a sense of panic. It is usually this feeling — not the actual pain of the smack — that can paralyze a diver and interrupt his/her psyche.

Fortunately, there are ways to regain your confidence after a smack. Below are three tips that can help you overcome the fear of smacking and become a better diver as a result.

1. Dryland

Hot Tip: Learn to Spot

Learning how to spot will not only help you avoid a smack, but it can also give you the confidence of knowing where you are in the air. By knowing where you are in a dive, you prevent the unpleasant feeling associated with being lost. To get more information on this important skill, take a look at iSport’s guide How to Visually Spot in Diving.

One of the best ways to overcome a smack is to repeat the dive in a dryland environment. In the safety of a harness over the trampoline, port-a-pit, or water, you can repeat the motions of the dive without the fear of smacking. A coach can guide you in your movements and help establish where you need improvement. This is a great way to learn the mechanics of a dive without the fear of a smack. To get a better idea of what dryland diving entails, take a look at iSport’s guide The Benefits of Dryland Training in Diving.

2. Bubble Machine

Another tool that you can use to help you overcome a smack is a bubble machine. The bubble machine is a tool that pushes air pressure from the bottom of the pool to the surface of the water. This added pressure breaks up the surface tension of the water and helps to soften your landing: It will take away some of the sting that may occur if you land poorly in the water. The bubble machine can often give you an added piece of confidence you need to commit to the dive, or even attempt it in the first place.

3. Layering

One of the best things you can do after a smack is to laugh it off! By laughing, you realize that a smack isn’t that bad. It may hurt for a while, but the pain goes away quickly. Think of your smack as a rite of passage that will make you a stronger and better diver.

For diving facilities that don’t have a dryland facility or a bubble machine, many times divers will strap on extra layers to help protect against the sting of a smack. By placing a t-shirt or a wet suit on your body, the smack may not hurt as much. This is a last ditch effort to overcoming a smack. In reality, it may take away some of the sting, but layering really does little to assist with the dive. However, if layering will give you that added piece of confidence to attempt the dive — by all means, put an extra layer on!

There’s No Easy Fix

Unfortunately there isn’t a magic cure for overcoming a smack. Smacking in diving is a rite of passage: All divers will smack at some point in their career. The three tips listed above can help you regain confidence that may be lost because of a smack. However, in reality they won’t help you avoid smacking altogether. When it comes right down to it, the only way to overcome a smack is to work past it. Keep trying the dive, and in time you will overcome your fear of smacking and become a better diver because of it.

Smacking is an unavoidable consequence of learning how to dive. This guide contains three tips that can help you overcome the fear of smacking.
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