The dos and don’ts of getting started in diving
How diving beginners can avoid injury
If you thought you could never dive gracefully into a swimming pool from a great height, think again. Diving is fast becoming a hot new sporting trend. Perhaps it’s seeing the enviable physique of diving stars like Tom Daley that’s made us want to try this daunting sport, or perhaps it’s the dare-devil adrenaline hit most of us feel is missing from our day-to-day lives that is causing us to don our Lycra and take the plunge into the world of diving. However, the reason for this growing interest in diving does not matter. What does matter is that you stay safe. Here we explain the dos and don’ts of diving and show you how to avoid injury.
Do progress gradually
Do not, we repeat, do not boldly climb the springboard ladder at your local pool in the mild hope that you’re going to be a natural at diving. Although diving can be an extremely safe sport, there are dangers, and if you are new to diving you will need to train in order to prepare for the moment when you first use the springboard.
If you are a complete diving novice, start simply by doing a sitting dive. To do this, sit on the edge of the pool with your feet resting on either the swimming pool trough or the rail. Put your arms into the diving position and, with your head between your arms, raise your hips before launching yourself into the water. Once you feel confident and comfortable with your technique, progress to the kneeling dive, then the crouch dive and finally finish by working on your standing dive.
Do use dry land diving equipment
Hands up if you knew that divers used trampolines to perfect their techniques and trial out new moves? Nope, not many people do. Dry land equipment is the name given to lots of different diving equipment that helps divers to improve their technique safely. For example, you can practise turns on a stretching mat, or sequences on a trampoline. Other dry land equipment includes a dry land diving board, spotting equipment and video recorders.
Dry land equipment does not just help you to perfect your diving technique, dry land equipment can also help you to avoid injury, boost your diving confidence and help you to be creative with your moves. It is well worth ringing diving clubs or your local pools or buying some basic equipment if want to progress safely as a diver.
If you’re like most people the biggest fear you’ll have about diving is hitting the water and stinging your skin with a huge belly flop. To avoid this embarrassing and painful diving error you need to make sure you are streamlined when you dive off of the springboard. To make sure you are streamlined ensure your hands enter the water first and extend your legs behind you.
If you struggle to do this then you need to work on your balance and your strength doing specific diving exercises.
Don’t stop practising the fundamentals
Once you have grasped how to perform the fundamentals of diving, such as the board work and takeoffs, do not stop practising. As with most things in life there is always room for improvement and if you want to dive safely and avoid injury you will need to continually go over these skills and moves. This is because some of the more serious diving injuries are caused by bad takeoffs and practising these techniques will help you to prevent this error.
Although you might not think hitting the board would hurt that much, you can break bones, get concussion or split your skin. None of these injuries sound particularly fun, so make sure you practise.
Don’t skip the gym
Other than the obvious danger of falling from a distance into a pool of water, diving poses other injury threats. For example, diving repeatedly uses the wrists, the back and the neck. The impact these body parts endure when you begin to dive regularly can result in a repetitive injury which can be very limiting and painful.
To make sure your foray into diving isn’t short-lived hit the gym. Here you should build strength in your shoulders using weight machines, such as the chest fly machine, or using free weights. Wrist guards can also help ease the strain on your wrists and can be worn when you are diving or practising. Although not as strenuous, stretching is also beneficial to your diving and it will help you to avoid neck injuries.