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Introductory and Beginning Divers

This is an excerpt from Springboard and Platform Diving by Jeffrey Huber.

Level 1: Introductory and Beginning Divers


Level 1 is the entry level for the sport of diving. It is perhaps the most important level because the primary coaching objectives are to hook young kids on the great sport of diving and begin laying a rock-solid foundation for success. Building this foundation involves providing deliberate play; creating a warm and accepting environment that engenders a positive physiological response to the sport; presenting diving-related concepts; teaching simple mental and cognitive skills (chapters 9 and 10); initiating introductory stretching and conditioning routines (chapter 8); being mindful of an annual training plan (chapter 9), and teaching simple dryland, trampoline, and diving skills.


Recall from chapter 1 that deliberate play is a loosely structured activity that uses flexible rules, de-emphasizes improving performance, and emphasizes fun. In contrast, deliberate practice is a highly structured activity that emphasizes improving performance (e.g., error detection, skill development) and giving maximal physical, mental, and emotional effort. Deliberate play and deliberate practice are equally important for developing expertise (Côté, Baker, & Abernethy, 2003).


Level 1 Introductory Diver

The introductory diver is someone brand new to the sport. These divers are most likely very young children who have had no experience with diving and little if any experience with other sports. The main emphasis at this level is to help these newbies become excited and enthusiastic to the point that they go home and tell mom and dad that they want to continue in the sport and practice more often. Coaches promote such a response and attitude by making sure introductory divers experience fun, find success, interact positively with other divers, receive positive reinforcement, and practice in an inviting and nurturing environment.


The introductory stage should be relatively brief. The diver should advance fairly quickly from this stage to the subsequent stage - the beginning diver stage.


Level 1 Introductory Diver Concepts

  1. Diving is fun!
  2. Learning new skills is fun!
  • Level 1 introductory diver deliberate practice: 20 percent
  • Level 1 introductory diver deliberate play: 80 percent

The goal here is to keep it fun and playful. Young divers will have plenty of time to become more serious about the sport later in their careers.


Level 1 Introductory Diver Games

  1. Silly dives
  2. Simon says
  3. Play time - Divers are allowed to do whatever they like during the last 10 minutes of practice.


Level 1 Introductory Diver Practice Frequency and Duration

  1. Two or three days per week
  2. Each practice should be approximately 30 to 45 minutes in duration.
  3. Level 1 introductory diver should transition to the beginning diver level after four to six weeks.


Level 1 Introductory Diver Mental Skills

  1. Have fun.
  2. Think positively.
  3. Positive self-talk - Talk positively to oneself and to teammates.


Level 1 Introductory Diver Cognitive Skills

  1. Pay attention and remember the coach’s instructions.
  2. Be mindful of and courteous to other athletes.


Level 1 Introductory Diver Warm-Up Routine

This warm-up routine is used with minimal additions by all levels of divers. Starting with the level 1 beginning diver (the subsequent section), a stretching routine is introduced. The following warm-up routine should be done as a group with coach supervision.

  1. Jump rope or jumping jacks for 30 seconds.
  2. Lace the fingers and swivel the hands (loosen up wrists and forearms): eight clockwise and eight counterclockwise. Simultaneously swivel the foot with the heel up and toes on the ground, and then switch to the opposite foot.
  3. Hands on hips and roll hips: eight clockwise and eight counterclockwise.
  4. Head circles (loosen up neck muscles): eight clockwise and eight counterclockwise.
  5. Swing arms back and forth eight times.
  6. Swing each leg back and forth eight times.
  7. Bend the knees, hands on knees, and circle the hips eight times clockwise and eight counterclockwise.
  8. Bend the knees, place the palms on a mat, and then straighten the legs with the palms remaining on the mat.
  9. Sit on the mat, bend the knee, grab the foot, and rotate the ankle with the hands. Then switch to the opposite foot.
  10. Pull the hands back to stretch the wrists and prepare for a flat-hand water entry.
  11. Lateral leg swings: While holding on to a bar, swing one leg eight times from side to side, and then switch and swing the other leg.
  12. Medial leg swings: Hold on to a bar, bend over, and kick one leg up and behind eight times; then switch legs.
  13. Upper body twists: With the arms in a T position, twist from side to side eight times.
  14. Butterfly stretch: Seated on a mat, bend the knees, push the bottoms of the feet together, and pull the feet into the body.
  15. Quad stretch: From a standing position, bend one knee and grab the foot from behind.


Level 1 Introductory Diver Coach Reminders

  1. Keep it fun, playful, and social.
  2. Create slight challenges, but ensure success.
  3. Create a positive conditioned response.
  4. Keep practices short - not all skills and drills can be performed at each practice.
  5. Include deliberate play.


A checklist is provided for each level that outlines the dryland, dryboard, and trampoline drills for skill development and physical conditioning, as well as the springboard and platform drills and dives to be performed by the diver at each level.

Learn more about Springboard and Platform Diving.