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Springboard and Platform Diving/Girl aged 7 afraid of 3m diving

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Question
We live in Veracruz, Mexico. My daughter started diving classes last October. She'd been practicing Olympic gym before, which helped her have the strength, skills and flexibility needed to be admitted in the club, and has helped her have great improvements in a short time. She really loves diving, she says she enjoys it twice as much as anything else she had done before. When she started jumping off the 3m spring board she was a little scared, but easily able to overcome the fear. These last three classes she has not been able to deal with the fear and has not jumped from the 3m board, which has gotten her really depressed and embarassed. I asked the instructor if I could go and jump with her when her peers are not there and he agreed. Do you think this would be a good idea? How can I help her deal with the fear? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Answer
Irene -

It is common for kids this age to develop fears, especially of the 3 meter. To her, the height of the board looks greater than to an adult plus the pool looks very deep to them. This adds to their fear. I would not suggest going off the board with her. I feel parents should just watch and support and not interfere, even if the participation has good intentions. If she stays with diving, there will be many more challenges ahead of her that you will not be able to solve for her. If you go ahead and do help her go off, she will start relying on you to solve her problems.

What I have kids do to overcome this fear is to use a one meter platform. I have them build a takeoff area higher than 1 meter but lower than 3 meters by using folding gymnastic mats. They fold the mat up and place it on the tip, place a towel down so they do not slip. Go off of that height and then add another mat, always placing a towel down. I have them build it higher each jump until it is about 2 meters high. I do not go higher than two meters. This allows them to be closer to the height of the 3 meter. This has always worked for me so I hope her coach will try it.

The use of gymnastic mats does not work on a 1 meter springboard so if the pool does not have a one meter platform, I use another method. I have the diver stand on the end of the 3 meter and I grab them by the biceps in between the shoulder and elbow. I then pick them up and slowly lower them down so they are closer to the water. I have them count to 3 and then let go. I make this a fun thing to do and keep doing it until they will go off on their own.

If the coach keeps it a fun thing to do and not a big requirement, she will most likely go off once again. She is too young to force the issue. Let her take her time and soon she will be going off again in a fun way.

Good luck. Hope all this helps.

Springboard and Platform Diving

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Tom Trapp

Expertise

I can answer any questions pertaining to all levels of springboard and platform diving including : beginner lessons, intermediate, advanced, high school, Junior Olympic, AAU, Masters (Adult), Collegiate and Senior diving. Questions about training, technique, competitions, dryland training including trampoline and dry board.I can answer questions about how to judge/referee diving events.Also questions about how run, direct and administrate all different types of diving meets from novice events through Olympic Trials.I am also available as a consultant and expert witness for legal cases involving diving. I cannot answer questions about swimming (how to dive off a starting block) or SCUBA diving.

Experience

3 time U.S. Diving National Team Coach. Coached World, International and National Junior Olympic individual and team champions. Collegiate level experience (Junior College and Division I).Chairman, U. S. Diving Region 10 and Northern California Diving Associations. Professional diving referee, judge and meet director including U.S. Diving Junior and Senior Nationals, National Qualifying events and Division I collegiate events including the 2010 Men's NCAA Division I Diving Championships. Head Referee for the Big 12 and ACC Conference Diving Championships.Competition Director for past NCAA Men's Division I Nationals and numerous Pac 10 Conference Championships.In 2010, attended the FINA Junior Olympic World Diving Championships to take the International Judging Certification Class which was successfull completed.

Organizations
U.S. Diving. AAU Diving. Professional Diving Coaches Association. FINA.

Education/Credentials
B.S. in Recreation and California Teaching Credential in Physical Education/Aquatics. U.S. Diving Safety Certified Coach.

Awards and Honors
U.S. Diving National Award of Excellence. Northern California Diving Association Coach of the Year. U.S. Diving Region 10 Coach of the Year

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