Springboard and Platform Diving/9 yr old beginner
My daughter is 9 years old and started diving lessons about a year ago. Lessons were sometimes twice a week, other times thrice. It is my opinion that she has not progressed much. The coaches are always nice and have kind words of encouragement to us (parents) to the effect that at this age, kids are still young and inhibited, sometimes lacking focus and motivation. Before my daughter gives up diving, I would like to know if age has anything to do with it, if diving itself is inherently a harder skill to learn and takes more time and patience. I am not expecting her to be competition level at this point, just that she do some basic dives more or less correctly and that doesn't seem to be the case. So I guess what I'm asking is when should we call it quits. We are in Princeton, NJ and there aren't that many choices for diving lessons for kids. Each lesson location is 30-40 min drive. (If you know of some nearby, that info would be much appreciated). If a child doesn't show potential then can coaches recognize that? I know no coach wants to tell a parent that, but it probably would be helpful to know. Diving was what she chose over a few other things that she did. Thank you in advance for your time.
Diving for any age diver is difficult. This sport requires flexibility, strong stomach muscles and acrobatic/gymnastic ability. It also requires training on dry land equipment such as trampolines and dry boards. A 9 year old who is in a program that does not emphasize these skills or have dry land equipment is probably a recreational level team. Since I do not know if the above mentioned skills are a part of what she does at practice, it is difficult to answer this question accurately.
If your daughter is enjoying her workouts, is learning something and having fun, then why quit? I would never encourage a kid that age to stop a sport. Quitting diving comes much later in a divers career, such as completion of college diving after her senior year in which they retire from diving and move on with their life.
If you are watching all of her practices and evaluating whether or not she is improving, I think you'll find yourself getting discouraged. You should leave the evaluations to the coach. A very successful college coach friend of mine used to coach young kids this age and would tell the parents that if they did not watch practice at all for a few months and then came back for a special display of their new skills that they would then see improvement. I know that it would be difficult to sit in the car in cold weather but if you could find a way to stop watching practice, it might help you see the improvement you are looking for.
If you want to look into other diving programs in your state, here are some websites to go to:
www.usadiving.org - Click on Join USA Diving and then Find A Club. Enter NJ and a list of teams will come up.
www.aaudiving.org - another source for finding a team but a little harder to use than the USA Diving one.
www.divemeets.com - Click on Find and then Teams. A huge list will come up of teams from all over the world. Look under AAU Diving first by scrolling down and looking in the third column for teams in NJ. Click on the teams name for contact info. Then scroll way down to USA Diving and do then same thing. Also under Find, click on Pools and then look for pools in NJ. If a pool in NJ is near you then they will have a diving program as it will be a pool that hosts major meets by a local team. You will probably find pools at Rutgers and College of New Jersey.
www.diving.about.com - Site that explains the sport. In the search box, enter lessons or Learn to Dive and read articles about what to expect.
It is ironic that you live in city with one of the best diving pools on the east coast which is the pool on the campus of Princeton. Unfortunately, the only people who get to use it are the students.
In conclusion, a coach can recognize if a child does not have potential but it does take a while. If a kid has the guts to do the sport they can still do well but if they are overly afraid it may be a sport to do recreationally and not strive toward competition.
Good luck and please don't have her quit. Way too young to consider that as an option.