What Diving Parents Should Know
|By Joe Chirico, Head Coach Boston Area Diving|
The sport of diving is safe, fun and exciting. More than 20 million children participate in organized sports, but only a few thousand of the most talented athletes will become divers.
Many young divers dream of the making it to the Olympic Games, others dream of making their high school teams or getting a college scholarship. No matter what size a child’s dream, it is important that the dream is their dream. Parents should nurture these dreams and help them come true.
Being a “diving parent” is just one more facet in the challenging job of being a parent. The goal of this booklet is to provide some pointers. Every situation is different, so you should use your best judgment.
Through Diving your Child can Acquire
• Improved athletic and motor skills;
What is United States Diving?
United States Diving Inc. (USD) is the national governing body of diving, the successor to the Amateur Athletic Union. USD is an independent, not-for-profit corporation formed to promote and improve diving in the United States. Your local association (i.e.. Pacific, Florida, New England) is a subsidiary member. All athletes participating on a U.S. Diving team must register with USD. The annual membership runs from January 1st through December 31st. Currently, Novice level athletes pay a $50 membership fee; Junior Olympic and Senior level athletes pay a $75 fee. Athletes registered with USD automatically receive secondary accident insurance for all supervised practices and sanctioned events. The coverage currently pays up to $25,000 per accident with a $250 deductible. The insurance coverage is secondary, meaning it takes effect only if your primary insurance runs out.
Many parents express concerns about the safety of diving. However, for an athlete who is properly trained by a safety certified coach, diving is an extremely safe sport. “Diving Safety, A Position Paper” published by United States Diving reports on a study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission which found that there were fewer accidents related to diving and diving boards than to golf, bowling or bleachers. A second study conducted by the National Spinal Cord Injury Data Research Center found that half of all diving injuries occurred in rivers, lakes and oceans and that most diving injuries “result from horseplay and injudicious behavior.”
A Diving Parents’ Responsibilities
• Make sure the diver is at practice on time and ready to dive. Siblings and career obligations often make this difficult. Car pools with teammates are often the best solution.
How To Prepare Your Child For A Competition
• Most divers do not need a pep talk from their parents before a meet. Divers usually get excited about competing, and do not need to get “fired up.” Let the coach set the mood and the tone.
How To Handle A Poor Performance
It is impossible for an athlete to give a top performance at every meet. Dealing with disappointment can be much more difficult than dealing with success. A parent should focus on some aspect of the competition that went well. Examples include performing a new dive for the first time in competition, or visible improvements such as a better toe point or higher jump. Allow your diver to be disappointed before trying to cheer them up. A diver needs to know that they can fail and still be supported. Then focus on up-coming events.
Try not to say the following:
• Oh, it’s not that important.
For good practices and meets, it is important that the diver eat well. Many divers have trouble eating before the meet, but they should eat something. If a diver runs out of fuel in the middle of a meet, it is too late to do anything about it.
What Age Group Is My Child In?
Competition levels are divided into the following age groups: 9 & under, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15 and 16-18. A diver’s age as of the last day of the meet determines the age group for that meet. Thus, if your child turns 14 on the last day of a three-day meet, your child will compete in the 14-15 age group for that entire meet.
Communicating with the Coach
A diving coach can have a positive and long-lasting relationship with your child. He or she can help a diver to perform well and make diving a pleasant experience for your child.
The best time to approach a coach is before or after a practice or a meet, not during the event. It is helpful to remember that a coach is most likely concerned with long-term goals and may have a different perspective than the parent. Also, remember that a coach is concerned with the best interests of the team, as well as those of your individual child.
A misunderstanding or miscommunication should be addressed early on before it turns into a more serious problem. Approach the coach with your concern and listen to the coach’s explanation. Some misunderstandings may be a miscommunication on the part of the child. Occasionally a parent may want to remove a child from the sport due to an unpleasant experience. Before making any abrupt moves, a parent should talk to the coach to see if a less drastic step may improve the situation.
Working together, parents and coaches can create a positive atmosphere for a diver. Please remember, it is the parents’ job to support the diver and the program, and the coach’s job to coach.
Before the Meet Starts…
• Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and a healthy meal prior to the competition.
It is important for every diver to know when their event begins, and at what time the coach expects them to be ready to compete.
Once the event has begun, the diver should know their order in the event, and always be prepared to dive when their name is called. Usually, the announcer will call the current diver and the “on-deck” diver (the next diver in the order).
All questions concerning a judge’s call, the conduct of a meet, or the meet results should be directed to the coach. The coach will pursue the matter through the proper channels.
If you are looking for something to do, check with the parents’ organization running the meet. You may be able to help in some way, such as working at the scoring table, or you may want to bring a good book or some work from home
After the Event, A Parent May Want To
• Make sure the child is available for any award ceremonies if applicable.
What To Take To The Meet
• Bathing suits – one for warm-up and one for competition.
In Closing, being a diving parent has many rewards, but it is not always easy. This booklet was designed to help make your role as a diving parent a little more straightforward. This is only a starting point. We hope it is useful