Indiana International School of Diving
A Long Term Training Plan
I. Levels Theory
The Indiana International School of Diving Levels are designed to produce the safest and most competitive long term diving accomplishments for your child. Each Level presents its challenges, and may take considerable time to master. Some Levels may be passed easily by talented divers, but most divers will stall out and struggle through the challenges of higher levels. Realistically, even divers who have the highest potential may spend more than 12 months in any one level, especially if they are young. We operate according to the philosophy that 8 Time Olympic Coach Dr. Ron O’Brien has crystallized in his words… “It does not matter who learns skills first, but who learns them best.” The IISD will actively train each diver to develop their best performance, and we shall do so with a long term, proven, and organized approach.
The skills taught in the higher Levels may take years to master, yet may eventually open the door to accelerated performance later on. It is not unusual, for example, for very talented divers to attempt Level 4 skills more than 5 times before they pass the Level. The same is true for Levels 5-10. However, all divers can – and in this program are expected to – improve their performance incrementally over time.
Preparing the diver for higher skills may involve changing the diver’s body with respect to strength and flexibility, quickness, or training capacity. To improve these areas of development is both a long term goal and a daily challenge for divers. Strength, flexibility, or conditioning improvements can easily take many months to manifest. Broadening a diver’s capacity to train additional categories of dives is a slow and arduous task. The requisite experience an athlete needs for high level performance in a meet situation may take years to develop. Most high level divers are developed over more than a decade of precise training. Over time, the divers’ dreams may grow as their capacity to succeed grows.
The very talented diver often offers our organization a double edged sword of training challenges. Such divers may learn quickly in many areas of general diver development, and naturally receive a wide base of skill challenges at practice. Traditionally, our greatest divers face a great range of practice challenges. In the short run, this may result in the inability to master their skills to the finest detail, because the diver is spread thin in their experience of each diving skill. However, once a broad platform of fundamentals is introduced, our most talented athletes may then accumulate, through careful planning, the volume of skill repetition needed to master a greater range of diving skills than the average athlete. Elite divers often train outside their immediate level, and eventually return to their core fundamentals until they have shown mastery of those skills. This approach may initially delay the diver’s advancement through the levels, but will inevitably accelerate the student’s learning curve by providing them experience with more skills.
II. Competition System and Meet Format Descriptions
The Indiana International School of Diving has the most advanced competition and diver evaluation system in the United States today. We have been operating a competitive system since 2000 that has benefited our divers in ways that have not been accomplished elsewhere in the country. We incorporate 3 meet formats throughout the year that each contribute to the development and accurate assessment of our divers’ movement patterns. Our greatest claim to fame is the creation of the nation’s first Diving Levels format that has been designed to accurately guide safe, progressional learning in the sport of diving. The following information will help parents understand the philosophy and the characteristics of each meet format.
Levels Meets – Our Levels Meets compose 2/3 of our meet experiences. They have been designed to develop several essential components of teaching diving systematically. The Levels, starting at Level 1 and continuing to Level 10, establish a comprehensive and progressional order in which diving skills need to be taught and mastered. Diving skills are linked to each other like building blocks. Based on biomechanic motor learning theory, the mastery of one Level is essential before the mastery of the next Level can be attained. Divers need to maintain previously learned skills as they move on to more complex skills or their development in the sport will be unpredictable, and potentially unsafe. The Levels evaluations provide the coaches with accurate feedback as to which skills have been mastered and which skills, or components of a skill, require further development. Mastering each key component of each diving Level will enable the athlete to navigate through their lifetime in the sport safely and, in the long run, better than his/her competitors.
In the Dryland and Water Levels Meet Formats, not all diving skills are performed from the diving boards. We have developed stations of activities that are performed in the water, from the side of the pool, on dryland diving boards, on the trampoline, and from the diving boards into the water. We recognize this portion of the lesson as the fun time for the diver and as the portion that really fosters a growing interest in the sport. We also recognize that stretching and exercise portion on the gymnastics mats as the most important portion of the lesson for the beginning diver.
Meet Format #1: Dryland Levels Meets
This meet format assesses the core skills of all divers – strength, flexibility, timing, sequential movements, and accuracy and form of diving movements. This is, essentially, our most important format for diver development. Dryland Levels training allows the divers to develop the above characteristics in an environment that removes the diver from potentially hazardous landings on the board, platform, or water surface. When the diver has mastered all the above components to perform a dive, instruction on the water becomes safe, successful, and accelerated. The establishment of Levels in the Dryland Meet Format establishes order and reason in a diver’s training, progressionally speaking. The importance of the above core skills is described below.
- Strength: Divers need to develop core muscle strength to perform diving movements. Coaches can only expect divers to successfully perform diving movements with proper form and posture if the divers are strong enough to move their bodies through the required diving movements. Usually performed in groups, dive-specific strength enhancement directly influences the success of the attempted diving movements. We have established multi-week blocks of exercises that progress athletes throughout the levels of diving. The Dryland Meet Format tests the students ongoing development of strength.
- Flexibility: Divers need to develop dive-specific flexibility. In order to eventually attain correct positions required in diving, athletes must have a remarkable range of movement with their bodies. Developing flexibility is a long term, constant process. Flexibility is joint specific, meaning the measure of flexibility in the shoulders in no way influences the flexibility of other body parts. It is critical to develop proper, full body flexibility in young divers because the window for improving a person’s joint flexibility begins to permanently close at age 10. Flexibility then reduces slightly during the growth spurt of puberty, and returns after some time. Generally, a person’s structural range of movement is fixed after age 10, but can be maintained and maximized at this level for a career. New divers older than 10 can greatly improve their flexibility, though only through a fixed range. The Dryland Meet Format tests the students ongoing development of flexibility.
- Timing: Divers need to develop timing to perform competitive dives. While strength conditioning ensures the athlete’s ability to make the proper diving movements, and flexibility training ensures the athlete’s ability to move through the full range of desired movements, timing development allows the divers to make the movements at the right moment. The divers are often performing a dive takeoff and entry in less than 2.5 seconds, during which they may be required to make more than 10 specific movements. The timing of each movement is essential to the successful completion of the dive. Dryland training develops the timing of dive movements, and Dryland Meets test the athlete’s ability to time their movements correctly.
- Sequential Movements: Divers need to develop a cognitive understanding and motor memory of the order in which diving movements must be made. Many of the body’s innate reactions to the environment must be retrained in order for the diver to make the right movements in the right order, and land on their head (which by nature, is a very unnatural activity for humans). Dryland training places the divers in the upside down positions they will be faced with during their water training, and allows them to move their body parts in the correct sequence for dive performance. Dryland Meets evaluate the order in which diving movements are made.
- Accuracy and Form of Diving Movements: Divers need to develop form and accuracy in their diving movements in order to produce and aesthetic finished product in their dives. The right movements at the right time through the right range of movement will do little to help the diver compete if the dive is poorly executed with respect to accuracy and form. Form follows function in diving, and must be taught after the required diving movements can be made. The Dryland training system allows divers to repeat diving movements at a much greater frequency than training in the water. In the Dryland arena, more than 300 diving actions can be performed in the amount of time it requires to do about 50 water dives. This high volume of repetition allows the divers the much needed resource to become consistently accurate with their diving movements. Repetition makes the master. The Dryland Meet Format evaluates the accuracy of repeated diving movements.
Meet Format #2 Water Levels Meets
This meet format assesses proper transfer of the core skills to the water environment. This format is the next most important format for diver development. Water Levels training allows divers to transfer the above characteristics in an environment that is specific to each part of every essential diving skill. The Water Levels Meet Format allows diving instructors to see each puzzle piece of a dive that will later be put together in a final product of performance. The Water Levels are designed as a parallel function to the development of Dryland Levels. Proper mastery of one Water Level is necessary to establish the building blocks for proper mastery of the next Water Level. Most successful divers will achieve first in the Dryland arena, and transfer this success to the water over time. Missing components of the skills tested in the Water Levels Meets will invariably show up as faulty finished products in the next meet format.
Meet Format #3: USA/FINA Diving Meets
This meet format is the established format for national and international level competition. The dives performed are essentially a measure of the finished product of the divers’ development in those dives at the time of competition. This meet format is much more outcome focused that the Levels Meets, which are process-oriented. Our organization strives to keep the divers focused on the process of bettering their skills, in the Levels Format, for most of the competitive year. For those who are ready, a 2 to 3 month championship training cycle is implemented for USA Diving competition. This type of training should take place only when the necessary components of diving success are in place, so that coaches can prepare athletes for a positive and successful competition.
At USA/FINA Diving Meets, the highest levels of our program compete with the best divers at the national and international level. Two of the top world programs, the Chinese and Russian diving programs, have learned to recognize the importance of progressional diving training that greatly precedes USA/FINA competition training. Typically, the divers of these two international powers may not even touch the water until going through three grueling years Dryland training. Obviously, our children would risk loosing interest if we attempted this exact system in the USA, so we have designed a more holistic balance of dive training for our children.
For our USA/FINA Diving Meets, we have created the nationally recognized Future Champions Levels of competition for divers who may not be ready for the dive requirements of the standard FINA meet format. This way, divers who are still new to the sport with respect to skill attainment can be introduced to this final meet format in a way that accurately addresses their appropriate level of skill attainment and meet preparation.
Through the incorporation of the above 3 meet formats throughout the competitive year, the IISD are leading the way in preparing our divers for the higher levels of competition. At the Levels Meets, we evaluate and provide achievement report cards that share a detailed assessment of the diver’s ongoing progress. We recognize the long term focus of our plan will better prepare our divers for lifelong success beyond the high school and college diving circuit. Because of our systematic devotion to proper progressional learning, our athletes have become very marketable to college recruiters. Our goal is to fill in all the skills necessary to achieve greatness in diving, without skipping any essential components in the interest of short term success. Additionally, we try to provide all the resources in equipment and coach education to accelerate the learning process as much as possible. Please enjoy the next competitive season with the Indiana International School of Diving!
III. Water Levels Synopsis – Level by Level
NOTE: Students must pass 85% of the skills required for each level before they can progress to the next level. Dryland Levels better prepare the divers for Water Levels.
Level 1 Synopsis:
Level 1 diving is designed for all ages of beginners, specifically very young and very new divers. The curriculum allows divers with little experience to enjoy challenges with skills they can do successfully. All the skills in this level are designed so they can experience a sense of accomplishment in a sport that is probably new to them. The interconnectedness of all the levels greatly prepares the divers for the next level’s challenges. Level 1 defines the most basic skills that are absolutely necessary to participate in the sport. New or young students will be challenged with the simple skills presented here.
Level 2 Synopsis:
Level 2 diving is designed to prepare the divers for a more functional group of fundamental diving skills than Level 1. Successful completion of Level 2 lays the groundwork for diving takeoffs, diving entries, timing and connection into and out of the tuck position, and proper sequence of basic tuck comeout actions. Level 2 skills are the specific prerequisites for the first wave of competitive dives that are introduced in Level 3.
Level 3 Synopsis:
Level 3 diving is designed to transfer Level 1 and Level 2 skills into more holistic performance of the earliest competitive dives, particularly front and inward dives. The goal of this group is to develop their physical fitness, coordination and confidence while working on the Level 3 skills. Aside from teaching front and inward dives, Level 3 is a prerequisite stomping ground for the armswing skills, back and reverse dives, and somersaulting dives that are introduced in Level 4. In Level 3, lineups become more complicated in preparation for Level 4 skills.
Level 4 Synopsis:
Level 4 diving is packed with new material, as well as a review and advancement of the front and inward dives taught in Level 3. These divers will compete locally in various developmental meets and will focus on the basic skills necessary for competitive diving. Level 4 introduces back and reverse dives, and front and inward somersaults. Level 4 develops takeoff mechanics, armswing skills and lineup techniques. Furthermore, it covers some prerequisites for dives in the pike position, back and reverse somersaults, and multiple somersaulting dives. Divers completing level 4 are already well on their way to competing on both levels with basic dives. As is the case with the earlier levels, Level 4 teaches the prerequisites that are essential for successful completion of Level 5.
Level 5 Synopsis:
Level 5 is certainly a long way from the skills acquired in Level 1. This level introduces the pike position for forward and inward dives, and front and inward multiple somersaults. The level teaches a more advanced hurdle and armswing technique, as well as the prerequisites for twisting dives. Lineups are advanced again in preparation for higher levels of competition. Level 5 – 3 Meter is greatly developed in terms of dive volume. Level 5 is the milestone for divers passing from beginning levels into what will soon be very high levels of competition, and the challenges of the forward approach.
Level 6 Synopsis:
Level 6 is generally the landmark level for divers to become competitive in the Junior National circuit. US Diving requirements are synonymous with the types of competitive skills introduced here. Introduced on the 1 meter are double somersaults in the front, back, reverse directions, as well as forward 1 ½ somersaults and inward 1 ½ somersaults tuck. 3 meter skills include front 2 ½ somersaults, back and reverse 1 ½ somersaults, and inward 2 somersaults. In Level 6, competitive twisting dives are introduced at the beginning level, including prerequisites for more complex twisting dives. Multiple bounce approaches are taught along with complex sequences of body movements on voluntary dives. Additionally, Back and reverse dives are taught in the pike position. Level 6 divers need a good measure of strength, quickness, and timing to pass this challenging level.
Level 7 Synopsis:
Level 7 carries on where Level 6 left off, with more competitively advanced skills. This level introduces dives that are useful at all levels of competition. 1 meter skills include back and reverse 1 ½ somersaults and front 2 ½ somersaults in the tuck position. Also front 2 somersaults pike and inward 1 ½ somersaults pike are evaluated. Twisting dives advance to additional twists and/or additional somersaulting actions. 3 meter skills advance to front 2 ½ pike and back, reverse, and inward 2 ½ somersaults tuck. Back and reverse single somersaults in the pike position are also introduced. After passing Level 7, divers will likely begin to realize and enjoy their special status as an accomplished diver in nearly any competitive setting.
Level 8 Synopsis:
Level 8 takes divers where few will ever go. The goal of this group is to perfect each skill in a competitive list of dives and to develop and maintain optimum physical conditioning in order to compete at the national level. Building on the accomplishments of the difficult previous Level, 3 meter 2 ½’s are transferred to the 1 meter board; pike optional somersaults are prepped on the 1 meter, and one meter optionals are advanced. Forward 3 ½ somersaults is introduced on the 3 meter board; and multiple twisting dives in every direction are taught. Furthermore, multiple somersaulting/twisting dives are introduced. Athletes who pass Level 8 have a sure chance of qualifying and scoring at the Junior National Championships in any age group or gender. Level 8 divers train 5-6 days a week at 3 or more hours per day and are prepared to compete well throughout the United States each year.
Level 9 Synopsis:
To learn Level 9 is to graduate the apprenticeship stage and to enter the mastery level in the sport of diving. Divers at this level progress to some of the high degree of difficulty skills that are seen performed by Olympic Medalists, which may include exciting dives like 4 ½ ss and 3 ½ ss tuck or pike in every direction.
Level 10 Synopsis:
Level 10 skills are reserved for those divers who have the ability and desire to push historical limits in high level dive performance and diving difficulty. Currently, Level 10 is a category reserved for divers who can perform the skills of world class athletes. Divers at this level will design the level under their coach’s mentorship in a way that meets the athlete’s aspirations.
As the program continues to grow and as our coaches’ education reveals more answers, the above Diving Levels and their requirements may be modified to meet the needs of the program’s success.
Everybody falls down in life.
Winners get up.
Gold Medalists simply get up faster than anyone else in the world.
Our divers will fall down at times… we will teach them to get up