How to Be a Successful Diving Parent

We wish to thank our parents for accepting the difficult task of being a diving parent.  We hope that our coaches and parents continue to depend on each other in making our children’s experiences in diving rewarding beyond measure.  However, it is the parent/guardian’s job to support the diver and the program – it is the coach’s job to coach.

Our coaches’ greatest satisfaction comes from being in the successful service of young people. If we are going to make our world more beautiful than it is, we need to encourage our young people to strive for greatness and to redefine their limits.  Our coaches expect IISD athletes to put their best effort on the line during practices and especially during meets to reach their performance goals.  In expecting so much, IISD coaches must make earnest attempts to elevate the quality of workouts and meet performances.  Because of the sincere efforts of our coaches in a sometimes thankless and underpaid profession, a simple “thank you, coach” goes a long way in refueling our coaching staff’s spirit.  Please remind your diver to thank the coach, occasionally, for anything that has benefited them in the program.  Such simple words aren’t spoken enough, and they mean so much to our coaches. 

We have put together a collection of philosophies and practices for parents that have proven, over the years, to foster healthy and happy divers.  From accepted works of sports psychologists and expert diving coaches, we share this information as a guide to parents who wish to help their young athletes enjoy a successful career in diving. 

Please Follow Team Rules of Practice Behavior:

Rule #1: Parents Are Not Permitted on Deck.”

During diving practices, parents may sit in the bleacher area and watch the lesson.  USA Diving requires that only registered coaches, athletes, and officials are permitted on deck during practices or meets.  Because of the nature of our litigious society and the liability concerns of the school systems that we serve, we need to strictly adhere to this rule.  Please enter the pool through the main pool doors, (not the locker room doors) and remain in the bleacher area during practices.  Should parents need to use the restrooms, they can usually enter the locker rooms though the rear, hallway entrances so that they needn’t come down on deck.  In some pools, the rear entrance is locked for security reasons and it may be ok to come down on deck to use the facilities, but parents are to in no way disrupt the training of their child or any other children when doing so.  If parents need to speak to a coach, they may call to make an appointment with the coach at an arranged time. 

Rule #2: “Please, No Distractions.”

During diving practices, our coaching staff incorporates structured lesson plans that will lead directly to the athletes’ development and success.  Running an effective and efficient workout is what we are paid to do and our coaching staff will ensure that the athletes stay on task.  Lessons shall run the entire practice time with few exceptions and, in our pursuit of success, we will systematically avoid distractions whenever possible.  We ask that parents do not interrupt workouts, except in the case of an emergency

Rule #3: “Parents Are to Avoid Communication with the Divers During Practice.” 

Our coaching staff works to create an atmosphere of positive experiences through hard work and focus.  We use the tools of group dynamics to create and motivate our team and to encourage our team members to push their own limits.  In order to develop a “team” atmosphere, athletes need to be tuned in to the workout in progress and tuned out to communicating with their parents between dives or exercises. 

Rule #4: “Please make it a point to not attend some practices.” 

We greatly appreciate the fact that parents wish to come in and support their children’s activities.  It is still more impressive that parents are willing to take time out of their days to “be there” for their kids.  However, in any sport psychology texts, one can find the important term, “intrinsic motivation.”  This concept describes a motivation that comes from within the individual athlete, not from any external source.  Intrinsic motivation is the thing inside most successful athletes that gets them to an acceptable level of performance arousal on their own – from within.  The ability to motivate from within is an essential element that must be developed in our athletes at a young age.  Without the parent at practice, students may at first be less focused, but they soon learn to stay on task out of intrinsic motivation. 


We accept the role of coaching the athletes and safely bringing them through the progressions that shall lead to competitive diving.  In accepting the role of coach, we ask for support from our parents in helping the athletes succeed.  We involve our parents in, running diving meets, transporting athletes to practices and meets, running club activities, etc.  This shall be the parent’s role for which our coaches are very grateful, and your children will someday appreciate.  However, in efforts to help, we ask that parents do not cross that line into actually coaching the divers.  This raises many issues of concern and we will share some of them here. When parents cross the line and begin coaching the athletes,

  1. …the children are often put in the unfortunate position of having to choose who to listen to – their parents or the coach.  Because our coaching staff never wishes to engage in a power struggle between the parents and the coaches, as this would go against the natural benefits of sports in general, we wish to avoid this potential conflict.
  1. …an imbalance in the corrective feedback system occurs.  Athletes can only take so much constructive criticism at a time, and coaches dish out an awful lot of this in the hours we see the athletes each practice.  If our athletes are then told how to improve their dives by their parents at the pool, in the car on the ride home, at the dinner table, at the breakfast table, etc., the athlete will suffer from what is known and clearly understood in professional coaching circles as “over-coaching.” Over-coaching produces performance digression and athlete burnout – it dulls the athlete’s ability to respond to instruction during practice and meet situations. 
  1. …athletes may become injured.  Our coaching staff is composed of safety-certified professionals in the science of coaching diving.  Through our study of the physical principles of the sport, we have gained a keen insight into what motions may potentially lead to injury and what motions are safe.  Parent coaching tips may put the athletes in danger of coming in contact with the board or water incorrectly, causing injury.
  1. …we lose some of that vital connection between the athlete and coach that is a key ingredient to producing successful athletes.  In a sport so often associated with the conquering of fear, we rely on a strong relationship of trust between the athlete and the coach.  The best diving coaches in the world form a very trusting relationship with their athletes.  Likewise, some of the best divers in the world would attempt to run through a “brick wall” if their coach told them they should do it.  In earning an effective level of trust, the coach cannot be undermined by the coaching influences of diving parents.

Any attempts to directly or indirectly coach an Indiana International School of Diving athlete by the parent in any setting is in direct violation of one of our most clear-cut and important club rules.  Coaches that witness parents coaching their children or other children on the team are required to immediately ask the parent to stop doing so.  This may involve the coach stopping the diving practice to let the parent know that such behavior is unacceptable.  If the parent were to then continue coaching at this time or at a later date, the parent responsible will be asked by the coach to leave the premises during diving practice for a period of time as determined by that coach’s discretion.  This club rule is not negotiable.  If you have any concerns about this or our other parent pool rules, please contact Sean McCarthy to arrange an appointment, [email protected].  Thank you.

Rule #6: Proper Communication with the Coach

As a parent you may find it difficult to approach a coach with a question.  Practices are busy and, if they are doing their job, our coaches are usually not available for conversation.  However, we believe you should freely discuss any issue with the coach when the circumstances allow. 

  • Call the coach to ask a question or you may set up an appointment with the coach.  The phone is an expedient link to addressing an issue you wish to discuss.  Most of our coaches are available via e-mail as well. 
  • Please avoid striking up a conversation with the coach during practice hours or during a diving event.  These are the least likely times that the coach can give you your due attention. 
  • If you have a problem with something within our club operations, please take the initiative to share your concerns with the coach.  The coach is concerned with the best interests of the team and shares a perspective for the long-term interests of the program. 
  • There will be misunderstandings and problems occasionally.  Our parents and coaches need to work together and be problem solvers.  After all, this is what we expect of our young athletes – to be problem solvers every day. 
  • Any misunderstanding or problem should be addressed early on before it turns into a more serious problem. 
  • Please communicate with the coach before making any abrupt moves with respect to your athlete’s training. 

Other Parent Guidelines – These are some other guidelines that you can follow to greatly improve your child’s performance and development:

  • Try to make sure your diver is at practice on time and ready to dive.  Car pools are usually the best solution to transportation woes.  However, try not to have your diver arrive more than ten minutes prior to the start of practice without your direct supervision.
  • Encourage your child without pressuring them.  Interest and enthusiasm go a long way in improving performance.
  • Do not criticize coaches, officials, other divers, or other diving parents in front of your child.  Save that for arranged meetings with the parties involved. 
  • Please help out with the many activities that make this team special for our athletes.
  • Do not fall prey to the “comparing game:” when, in an effort to motivate, a parent constantly compares the improvements of their child to the improvements of another.  This is a Coaching 101 “no, no.”  Children are naturally very driven by group dynamics and peer support; however, no person can control how well or poorly another person is doing in lessons.  Comparison like this can only produce anxiety without solution.  Divers can control how well they are doing compared to how well they can do, and the coach is generally a pretty sharp judge on how well the athlete can do from day to day.  As in life, divers need to find our own rate of improvement that works most efficiently for them. 
  • Do let your child know that you love and support them if a practice or meet goes well, and that you love and support them the same if a practice or meet does not go well – unconditional love and support is paramount to being a good athletic parent.
  • Please try to avoid negative gossip about the coach or club, this does not place the club representatives or athletes in a positive light.  With so many working to better the performances of the athletes, we require that concerns and issues be addressed professionally at scheduled appointments with our staff as needed. 
  • Please avoid voicing any club service concerns to your child.  Your words will greatly influence your child’s attitude and thoughts.  If a child feels they are being treated unfairly by the coach, this will reduce their initiative and the belief that they are in control of their development within the training environment.  If such a condition has been reinforced by the parent, this may become a problem that the coach is powerless to undo.  Instead, arrange a meeting with the coach to discuss grievances so that some positive results may follow.