As part of this blog I’ll be writing about my role with British Diving. For the first post, I’m starting with a quick introduction and overview of the week’s schedule.
There are several High Performance Centres across the country, some of you may know that Tom Daley is based in Plymouth, there are also centres in Sheffield and Leeds, but I am based in Southampton. Since Pete Waterfield and Max Brick retired last season, I now work primarily with springboard diver Chris Mears. I also work with platform diver Lauren Grinstead and the Junior Elite programme.
For Chris and Lauren, the week looks like this:
Dry land sessions act as a physical and technical warm up, effectively preparing the athletes to dive whilst including specific “conditioning” and choreography which are necessary to the sport. The content of these sessions is prescribed by the dive coaches with some direction from the lead gymnastics coach for British Diving. I have minimal input to this part of the programme, however I have been consulted on several occasions with regard to the programming of plyometrics.
Dry land sessions consist of a variety of stretching, acrobatics, trampolining, dry board diving, sprung floor work, rig work, handstands, choreography and plyometrics. All of the above are designed with the artistic nature of diving in mind. These sessions vary a little in intensity but are generally considered a light stress. Dry land sessions only tend to become more intense when the lead gymnastics coach visits for a day or week. He’ll want to make the most of his time which naturally means the divers end up doing more work; this is great providing its not all the time.
From an S&C perspective, a couple of exercises may change on a monthly basis but the content and volume of these sessions remains fairly constant. Despite the large volume of trunk work and jumping activities, physiological adaptations resulting from these sessions are minimal as there is little to no overload. The main adaptations occur in the form of improved coordination and learning advanced motor skills.
Pool sessions are planned by the dive coaches. The volume of dives remains fairly constant but differs between athletes and their difficulty is periodised. For example Chris Mears completes on average 1200 to 1400 dives in a month. Lauren dives more than this whereas Pete and Max used to complete nearer 800 to 900 dives in a month.
Where dry land sessions are fairly relaxed, pool sessions are much more focussed. However not every dive is as pretty as you see in competition! It’s hard to make changes which means that athletes can hit the water at all kinds of angles, thus the risk of injury is somewhat unpredictable! Divers receive simple feedback from the technical coaches following each dive and can watch it on a large poolside monitor with a time delayed video feed. For those of you unfamiliar with the sport, here’s a video of Chris’ performance at last year’s National Cup:
To better understand the demands of your athletes, it’s always important to observe training sessions. Even more so for me as I am still relatively new to the sport of diving. That being said, I am not paid to be there all the time! I arrive early on a Friday to catch up with the physio and technical coaches, then observe the dry land and pool sessions before taking the S&C session in the afternoon. I then return to the pool in the evening to run the Junior Elite’s S&C.
S&C sessions are programmed by myself. Two of these are supervised (Tuesday and Friday) and Chris completes the Sunday session by himself. Briefly, September was used mainly as a reintroduction to resistance training, axial loading and a large amount of technical preparation. This season I have identified the hang snatch as a key lift, however neither Chris nor Lauren have previously been coached how to perform the Olympic lifts and their derivatives. This is largely due to their S&C sessions previously being held at a David Lloyds’ gym with no lifting platform. This season I have been fortunate enough to make arrangements with Southampton Solent University so that we can use their facilities.
In future I will certainly talk through the programme with more detail but here’s an example of what each session looks like at the moment:
I feel this post is long enough already but here’s some quick notes about the S&C sessions. Before starting the session, the divers complete a relatively quick mobility based warm up with some glute activation. I have cut this down somewhat from last season as the technical prep for the hang snatch now also serves as an effective method of preparing for the rest of the session.
The exercises themselves are pretty self explanatory. Above is an example of Chris’ programme, Lauren has a greater emphasis on max strength and will back squat twice a week. She also performs more specific prehab exercises for her shoulder, such as scapular setting, seated rows and external rotations.
Each session ends with a trunk circuit that aims to work across all planes and time under tension is set between 300 to 500 seconds in total depending on the week. An example of Tuesday’s trunk circuit is given below:
That’s enough for now. The next diving based post will include a needs analysis for Chris and the sport of diving.
Thanks again for reading, feedback is always welcome.