3 Ways to Get Over that One Dive

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Segodnya

By Shelby Iava, Swimming World College Intern 

There’s always going to be that one dive that you’re terrified of. The one dive you never want to do, but always need to do. For me, no matter what, the reverse category has always made my heart skip just a little bit. It’ll be my seventh year of diving this upcoming fall and the reverse category still freaks me out. Maybe that’s just not my thing, but I still have to compete reverses at least once on both one meter and three meter every single meet.

1. Music to Inspire


Photo Courtesy: Brett Levin

Instead of letting the fear completely take over and fill my head with thoughts of doubt and disbelief, I try to either put music on during practice or just try to think of one in my head. During dive practices my teammates and I usually listen to “Rock Pre-Game Radio” on Pandora. It’s the station that pumps us up and makes us feel like we can do almost everything (even those scary dives). Music helps divers not to think too much. When you overthink, you make the dive more complicated than it actually is. Imagine doing it once in your head and then just go for it.

2. Don’t Stop Walking

KNOXVILLE, TN - August 17, 2014: Mackenzie Willborn during the 2014 USA Senior Diving National Event Finals at Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Matthew S. DeMaria

Photo Courtesy: Matthew S. DeMaria

As soon as you take your first step into your approach, do not stop! The moment you stop (or balk), is when it starts to fall apart. In that moment doubt starts to take over and that’s when the struggle begins. Each time you walk back to the beginning of the board, you start to beat yourself up and it just gets harder and harder. Eventually you just get frustrated and have to jump off. Even after you jump off and the next rotation of divers go, you can’t get discouraged. Take a deep breath. Believe in your training. And just do it.

3. Ask Yourself ‘What’s the Worst that Could Happen?’

red-bull-cliff-diving-world-series (9)

Photo Courtesy: Dean Treml/Red Bull Cliff Diving

I mean really what’s the worst that can happen? You smack some water, right? Even though it doesn’t sound that bad, we all know it’s still going to hurt. Divers all have battle wounds from the sports we do; it’s part of the experience. Every diver has their horror stories of hitting the water wrong or just right.

My freshman year of college I smacked my head so hard on the water from the three meter board that I gave myself a concussion. I was out of my very first collegiate swim meet and it was one of the worst feelings in the world. We all know it sucks to be sitting on the sidelines (or pool deck in this case), but it sometimes happens.

Extinguish the fear of hurting yourself or thinking you can’t do it– just try it once. Who knows, today could be the day you do a brand new dive or even an old dive that just scares you and nail it. You’ll never know until you try.


  1. avatar
    Garry Smith

    That is correct on all counts. Nice to hear it coming from someone who learned the hard way. Well done!

  2. avatar

    The best way to get “over” it is to consistantly practice it. Your coach won’t let you do the dive unless they are confident you are prepared. Trust your coach – and focus on the fundamentals.

    Music? In college we used to reserve the last 30 minutes of practice to work on – or premiere new dives. The swimmers used to come around to watch – as there was always the potential for smacks. They would crank up Talking Heads “Psycho Killer” on the PA system and we would all get pumped up for the new dives.

    Nice article!

  3. avatar
    Mike W

    Asking the worst that could happen? The worst that could happen is hitting a cement platform with your head, and ending up paralyzed or dead. Probably not the best advice for a diver 🙂

  4. avatar
    Krista Klein

    I ask the divers to think of how great it will feel after they do the dive. If they tell me the “bad” things that might happen, I try to redirect them to think of all of the good things that might happen.