I have been thinking recently about the reasons why more kids should compete, and the benefits that are associated with competition.
I will leave a link to the best article I found below but the top 3 reasons that I found while doing some research are as follows:
1. Having an important deadline makes us work harder.
Think back to school when you had a paper due the next day. You go into workhorse mode and get the paper done in time. I believe the same mechanisms are at play in athletics and I have noticed them first hand both when I was a diver and as a coach. When people know that they have an important deadline to hit they will try their hardest to get things ready time. If you are wondering how this applies to springboard diving I'll tell you.
Let's say a diver has a goal to compete a 303C (reverse 1.5 somersaults tuck) in the next competition for a higher score than the 302C that they were previously competing. It goes without even saying that the diver will need to begin working on this dive more and more in order to successfully achieve the goal. As a college coach, some of my favorite days to coach are the days leading up to a big meet because there is a different energy in the atmosphere. It is as if the divers can feel the impending battle coming and they really bring their best.
Having internal motivation for wanting to achieve a goal will cause all of us to work much harder and push ourselves further than anyone else could.
2. Teaches us how to perform under pressure.
Like anything in life, the more you practice the comfortable you become and the better you get. Do you ever wonder how Olympians even young ones tend to perform so well on such a big stage? It is no secret. They have been doing it for years. I was recently doing some research on dive lists and I came across US Olympic Diving Medalist Kristian Ipsen. What is amazing is that he crushed his competition at the last US Olympic Trials securing a spot at the summer games in Rio this past year. Here is a video of his final dive that sealed the deal.
Now while watching that incredible performance it is easy to say wow I could never do that period, let alone under all that pressure! But the thing is according to my research, Kristian has been competing that same dive, 307C FOR 8 YEARS! Not to mention he has also probably competed at this very pool numerous times throughout his college career. In addition to that, he has been consistently competing since 1998. When you take all of this preparation into account it demystifies Ipsen's immense success.
The takeaway here for divers just getting started is that the more you practice and compete the higher the level of success you will achieve. So if you are just diving at a country club pool right now I encourage you to join a summer league team. If you are only diving as part of a high school team I encourage you to join a club or start trying to dive more throughout the year. You can't dive 3 months out of the year and take 9 months off and expect to get better. Finally, if you are diving year round I encourage you to participate in regular competitions similar to what Kristian Ipsen did. That way when you have that big dive on the line that will take you to your goal whether it be a summer league championship, making high school states, or Olympic Trials you will be better prepared to execute.
3. Competition is a blast and allows children to travel and experience.
Some of my favorite memories are of me, my teammates, athletes I coach, and parents, hanging out in the hotel lobby talking about the competition or congratulating each other on the hard work we had put in and how we were seeing results. Some of the best experiences we have in life are deeply connecting with people and while you don't necessarily need a meet to do this I have found that when people come together to achieve a common goal that this space is where real friendships, camaraderie, and trust are built.
As far as traveling in the past year alone I have been to some incredible places, San Diego California, Fort Pierce Florida, Niagara Falls New York, and many other places sprinkled across the northeast.
With every new place comes new experiences, new people and opportunities for my athletes and I to learn, grow, and help make the atmosphere we live in a more positive place.
If this post has inspired you the next Full Out Dive Club AAU competition will be February 11th at Suny Geneseo. More information is available HERE!