June 15, 2016


Ask Nikki June 15th, Afraid To Dive 2

Hi Nikki!

This summer, I’ve started doing diving lessons and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. But, there is one problem. Every time the coach tells me to do a flip or back dive, I get really scared and want to chicken out. How do I do the scary dives with confidence?



Hi Scaredy-Cat!!

I didn’t call you Scaredy-Cat because I think you’re super-brave to be doing diving at all! It’s just…SENSIBLE to be nervous about a back flip off a diving board! Shall we call you Sensible-Cat instead?

I’m no expert in diving, but I’m guessing it would help your confidence to take it in baby steps. (Or baby paddles?) Like, you wouldn’t try to back flip off the high dive before you were confident with a more basic dive. Hopefully your coach understands this and isn’t pushing you into something you’re just not ready for.

But, maybe you ARE ready for it. Like, you have the skills and enough lessons under your belt, but it’s really just a fear thing. Fear is there to keep us from doing things that would harm us, so it’s really a good thing. You wouldn’t want to have NO fear. If you didn’t know how to swim, that fear would be important to keep you from hurling yourself into deep water.

However, sometimes we have to get around that self-protective instinct. If you want to improve as a diver, you’ll have to find a way. And it sounds like you want to, so let’s see what we can come up with. Like I said, I really know nothing about diving, but here are a few ideas I had that might help:

  1. Talk to your coach. This seems obvious, but have you told your coach you’re scared? Probably every diver who’s ever come before you has gone through the same thing at some point. Maybe your coach will scoff and say, “Get over it.” But it’s more likely that your coach will have some tools to help you get over the fear.
  2. Watch diving videos. I bet if you go on YouTube you can find all sorts of diving videos to inspire you. They might be, like, gold-medal-winning Olympic dives. Or they might be really little kids doing amazing dives. Watching lots of other people doing the scary dives might also help the dives seem more normal/less threatening. It’s like, when I’m nervous on an airplane, I try to remember to watch the flight attendants. They fly EVERY DAY, so even when the plane jolts around in bad turbulence, they don’t look nervous. It’s just normal to them. Eventually, you’ll get there with diving, too.
  3. Remember to breathe. This is another one that might seem obvious, but it’s so important. When we’re anxious about something, nice deep breaths can really help. You can think about breathing IN confidence and breathing OUT worries. (Just don’t breathe IN again while you’re underwater.)
  4. When you do it once, do it again immediately. When (not if) you make a successful flip or back dive, get right back out and do it a few more times in a row, without taking time to think about it. Give your brain something to remember besides the fear, so that the next time you approach it, you remember how well you did.
What do you guys think? Have you ever had to overcome a fear? How did you do it?