How to Teach Diving with Hollie Field 

Illustration from Ruben Guzman’s Swim Drill Book

Is there anything you can’t teach online? I used to think many of the practical things needed to talk in person: dance, woodwork, public speaking, massage, but it seems there’s nothing that can’t work with a video call, slides and a video. Over a decade ago I completed an ASA course, ‘in person/in trunks’ course on diving – not only was it face to face, but it took the best part of the day, required a drive of over 100 miles, and had us all in swimming cossies by the side of the pool jumping in, diving and doing somersaults. You’d think that would have been enough for a lifetime – but I like a refresher, and like butterfly and breaststroke there are always new ways to fix old problems. Even with swimmers who have come through our Academy and are ‘learning to train’ I have those who lift their head, dive too deep or bring their legs in behind them. I needed this and it was really helpful and rather fun, Hollie Field is a class act – she knows her stuff, has a cracking sense of humour and is a great teacher (teacher qualified too, she works at a secondary school). 

Rather than featuring Hollie’s slides (her copyright), I have picked some examples from two great books: Ruben Guzman’s Swim Drill Book and a long out of publication ASA pocket book ‘Know the Game: Swimming’.

Here’s how to get in touch if you’d like to book a course with Hollie:

LilliePad Aquatics

25 Casswell Crescent, Fulstow, Lincs, LN11 0XJ

07719 547851 

F: LilliePad Aquatics

I: @Lilliepadaquatics

T: @Hollie96371326

We were online a little before 9:30am and ready to go. Zoom. We were scheduled to go on until 1:30pm but were able to finish at 1:00pm, Hollie explained that she built in extra time for a larger group, overruns in demonstrations and questions … and any other hiatus that can occur when teaching online, such as losing a signal (teacher or attendee). 

We’d be looking at Swim England Swim Stages 1-7

The Level II Swim England book was suggested as a reference, as were:

Swim England Awards

Swim England Toolkit

The four attendees talked about their own route into swimming and swim teaching and shared their objectives for this course. My goals were a ‘refresher on the required steps to get young swimmers diving competently with confidence – with an eye to competitive swimming and  fixing once and for all, perennial problems: lifting their head, bending the knees and making an almighty splash, letting their arms spread, losing their goggles … 

Teachers must have a coaching qualification to teach off the block. This rather suggests that teachers should only teach diving from the side. There is nothing wrong with this … we are advancing swimmers too quickly. They need to be able to push and glide well before they can dive, and when they do dive for the first time they should begin with a sitting dive. 

The Learning Objectives 

  • To understand the safety aspects when teaching diving
  • To know the progressive practices for diving
  • To understand the faults and causes and how to correct them
  • To be able to apply the above in your lessons

Health and Safety Considerations considered depth of water, forward clearance and ‘freedboard’ (the height from the water’s edge. 

  • Toes must be over the edge of the poolside (so they don’t slip)
  • We only teach diving from the stationary position.
  • The water ahead needs to be clear of swimmers.

In ‘break out rooms’ we considered the value and need for swim hats and goggles. 

Earliest learners do not wear goggles, the thinking being that if you are teaching water safety and competence as much as anything else, you don’t have time to put your goggles on should you slip and fall in the water.

We discussed ways to organise swimmers, as most swimmers in their early stages are swimming widths, not in lanes – and how they should set off, in canon or waves. 

Back in break-out rooms and then together we discussed the prerequisites to diving – the skills/confidence swimmers need to have. Some, though not all would be relevant to MSM swimmers and included:

Head under water:

  • Blowing bubbles
  • Controlling your breathing
  • Building confidence
  • Being comfortable under the water … and at different depths, as they can’t dive unless they go into the deep end
  • Pushing off the bottom of the pool ‘like a rocket’
  • Push and glide in a tight streamlined position on front and back 

Jumping in from the side:

  • Different jumps off the side
  • Tuck jump
  • Pencil jump
  • Star jump
  • NOT twist jumps for health and safety reasons
  • Three jumps: standing leap, pencil jump (into deep water), 360 twist.

And activities that get the hips higher than the head:

  • Somersault
  • Handstand
  • Somersaults
  • Surface dives

Other activities included:

  • Bounce up the pool (in streamlined position)
  • Jumping through noodles
  • Swimming through hoops
  • And any similar challenge to take their mind off their nerves.

In addition:

  • Floating
  • Tuck Float (mushroom/canon ball)
  • Look for each other, thumbs up.

The Swim England stages are:

  • Introduce
  • Develop
  • Master

Headfirst Dives

  • Sitting
  • Kneeling
  • Crouching
  • Standing Dive (Lunge)
  • Standing Dive (Plunge)

Teaching points:

Demonstrate from the side

Or sit on a chair – anything to demonstrate it.

Then consider:

  • Stance
  • Flight
  • Entry
  • Transition

One hand is on top of the other.

Wrap the thumb around

Commands might include:

“Keep looking down, or you’re going to get a pink face and a pink chest”

“We want our legs to be together”

Give them a point where you want them to enter, such as “Aim for the upside-down T”

“Chin on the chest, squeeze your ears”.


Always have a noodle to hand.

Vs Doing a ‘dropper’ (just falling in). This is because they are not comfortable about going in headfirst. They must lean forwards.

Have or create visual aid. Use photos or videos. 

Sitting Dive

Things they must remember:

  • One hand on top
  • Arms in streamlined position
  • Chin on the chest
  • Eyeline looking down
  • Arms parallel with the water

Kneeling Dive

  • Good to start from deck level
  • Underrated
  • Push with the back leg
  • Taken up by the forward leg
  • Split leg mid-flight
  • MUST push with your legs
  • Aim over the upside-down T (REPEAT OFTEN)
  • Remind them ‘EYES DOWN” or their chin will be off the chest

Crouching Dive

  • Bend the knees
  • Arms parallel to the water NOT aimed at where they are going
  • Eyes Down
  • Hips still need to be above the knees
  • Lean forward and knock ourselves off balance
  • “Push when I say push. With the last little umph with the legs.
  • Eyes down
  • Aim passed the upside-down T
  • Nice and straight body
  • If they go in with bent legs, they are holding back

TIP: Loads and loads of praise. Kids love it. You’re not being patronising.

Plunge Diver or ‘Full Standing’

  • As crouch, but slight bend of the knees
  • High hips
  • Good for transition into a racing start with hands to the feet
  • “The higher the hips, the more umph you’re going to get out of the block”.
  • You keep those listening ears going.
  • Build up good relationships so that they can trust you.
  • Don’t force them into anything.

Faults, Causes and Corrective Practices

Faults discussed and our collective answers:

Diving too deep: not reaching forward, associated with picking up sticks. They’ve not got the angle of entry right.  Want hands level and parallel to the water. Pushed at the wrong time and the legs flip over. Hands not entering where you want them. Are they bending their wrists or separating their arms? Have a point they are aiming for. Make sure they have the stance right. Emphasise the teaching point.

Hands Coming Apart: They’ve not got their hands together in a locked position. They very quickly drop their hands and go in headfirst. Set up the streamlined. Going floppy when they enter the water. Because they want to get up quickly or stay on the surface. Get them on the side of the pool. Take them back a step. Push and glide through hoops if they are splitting their hands.  “Straight as an arrow, straight as a pencil”.

Falling in: Anticipating, excited, in a hurry. Not concentrating. Not ready. There’s no push whatsoever. ‘Ploppers’ … Correction: push and glide, surface dive, feet first to get them to jump … how high you can get in the air. Saying “kick like a donkey”, rocket, challenge of streamlined bounce up the pool – try to reach the 5m flags. Have someone demonstrate. Put the noodles in.

Diving to the side: Can veer off to one side or the other, stance wrong, or favouring one side or the other when pushing off.  With the tiny/smaller kids. The kids aren’t balanced. Not holding the tight position. Get them to follow the blue line straight up the middle.

Surfacing too early: Pulling hands apart, kicking up to the surface as soon as possible, water in their goggles, hands are raised as they dive in – they need to be straight, the pitch correct.  Not confident. Do things to get them confident. Take them back to progressive practices.

Chest entering first: Head up, chin up …  (their trunks are not done up). Used to be ‘a pound coin’ on your chest … but could hurt their throat, rather, you must hold onto a £5 until you enter the water. Remind them to focus their eyes. Are you squeezing their ears?


  • Haven’t been taught well
  • Lack of confidence … got a fright in the past
  • Lack of opportunity

Corrective Practice

  • Take them back to the progressive practices 
  • Build up the progression
  • Reiterate the instructions

TIP: Lay a noodle on the water to dive over. “Dive over that”.


  • A diving challenge. How far can they get and use a marker at the side of the pool.

How to put all of this into a lesson

Prerequisites: they are comfortable under the water. Introduce it as a contrasting activity

As a contrasting activity with butterfly – as the arms with fly quickly start to struggle.

Takeaways (for me).

  • Importance of arms parallel to the water
  • Repeating instructions through their dive likes “eyes down” and “push”

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