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”

Starts and Turns (Our Grades 4,5,6,7) Amateur Swimming Association National Plan for Teaching Swimming Grades 7-10

From Swimming

Fig.1. The importance of streamlining

Grades 5,4 and 7 in that order. The first two kind of go together, but the grades 7 are well ahead with several of them turning into potential mini-squad swimmers.

A warm up 50s FC and BC with emphasis on smooth swimming. I run through in a multitude of adjectives:

  • Slinky
  • Smooth
  • Silent
I draw on drills from Ruben Guzman’s ‘The Swim Drill Book’
  • Smooth
  • Sneaky

What works wonders with the younger swimmers is to tell them that they are ‘secret agents’ on a ‘secret mission’ and have to swim in the dark without being seen or heard. The result can be highly controlled, smooth swimming – just the kind of thing you’d hope for from a squad rather than a teaching group.

I centre everything on streamlining in starts and turns so start off where I usually end with a streamlined bounce, a handstand with emphasis on long legs and pointy toes, then a cannon ball and somersault.

The sequence into the turns starts with pushing off and:

  • glide out to the flags (or beyond)
  • glide and add a few dolphin kicks
  • then glide, dolphin kick a single stroke of FC and tumble (flip)
  • then glide, dolphin kick and two strokes.
  • The something similar on the back.

Streamline bounce along the black line all the way to the deep end.

Push and glide on BC using the block

Then with a dolphin kick.

From a dive:

  • Glide
  • Glide and add the BR underwater stroke
  • the full BR transition
  • And from 10 m out all the turns.

An IM with correct turns and transition

With assessments coming up the Grade 7s did an 800m set too.

And with time spare some fun activities and efforts to fault correct.

Backstroke swim, start & turns with assessments due @ Grade 5

From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Wembley Arena. Gamemaker Training

Next week I have am OU Tutorial so need to get assessments done for those swimmers who show. Before the session Angela and I chat. She is the new Principal Teacher.Train in from Lewes as afterwards I’m heading to Wembley Arena for an Olympics Gamemaker introduction. A return ticket with a break at Haywards Heath costs £16.

M and A continue to impress but have somewhere along the line failed to crack a reasonsble efficient dive. Others lack either coordination or fitness and really require some remedial catch-up teaching sessions.

All three sessions get 50m BC, 50m FC, 50m BR and (for those who looked as if they’d make it) another 50m FC and so getting their 200m swim ticked off. Other must haves were the series of skills: sculling, somersaults and surface dives, as well as treading water. I put all of these in while pressing on the day’s theme of BC. So push and glide on the back, BC start from the shallow end and deep end using the block.

Extras included a reminder of the flutter kick and refreshing on the tumble turn for BC. Some fun too, so ‘otter’ as the forward surface dive, streamlined bounce to the deep end and rolly-polly. Fly had to be checked off too. As the dolphin kick is used in turns, starts and transitions it was easy enough to tske the next step into the fullstroke. I needed to check the grab start so did the jump sequence for some: jumping as far into the water, a ‘jump’ into a dive and the dive and glide into Fly.

All in the first group also did the diving sequence of progressions: sitting, kneeling and standing in order to try and fix the problems holding some of them bsck, namely falling into the water rather thsn diving!

I completed my assessments, spoke to the Principal Teacher and left my folder at the pool shouls anyone wish to refer to it next week.

Starts and Turns with Grade 5 swimmers (age 8 to 11)

Sleeping dolphin in captivity. A tail kick ref...

Sleeping dolphin in captivity. A tail kick reflex keeps the dolphin’s blowhole above the water if necessary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starts and Turns with Grade 5 swimmers (age 8 to 11)

Starts and turns today.

Also Half Term when typically, as today a good few may not show. Easier for me to take two groups too, both Grade 5. I was able to have five boys in one lane and five girls in the other.

A warm up of 50m FC. ‘Long legs’ was my command, with a long glide off the wall and out of the turn too. Then 50m BC.

Then into a mushroom float. Then the sequence ‘dead swimmer, straightening up into the streamlined position’ with a dolphin kick into FC and away. X25m of these starting well away from the wall on the ‘T’ at the end of the lane line , and from the Deep End under the flags.

Then a push and glide, seeing how far they can get. Adding a dolphin kick, on both front and back. Then a tumble turn, on front and back. With BC we counted the strokes from the flags to the wall, most did this in 7 strokes so knew to roll onto their front to tumble on the 6th stroke.

With breaststroke BS, I wanted a pivot turn and the correct transition, so a 3 second glide, keyhole arms and a 2 second glide, then sneak the arms up and away.

Having done all the turns I sent them to the Deep End doing a streamlined bounce the whole way.

At the Deep end they got out. To start off they did a jump from the block, legs apart, toes over the edge swinging their arms to jump as far as they can. Then I asked them to topple forwards like a tree and jump. Finally I asked them to topple and ‘jump dive’. Then, as in the shallow end a dive and glide, then a dive and glide with a dolphin kick. Afterwards a dive into BS with the transition. And from in the water a BC start.

We ended, if we handed run out of time, with somersaults, or sitting on the bottom of the pool..

I repeated this, more or less for three sessions. I only had one swimmer in the second session so he had a private lesson in effect. As he still drops his arms to his side on BS I hsd s go and tackling this in various ways, from a Woggle under the arms, to sculling and 2 kicks one arm pull

T2T3 and MINI, One hour. IM with work on turns.

T2T3 and MINI

A mixed 45 mins to 60 mins aerobic session based on IM, with  emphasis on turns.

WARM UP + fins

Mini as 75s. T2T3 as 100s.

3x 75m as 25m FC kick, 25m FC drill, 25m FC swim                          45/60

3 x 75m as 25m BC kick, 25m Bc Drill, 25m BC swim                         45/60


Emphasis on streamlined drive off the wall with extended UW phase in turns

1 x25m FC UW for as far as possible, scull to breathe.

8 x 50m in IM order as 50m of each twice: (Possibly lane clear/or as a relay so up to 2 mins rest between each)





1 x25m FC UW for as far as possible, scull to breathe.


From the blocks for a competitive  start and aim for a technically correct and competitive turn every time.

FC 4 x 100m

1 x 100m FC kick                                                                             r.10

1 x 100m FC Zip up drill                                                              r.10

1 x 100m FC arms only                                                                 r.10

1 x 100m FC swim                                                                            r.10



3 x fc

3 x bc

3 x br

3 x fly

(RELAYS IF THERE IS TIME/or 25m sprints)


100/200m as 2 x 50 or 2 x 100 as reduced stroke on FC

or Silent swimming on FC/BC

Skills and Mini, Dives into transition

Skills Group

Dives and Transition in FC and BC

Fun warm up

  • Streamline position
  • Dolphin kick/bum and tum
  • (Hot potato- team building with mini)
  • Jumping intro streamlined position
  • Running with hands in the air
  • Running using hands
  • Push and glide on front
  • Push and glide on bac

Deep End

  • Dolphin Kick by lane rope
  • Dolphin kick on back
  • Dolphin kick on front


  • Re-cap
  • Jump
  • Jump from block
  • Topple and jump
  • Topple and dive
  • Reach for the flags/whack woggle away and glide


  • Dive, glide and dolphin kick (distance challenge)
  • Back start, glide and dolphin kic
  • Break-out into FC
  • Break-out intro B
  • Turn into transition on FC and BC




T2T3 Thurs Aerobic


1 x 200 as                  100FC SMOOTH                              2.45/3.00

1 x 200 as                  100 BC SLO MO                              2.45/3.00


T3 do 100s


2 x 50                         FC DRILL Zip UP                             1.15/1.30


1 x 100                       Head Up FC + Water Polo Ball[1] 2.00/2.15


600m                                                                                                                                                                          14 MNS



2 x 100                       FC                                                       HFTP[2]


2 x 100                       No.1 FO                                             HFTP



T3 do 50s


400m                                                                                                                                                                          12 MNS

10x 50                       as FC x 5 then No. Form x 5


1 x KICK                                                                    1.15/1.30

1 x PULL                                                                    60/1.15

1 x STROKE                                                             60/1.15

1 x DRILL                                                                  60/1.15

1 x STROKE                                                             60/1.15

16 MNS

T3 do kick, pull, stroke only i.e first three of the above TWICE – 6



Dive max, break-out to half-way; half-way into wall, turn and return to half-way; half-way to the end. Climb out and repeat.

X 4, as x2 FC, x2 Choice

10 MNS



6 x 25m FC as          Hypoxic breathing every 5th,7th,9th,5th …. or 3rd, 5th,7th,5th,3rd for T3


125m                                                                                                                                                                           8 MNS


1625m                                                                                                                                                                        60 MNS


[1] As a correct Water Polo Drill = head steady, chin on water, high elbows + short reach, deeper/strong & steady leg kick. No throwing the ball!

[2] HFTP = Hold Fastest Time Possible

Competitive Start Awards

Competitive Starts:

Awarded when the swimmer has demonstrated the required competency to undertake a racing dive in shallow water (water depth range 0.9m up to 1.3m) from the side of the pool or a starting block.

Once achieved, swimmers are permitted dive in at either end of the pool – important in a relay event in competitions.

Coaches will periodically run a special coaching session at the end of which they will assess the swimmers.

This not only allows the swimmer to claim their award but also helps the Coach with team selection for galas.

No swimmer is allowed to dive into the water at the shallow end until they have been assessed by the Coach and have passed the required standard.


Mini One Hour (varied)


1 x 50 FC DRILL Zip UP 1.15/1.30

2 x 25 Head Up FC + Water Polo Ball 2.00/2.15 (Steady head, kick hard)

1 x 100 as 100 FC SMOOTH 2.30

1 x 100 as 100 BC SLO MO 2.30

300m 12 MNS


2 x 50 FC HFTP 2.00 (so lots of rest)

2 x 50 No.1 FO HFTP 2.30

200m 8 MNS

12x 50 IM Order. FLY, BK, BR, FC,

1 x KICK 1.30 1 x DRILL 1.15 1 x STROKE 1.15

20 MNS


Dive max, break-out to half-way; half-way into wall, turn and return to half-way; half-way to the end. Climb out and repeat. X 4, as x2 FC, x2 Choice

12 MNS


6 x 25m FC as Hypoxic breathing every 5th,7th,9th,5th ….

125m 8 MNS

925m 60 MNS