Originally this article was
written in 1969 and some of the points are still pertinent
today. It was an early attempt for what has become known as
mental imagery or visualization.
Any physical action performed
by an individual seems to establish certain psycho-motor patterns
(synapses) in the brain that apparently are never forgotten.
These patterns would include both gross and fine motor skills.
The strength of these patterns depends on the re-enforcement
of them according to the law of use (Use it or lose it). Each
pattern established may be completely different from others
but are organized in the brain simulating an overlay process.
Each pattern may include
nerve impulses to various body parts for movement, which are
highly sophisticated for proper diving mechanics. They also
appear to contain various feeling sensations just as if the
individual were actually going through the motions of a dive.
When a dive requires a specific pattern for this intricate
body movement, the brain will shuffle through its files and
pull out the pattern desired (an over-simplified explanation).
If there is no such pattern, one will be developed as the
individual executes a dive or it will alter one if the actual
mechanics of that dive are similar to that of another.
These patterns or mental
images are of invaluable aid to a diver because he/she can
actually go through a complete workout without stepping on
a diving board. As a result of feeling sensations derived
from these patterns, a diver prepares physically for a dive
much the same as executing numerous dives, only to a lesser
degree. This should not be interpreted to mean that we are
substituting mental imagery for actual practice. What we are
doing is using one to compliment the other.
According to some studies
in the field of psychology, the individual is not only exercising
the mind and increasing his/her power of concentration but
they are also strengthening every portion of these patterns
thus allowing for this increase in quality concentration
and ultimately the performance.
Each diver should try to
recall the proper mechanics and all of the minute feelings
involved in executing a good dive. He/she should picture him/herself
performing the perfect dive. It would be like watching a movie
with them in the lead role, which would include all the sensations
a particular dive provides. If the mental images show that
he/she has blown the dive, the images should be repeated until
a successful attempt has been made.
What we are striving for
is not only better understanding and concentration but quality
in a diving workout. Each dive performed should be executed
as if it were the one being used in competition. In this respect
we are trying to achieve consistency of dives with the elimination
of as many mistakes (both physical and mental) as possible.
By improving the practice sessions, we can improve competitive
levels and thus improve the sport of Diving.
When discussing this topic,
we must realize that divers in the younger age groups will
have difficulty grasping these concepts because of a lack
of experience and understanding proper diving mechanics, maturity
(both physical and mental) and their limited attention span.
Even though these problems exist, we as diving coaches must
begin this educational process as soon as possible.
The information in this article
was the catalyst for some of the ideas presented on this website.
Articles such as "Diving
From The Deck", "Using The Water As A
Teaching Station", "Using Some Imagination"
and "Concept Mapping" are examples. I was
searching for ways to help divers make the appropriate
connections in various diving sequences so that they would
not only understand but be more willing to make that first
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