As the 2013 fall sports season approaches, Northville High School’s girls dive coach Jennifer Amman plans to incorporate a new form of exercise into this year’s training program.
Both divers and swimmers at NHS will be introduced to yoga this season to improve their strength and balance, as well as teach them how to deal with the nerves that are associated with these sports.
Amman said, “Being someone who found the benefits of yoga after my diving career was over due to injury, I feel that this will make a huge difference. It is not easy being the center of attention in a packed pool. They will be able to calm their breathing down and focus on what needs to be done in that moment.”
In addition to yoga, Amman has developed a rotating core program for the upcoming season, and she would also like to include weight training this year as well.
“I’m looking to expand the out-of-water training to make them stronger on the boards. Stretching and core strength are extremely important in this sport. When you are just starting out, expect to be so sore that it hurts to laugh,” Amman said.
Diving: A Tryout-Free Sport
While there aren’t any formal tryouts for diving, Amman hopes at least five new girls will join the team this season.
The first girls diving practice of the season is scheduled for Aug. 15 at 9 a.m.
“Anyone who has that daredevil spirit can come and see if diving is something that they would enjoy. There aren’t any tryouts because the diving community is a very small community. Some of my most talented kids were actually snowboarders, who had never even stepped on a board until their high school years,” Amman said.
Since many students who join the diving team do not have much previous experience, this sport involves great amounts of learning and teaching.
“We always start the season off slowly. We do a lot of jumps and voluntaries. This is a good thing for the new kids too. Sometimes it is hard to not compare themselves to the kids that have been doing this for years. I am lucky too because my kids are very helpful in motivating the new divers to push their boundaries and learn the skills,” Amman said.
Those who join the diving team quickly encounter the huge mental component of the sport.
“Every time I have to teach a kid a back dive, they think I am nuts. ‘Oh, just fall backwards and land on your head,’ I tell them. That goes against everything that you were ever taught about keeping yourself safe. Once you get past the fear, there is a huge rush of excitement, and this ‘I can do anything’ attitude follows,” Amman said.
Because there is only one NHS girls diving team, a diver must meet all of the requirements to dive at the varsity level at a meet.
“A diver must be able to complete their voluntary, easy dives in all five groups, front, back, inward, reverse, and twister, and be able to do an optional, harder dive in at least one of those directions,” said Amman.
In order to prepare for the first dive meets of the season, the team will practice five days a week, beginning with an informational meeting on Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. for anyone interested in becoming a member.
“Our first meet of the season is the Black & Orange Inter-Squad Meet at Northville High School on Aug. 27. We also have the Ann Arbor Huron Invite on Aug. 29 at Huron, followed by the first annual Girls Alumnae Meet on Aug. 31. Our first official dual meet is on Sept. 12 at Livonia Churchill, and our first home dual meet is on Sept. 28 against South Lyon,” Amman said.