How to Do a Forward Dive Pike

A staple in the sport of diving is the forward dive pike — commonly referred to as a jackknife. This dive is often shown on old movie clips and on TV commercials. It is a beautiful dive when executed correctly; one that shows grace and personality in the air.

Learning this dive is fairly easy, and is a great way to practice control off the board and entry into the water. Below are three steps that will teach you the fundamental skills you need to perform a jackknife off the springboards.

Safety First

Before you try any dive off the diving boards, always make sure you have a coach or a parent available to watch you perform the dive. If you are diving at a recreation program, make sure a lifeguard is available on the pool deck.

Do not perform this dive from a diving board in a back yard pool if the pool is not at least 10 feet deep. Performing in water that is any shallower can pose a safety hazard.

1. Hurdle

After you have stretched and warmed up, you are ready to make your first attempt. All forward dives begin with a hurdle. This fundamental component is essential in executing the dive properly. Take a look at our guide “The Fundamentals of Diving” to get a better understanding of this move.

The forward hurdle begins with three to five steps down the board followed by a one-legged jump.

Here is how to do it:

  • Take three to five steps. On the last step, lunge and jump into the air.
  • On your lunge, swing your arms slightly behind you.
  • As you jump into the air, swing your arms above your head.
  • When your toes make contact with the board, continue your arm circle behind your body.

Before you are set to leave the board, your arms should be above your head. Your legs should be bent at the knees, and your head vertical with eyes focused out in front of you.

Hot Tip: Standing Dive

Before you try this dive with a hurdle, try it from a standing position off the 1-meter springboard. Stand at the tip of the diving board with your body facing the water. Keep your arms above your head, jump up and away from the board, and focus on getting your hips up above your shoulders. This standing dive will not only give you confidence, but will also teach control in the air and off the board.

2. Takeoff

When your arms are above your head, you are ready to start the takeoff. With your body at the end of the springboard, plan to jump into the air:

  • Keep your head straight and focus on a point out in front of you.
  • Jump up and slightly out away from the diving board. Focus on getting your hips up above your shoulders when you are in the air.
  • After your jump, while your hips are still rising to the top of the dive, reach with your arms down to your toes. You can also reach your arms to the sides of your body forming a T-position with your arms. This is called an open pike.
  • Keep your legs tight, with your toes pointed.
  • At the top of the dive, you should be in a pike position.

Hot Tip: Head Position

Do not throw your head down when you initiate this dive. This often happens without you even realizing it. The improper head position will cause the dive to over-rotate, as well as cut off height from the dive. Concentrate on focusing on a spot out in front of you. Jump your hips above your shoulders, and try to get your body into an upside down V-position.

3. Entry

Once you are in the pike, it is time to come out of the position and dive into the water. Here is how:

  • While in the pike, take a look at a spot in the water that is slightly below and in front of you.
  • Reach your arms to the sides of your body into a T-position (unless you are in an open pike and your arms are already in that position).
  • Unfold your body into a handstand posture with your legs reaching up to the sky and your head towards the water.
  • Grab your hands (flat-hand grab), tighten your stomach, squeeze your arms, and enter the water.

Upon entry, you can choose to dive straight down into the water or execute an underwater save. For more information on this, see our guide, “How to Do an Underwater Save.”

Graceful Movement

All sections of this dive, from the hurdle, to the takeoff, to the entry, should flow smoothly. In order to gain a smooth flow of movement, you will need consistent practice off both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards. If you practice regularly and remember the tips above, you’ll soon be performing this dive with grace and beauty!

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