How to Transition from Diver to Coach

Transitioning from diver to coach is not always easy. Your athletic accomplishments might carry you into the coaching realm, but it is important to note that there are stark differences between performing dives and coaching them. Not every great diver will make a great coach. Coaching is a special skill that requires a fundamental love for the sport, a desire to teach others, and the ability to motivate athletes.

For some, these requirements seem simple; for others, daunting. If you have thought of becoming a diving coach, but weren’t sure you have what it takes, this guide will help. It’s filled with tips on what to expect when making the transition from diver to coach.

Coaching is a Business

Unlike your diving career as an athlete, the work of a coach requires business knowledge. Simply put, you will need to make money. To do this you need to charge your students the proper fees, advertise your business, secure a workout facility, and make enough practice options available for your divers to choose from.

In addition, you need to prepare for the financial responsibility that is involved in running a team: Insurance fees, equipment maintenance, pool rental time, and a host of other financial considerations. Running a diving team is a business, and you need to approach it as such.

Work with Beginners

One trap that many divers fall into is the belief that they should start coaching elite divers immediately. But, if you are planning on transitioning from diver to coach, you should also plan on starting with beginners.

Beginning divers will teach you about your skills as a coach. They will let you know if the strategy you are using to relay information is working or not. They will give you a base to train athletes of all levels.

In addition, the foundation of a diving program (in regards to financial success) rest in its lessons program. If you can create a successful lesson program, your business of running a team will also flourish.

Hot Tip: Strive for Respect

Respect goes a long way — fear does not. If you can lead your divers by earning their respect, they will not want to disappoint you.

Prepare for Turn-over

Not everyone is going to love diving as much as you do. For some, it will merely be a chance to learn a new skill. It can be very frustrating if you expect all your divers to stay with the sport. Many will likely quit or leave. Here are some ideas of what you can do to prepare for this reality:

  1. Lessons: Schedule your lessons once or twice a week for an hour. Run the sessions on a six to eight week schedule. If parents are paying for the lessons, chances are that they’ll make sure their child attends.
  2. Advertise: Make sure you have a good advertising plan. In the long-term, the best advertising you will get is from word of mouth. However, until that time comes you should put up flyers, email your contacts, and get your name out there. This way, when students leave or move on, you will be able to replenish your group with new ones.
  3. Fun: Try to incorporate fun into your lessons. Children love to have fun. If you make diving all about rules and skill building, you will lose some children. Perhaps play a game at the end of the six week session. Maybe give the children the last 10 minutes of each practice to do what they want to. Whatever way you can think of to make the lessons fun is a great way to keep the children motivated and looking for more.

Ability to Motivate

It is important to realize that not all your students will have the same motivation you had when you were a diver. One skill a coach needs is the ability to motivate athletes individually. People are different and will thus respond to differing motivation techniques. Some will be self-driven while others will need persuasion. Learning basic human psychology can go a long way.

Amazingly True Story

Before influential American Ron O’Brien became a coach, he was a successful collegiate diver. He won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships on both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard. However, his success as a diver pales in comparison to his success as a coach. In 1963, O’Brien made the leap to coaching and never looked back. As an eight-time USA Olympic diving coach, several of his students became Olympic, World, and National champions. Among his most famous divers was four-time Olympic Gold medalist Greg Louganis.


Coaching will require a considerable amount of patience. Be prepared: It can be frustrating! Divers might use workouts as social hours. They might sit in the hot tub and stall, or balk on trying new dives you know they can do. In essence, they may drive you crazy!

As a coach, you will need to remain cool and calm, especially when you’re inclined to get frustrated. Talk to a mentor, maintain realistic objectives, and work at keeping your composure. This is an important piece of the coaching puzzle.


Just as it took diligence to become an accomplished athlete, it will take determination to become a notable coach. Knowledge, patience, and desire to motivate your athletes are important skills that will help you transition from a great diver to an even greater coach.

Share the knowledge