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Steve Gladding - Nick Robinson-Baker’s coach talks competition preparation

British Diving’s Steve Gladding has helped some of the country’s top divers, such as Nick Robinson-Baker, compete at the highest level. With the British Gas Diving Championships only one week away he starts a new regular blog by sharing a coach’s view of preparing for a big competition.

I became a coach because I wanted to give back to the sport I love.  I achieved international status as an athlete and wanted to be able to pass on my knowledge to others.

As for motivation, I don’t actually believe you should have to motivate athletes. If they are not motivated to compete then they shouldn’t be there.

I retired from diving at quite an early age. I was 18 and went from a career in diving to working in computer graphics for a while.  But sitting behind a desk really wasn’t for me. I missed my sport. So I then decided to put my energy into what I loved - diving. 

As a coach you prepare athletes in many different ways. It depends on the individual. I firmly believe that everyone has their own individual needs and as a coach you need to understand and work with them.

But there are some basic principles that I follow for any event and any athlete. They firstly have to have the correct dives, so these need to be learnt and in place way before the event. We then need some volume on the dives that are going to be used.

We work closely with the support staff to ensure that all the volumes that are being set by different practitioners are not too much for the athletes. It is a fine line between high volume and overload.

Then a couple of weeks out from the event we reduce the volume and allow the athletes to taper and fine tune their skills.  Using competition simulations and run-throughs of their competition dives we are able to fine tune the skills for the event. All of these elements help them to get into the correct frame of mind for competition.

I am very excited about the competition coming up. The athletes have all been working hard and after a slow start to the season due to a number of different reasons we are now in a place where we have some good solid training under our belts. I am looking forward to seeing what they can produce.

When athletes are training and competing I am quite up beat on pool deck. I think that is important because it helps keep up morale. 

As for motivation, I don’t actually believe you should have to motivate athletes. If they are not motivated to compete then they shouldn’t be there. Sport is about achieving a dream and if you are not motivated for your own dream then find another one! 

That doesn’t mean it’s just one hard slog though. We have a fun, fresh and an enjoyable atmosphere which helps the long and potentially tedious hours pass by.

Their success keeps me motivated to get up every day and work on pool side.  It’s all about enabling others achieve their goals for me. That’s where I get my reward and what drives me. 

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