Increasing the dive-length of swimmers through personalised targets

Massimo Grassi, Jacqueline Di Giano and Angelica Moè

Department of General Psychology University of Padova, Italy


Grassi, M., Di Giano, J., Moè, A. (2016). Increasing the dive-length of swimmers through personalised targets. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 47(2), 155-164. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2016.47.155


In swimming races, a key component for a good start dive is the dive-length. Swimmers trying to improve dive-length need to make specific reference points in order to evaluate it and to understand where to aim for in order to improve it. Often coaches suggest pointing at available landmarks of the swimming pool such as the backstroke indicator, i.e., five meters from the starting wall. However, this distance is unreachable (i.e., unaffordable) for the majority of swimmers and therefore may frustrate the need of achievement of the swimmer. Here, we hypothesized that a personalised target placed just ahead of the impact point of the swimmer with the water (i.e., a difficult but not impossible target) would be effective in lengthening the dive. Eighteen amateur swimmers performed two pre-training dives. They were divided into three groups and asked to perform ten training dives with either the personalised target, a target appended at the backstroke indicator or no target. The training was followed by one post-training dive performed without the target in order to evaluate any improvements made. Results indicated that the personalisedtarget group had the greatest improvement, proposing a method for improving divelength and stressing the importance of affordances and motivational factors when training swimmers.

Keywords: Affordance, Attention, Dive-length, Goal setting, Need of Achievement, Swimming, Training