A Pro Cliff Diver’s Guide to Jumping Into the Pool

On the finer points of cannonballs, jackknifes and belly flops

May 26, 2017 9:00 am

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Just as there are rules surrounding pool safety — no running, no peeing, no entering without showering — so too are there rules regulating how a man should enter the water.

And who better to dictate them than Red Bull Cliff Diver David Colturi.

As always, he preaches safety first: “Just make sure where you’re jumping is where you really want to jump,” Colturi says. And you obviously want to avoid drinking and diving: “Keep the right mindset: safe zone and deep water.”

Truth. But what of impressing friends and strangers with a high-quality entrance?

“It’s all about style,” he says. “Make it personal. Mix it up. Go for height, distance, rotation and personal flare. People love a big kaboom.”

So we asked him for a few pointers on the various jumps, dives and plummets a man can make from the pooldeck.

The Cliff Jump
Feel free to dive head-first up to 30 feet. Just make sure you stay tight. No loose limbs by the body. Past 30 feet, go feet first. Same rules: get tight before you hit the water. Arms at your sides, toes pointed.

The Pool Dive
Know how to use the springboard. Best way: wait for the board to come back up before you jump. It goes down slow, up fast. You want to jump just as the board reaches its highest point to get max lift. If you’re going straight off the pooldeck? Get a good jump, sell the air and go for style.

The Flip
The biggest mistake beginners make is not using their hands, according to Colturi. Try to use your arms to create rotation. Go up over the top and out, and create the somersault with your arms. Don’t whip the body. Extended your hands and arms with straight elbows, and then throw with the arms at the top of your jump. That will create the rotation.

The Twist
Same technique as the flip: Use your arms. Imagine how a figure skater does it. Throw your hands out away from your body at the launch point and then pull them in tight for a squeeze. “A good twist is tight and close. It’ll help you spin fast.”

The Cannonball
Ball up and go for height, distance, rotation and personal flare.

The Jackknife (aka can-opener)
This is the easiest way to create a big splash: one leg tucked, one leg straight and parallel with the surface of the water. Go for rotation. Leaning into the impact, like you’re falling backwards into a bean-bag chair: you want your feet, butt and shoulders to connect with the water at the same time.

The Belly Flop
“I err on the side belly flop,” Colturi. “If you can do a flip and land on your face people love it. If you can make it look like a fail, it looks cool. If you’re five feet above the water, it’s going to hurt for bit, but if it’s good, it can be worth it. Start small. Jump off the wall and see how much pain you can handle. Then swing for the fences and get some glory. When you take off, do something stylish. Like the fish-out-of-water baitfish style: start stiff as a board, arms by your side and then spread the arms and face plant. There’s also the Cleo or the ‘Hey ladies,’ with one arm behind the head and blowing a kiss.”

Augmentations and variations:

  • The three quarter flip: Cut the rotation in the middle and land flat.
  • The Running Man: Go full sprint and then do the Moonwalk or Running Man in mid-air.
  • The MJ Nut Grab: Feet wider than shoulders, then turn it into a belly flop.

And always remember: “A little pain is good for the glory.”

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