How to Do a Jackknife Dive

By Beth Rifkin

A progression of the traditional straight dive, the jackknife, which is also called a forward dive pike, is a graceful maneuver that requires control of the diving board and a smooth entry into the water. While in mid-air, your body bends at the hips and closes like a jackknife, with your torso facing the front of your thighs and your hands reaching toward your toes. As you head toward the pool, your body opens and elongates as you enter the water in a straight dive position, the less splashing, the better.

Step 1

Warm up by swimming laps at a moderate pace for five to 10 minutes. Practice three to five straight dives to prepare for the jackknife.

Step 2

Approach the dive with a three to five step sequence, which is usually called a hurdle. Take the desired number of steps toward the end of the diving board. Lunge on the last step and jump into the air. Swing your arms above your head as you rise off of the board.

Step 3

Land at the end of the board on both feet, knees bent and eyes facing straight ahead. Propel up into the air and slightly out in front of the board. Bring your arms behind your body.

Step 4

Bend at the hips as you fold your body in half with your glutes pointing toward the sky while your chest moves as close as possible to the front of your thighs. Point your toes and keep your back and legs straight throughout the fold.

Step 5

Focus on a spot in the water that is slightly out in front of your body. Open your arms in a T-position. Unfold your body and lift your feet toward the sky, as if you are in a handstand position.

Step 6

Move your hands into a flat-hand grab; the fingers of one hand wrap around the fingers of the other hand inline with your head. Both palms should be open, flat and facing the water. Straighten your arms, elongate your legs and contract your abdominal muscles. Enter the water.

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