Written by Sports Performance Coach, Meg McClurg
Rhiannan Iffland is undoubtedly one of the most incredible athletes of our time. Since making her debut on the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series stage in 2016 she been crowned the winner for the last three years. Not only does this take a great deal of physical training and preparation but also a huge amount of mental training, focus, arousal regulation and confidence.
We are very lucky here at To The Edge to work with such an amazing athlete and all round great human. Rhi is an absolute legend and we love having her as part of our family. Rhi works hard, trains hard, is so incredibly humble and always makes time for the things that are important to her.
I was lucky enough to hit Rhi with a few big questions to try and get a snapshot into the organisation of her thinking about her diving and herself. 4 short questions do not begin to unravel the marvelous mind of Rhi, however it is a treat to peak inside!
This year Rhi will again be competing in the World Series and I encourage you all to get behind her with your support. You can follow along with Rhi on her instagram @rhiannan_iffland.
What is the most common reason you make a mistake during a competition?
As a competitor in my sport of diving its unfortunately very common that mistakes happen. Sometimes it becomes very difficult to control all of the overwhelming feelings that are flooding your mind and body before diving at heights of 21mt. When it comes to diving in a competition I feel that all of those feelings, combined with the pressure of knowing you’re being scored, has a big influence on the way you perform during a comp. I have done the training and the preparation for the dives so it’s already engraved in my mind what I have to do. I feel sometimes the fear of making mistakes will hold me back. For instance being scared to give too much or not enough energy. I always try to clear my mind and think of nothing before I step to platform.
What are you thinking to yourself half way through a competition that isn’t going well?
It’s very difficult knowing that I haven’t got off to good start in a competition, its frustrating and often times I find myself wishing that I could take the dive back. And its even more frustrating knowing the reality is you cant. My Coach always tells me and I always try to remind myself that it is DIVE BY DIVE. You can’t win or succeed in a competition from 1 dive. It’s not over until the end, although it’s very difficult to stop thinking in a negative way. I learnt that from one competition this year, I was 40 points behind going into the final two rounds of dives, I went home cooled down my mind and the next day I went in thinking that its not over until the end. One very smart coach (Daniel) told me once that being in that position yet knowing that your capable may have an advantage.. LESS PRESSURE. So I went on thinking in a positive way and I caught up the 40 points (which is a big margin in 2 dives.) narrowly missing the gold by 0.8 of a point. Point being that I always try and stay positive and remember that it’s not over until the final dive of the competition.
What’s the number one thing holding you back from being the best diver you can be?
FEAR is the number one thing holding me back from being the best diver I can be. Sometimes when it comes to training I avoid diving at 20mts when I have the chance because its scary and I have to push myself to climb the ladder. Learning new dives is also very difficult and challenging. Sometimes I spend days in a mental battle with myself going back and forward from the uncertainty of how the dive will feel when its brand new. If I have prepared physically it usually gives me a confidence boost to reassure my mind that I’m capable.
How do you mentally prepare for a dive?
Actually, I find it easier not to mentally prepare until I’m actually standing by the platform. When I began competing I would freak myself out by over thinking and visualising how scary it will be. When I begin diving I came up with a small routine to give myself a confidence boost. I visualise the dives and go through it in my head before I even think step on the platform. (And I always visualise it going well) how many somersaults, twists, my technique, and what I am going to see during the dive. I always take a look at the landing zone on the water (haha the sweet spot). I take 10 mental screen shots, so I’m positive when I finish my rotations twists and somersaults that’s my reference point, I look for only that spot on the water to line up the dive correctly and I already know how it visually looks.