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The Globe and Mail

Canadian diving coach has own take on stress management

The Cleveland Indians take the field during workouts in preparation for Thursday's opening day Major League Baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.

Amy Sancetta/AP

It's among the last objects you expect to see on an Olympic pool deck: a regulation baseball.

In this case, it has been rubbed shiny, almost opalescent, by its owner, Canadian diving coach Cesar Henderson.

Much is written and said about the stresses athletes have to deal with at a Summer Games, but for every athlete there is usually a coach, and often more.

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Most of the Canadian coaches and assorted support staff – massage therapists, sports psychologists and the like – are living chock-a-block in a building in the Olympic village, so it's easy to see how they might get caught up in all the hype.

Which brings us back to Henderson's baseball, which he carries with him everywhere during competitions.

"I'm from the Dominican Republic, so I use this for stress, for tension," Henderson, who coaches three-metre springboard diver Jennifer Abel, said when asked about it earlier this week.

He lobs it into the air, bounces if off walls, rolls it on floors, flips it from hand to hand – in moments of particular stress he squeezes it.

"In the [10-metre] tower diving, they take a long time, so I have nothing do," he said. "In the springboard they go fast but in the tower they take three minutes to dive and I think 'What do I do?' "

Like everyone else in the Canadian team, he does what he has to.

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