Guide to Diving

Types of Dives

There are six different groups of platform and springboard dives. The first four types involve rotating in different directions relative to the board and the starting position. The fifth group includes any dive with a twist. The final group, used in platform diving, begins with an armstand.

  1. Forward Group: The diver faces the front of the board and rotates towards the water. Dives in this group vary from the simple front dive to the difficult forward four and one-half somersaults.
  2. Backward Group: All the dives in the backward group begin with the diver on the end of the board with the back to the water.  The direction of rotation is away from the board.
  3. Reverse Group: These dives begin with the diver facing the front of the board (using a forward approach) and rotating towards the board.
  4. Inward Group: The diver stands on the end of the board with back to the water and rotates toward the board or opposite of the backward group's movement.
  5. Twisting Group: Any dive with a twist is included in this group.  There are four types of twisting dives: forward, backward, reverse and inward.  Because of the many possible combinations, this group includes more dives than any other.
  6. Armstand Group: In platform diving there is a sixth, unique group of dives called 'armstands'.  Here the diver assumes a handstand position on the edge of the platform before executing the dive. 

Body Positions

When each type of dive is performed, the diver utilises one or more of the four different types of body positions.

  1. Tuck: The body is bent at the waist and knees, the thighs are drawn to the chest while the heels are kept close to the buttocks.
  2. Pike: The legs are straight with the body bent at the waist.  The arm position is dictated by the particular dive being done or by the choice of the diver.
  3. Straight: This position requires that there be no bend at the waist or knees.  However, there may be an arch in the back depending on the dive.  As in the pike position the arm placement is either the diver's choice or defined by the dive done.
  4. Free: This is not an actual body position but a diver's option to use any of the other three positions or combination thereof when performing a dive which includes somersaults and twists.  However, in dives of this kind the tuck position is rarely used, while a combination of the other two positions is the most common occurrence.

Identifying a dive

Dives are described by their full name (e.g. reverse 3 1/2 somersault with 1/2 twist) or by their numerical identification (e.g. 5371D), or “dive number.”  Specific dive numbers are not random—they are created by using these guidelines:

  1. All dives are identified by three or four digits and one letter. Twisting dives utilize four numerical digits, while all other dives use three.  
  2. The first digit indicates the dive’s group: 1 = forward, 2 = back, 3 = reverse, 4 = inward, 5 = twisting, 6 = armstand.
  3. In front, back, reverse, and inward dives, a ‘1’ as the second digit indicates a flying action. A ‘0’ indicates none. In twisting and armstand dives, the second digit indicates the dive’s group (forward, back, reverse).
  4. The third digit indicates the number of half somersaults.
  5. The fourth digit, if applicable, indicates the number of half twists.
  6. The letter indicates body position: A = straight, B = pike, C = tuck, D = free.


  • 107B = Forward dive with 3 1/2 somersaults in a pike position
  • 305C = Reverse dive with 2 1/2 somersaults in a tuck position
  • 5253B = Back dive with 2 1/2 somersaults and 1 1/2 twists in a pike position


Divers are judged by a panel of seven judges who each give a score between zero and 10 points for each dive performed. The following table gives an indication of the points awarded for dives: 

  • 0  completely failed
  • ½ – 2 unsatisfactory
  • 2½ - 4½ deficient
  • 5 – 6½  satisfactory
  • 7 – 8 good
  • 8½ – 9½  very good
  • 10 excellent 

In classifying a dive into one of the judging categories, certain parts of each dive must be analysed and evaluated, and an overall award obtained.  The parts of the dive are:

  • Approach: Should be smooth but forceful, showing good form.
  • Take-off: Must show control and balance, plus the proper angle of landing and leaving for the particular dive being attempted.
  • Elevation: The amount of spring or lift a diver receives from the take-off greatly affects the appearance of the dive. Since more height means more time, a higher dive generally affords greater accuracy and smoothness of movement.
  • Execution: This is most important, for this is the dive. A judge watches for proper mechanical performance, technique, form and grace.
  • Entry: The entry into the water is very significant because it is the last thing the judge sees and the part probably remembered best. The two criteria to be evaluated here are the angle of entry which should be vertical and the amount of splash, which should be as little as possible.  Synchronised Diving The synchronised diving competition involves two competitors diving simultaneously from the springboards or platform.  The competition is judged on how they individually perform their dives and how the team synchronises their performance.

Factors to be considered by the synchronised judges include:

  • The approach;
  • The take-off, including the similarity of height;
  • The co-ordinated timing of the movements during the flight;
  • The similarity of the angles of the entries;
  • The comparative distance from the board and platform of entry;
  • The co-ordinated timing of the entries


When all seven judges in individual events have allocated a score for a dive, the two highest and two lowest scores will be eliminated and the remaining three scores totalled.  The number will be multiplied by the degree of difficulty (DD) rating assigned to the dive.  The DD is predetermined with a table range from 1.2 to 3.8 in one-tenth increments.  

A scoring example is shown below:

  • Awards:  6 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 4
  • Total: 15 (high and low scores eliminated - scores in bold counted only)
  • DD: 2.0
  • Score: 30 points  

For synchronised diving events either nine or eleven judges are appointed to give a score between zero and ten for each dive. When 9 judges are used, two judges will rate one individual diver, two other judges will rate the second individual diver and five judges will rate the synchronisation of the pair.  The high and low of the four individual scores will be eliminated, and the high and the low of the five synchronised scores will be eliminated and the remaining five scores totalled.  This is then reduced by 3/5 (0.6) in the tradition that a diver’s score comes from three judges. When 11 judges are used, three judges will rate one individual diver, three judges will rate the second individual diver and five judges will rate the synchronisation of the pair.   The high and low of each of the three individual scores will be eliminated, and the high and the low of the five synchronised scores will be eliminated, and the remaining five scores totalled.  This is then reduced by 3/5 (0.6) in the tradition that a diver’s score comes from three judges.

Live Scoring is via the Dive recorder website:

Click on Live Results, choose the event on the right - live scores via ‘Event A’, Timetable and Results of completed events


This guide of diving comes from 2 sources:

Anabelle Smith - RDC Life Member

Dual Olympian Anabelle Smith claimed Australia's fifth medal of the Rio 2016 Games in the 3m synchronised springboard event, alongside Olympic debutant Maddison Keeney. The duo finished on 299.19 points, behind Chinese gold medallists Shi Tingmao and Wu Minxia and Italy’s Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallape in silver. The pair were in fifth place heading into the last round before their fifth and final dive, a forward two and half somersault one twist pike, put them into medal contention in third. With only Canada left to dive, Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware’s final dive score of 47.28 wasn’t enough to push Keeney and Smith off the podium, with the Aussies holding on by one point.

Smith claimed bronze in the 10m synchronised event with Bree Cole at the 2010 Commonwealth Games before partnering with Sharleen Stratton in 2011. The pair won the 2012 nomination trials to secure a berth at the London Games.

Smith, who was 19 in London , and 25-year-old Stratton finished in fifth in the synchronised 3m springboard event- less than 12 points off a medal as China claimed the gold.

James Connor - RDC Life Member

At 17, James Connor was the youngest male in the Australian diving team at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Connor contested the 10m platform after finishing second to Matthew Mitcham at the Australian nomination trials. In London, Connor finished 20th in the preliminary round and narrowly missed a berth in the semi-final. James also competed in the 2016 Olympic Games, ending 15th in the Platform event.

In 2010 Connor was the youngest Australian male ever to compete in the 10m Platform at a Commonwealth Games when he finished ninth as a 15-year-old. James hopes to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Jaele Patrick - RDC Life Member

Jaele Patrick made her Olympic debut at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Competing in the 3m springboard event, Patrick was the final athlete to qualify for the semi-final after finishing 18th in the preliminaries. In the semi-final, Patrick repeated her tightrope act and qualified 11th out of the 12 athletes to make the final. She went on to finish 11th in the final with compatriot Sharleen Stratton fifth and China’s Minxia Wu claiming gold.

The dual 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist took up a sports scholarship at Texas A&M University and beat the best divers in the US College system to win the NCAA Championship before earning her spot to compete at the London Games.

Grant Nel - RDC Life Member

After diving for 19 years, South African-born Grant Nel made his Olympic debut at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre in Rio in the men’s 3 metre springboard. His selection came after a strong performance at the Australian Open Championships where he was crowned National Champion. In Rio, Nel performed strongly in the preliminary round, finishing 16th on 395.05 points, to make it through to the semi-finals where he finished 15th overall on 368.35 points.

Nel switched from gymnastics to diving when he was nine, after he broke both his hands. He then trained in the school pool in South Africa under their national coach until he moved to Australia.

Mid-way through 2015 he made the move to Adelaide to train at the South Australian Institute of Sport, with National Coach Michel Larouche, as part of his Olympic preparation.

He comes from a strong sporting family, with his mother representing South Africa in gymnastics at the World Championships.

Nel won a bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a bronze and silver at the 2014 Commwealth Games.

Grant spent 4 years at Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas on a full Diving Scholarship.

Grant retired from diving in August 2017 after a full shoulder reconstruction

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