WHAT IS DIVING? – from diving.ca

Diving is an aquatic sport that debuted as an Olympic event in 1904. Today, the sport of diving is sanctioned by the International Swimming Federation (FINA), and contains a total of 8 different events at the Olympic Games:

+ women’s and men’s individual 3 meter springboard events (2);

+ women’s and men’s synchronized 3 meter springboard events (2);

+ women’s and men’s individual 10 meter platform events (2);

+ women’s and men’s synchronized 10 meter platform events (2).

The mixed 3-meter and 10-meter synchronized diving events were added to the international diving circuit in 2015. Will they ever be at the Olympics? It remains to be seen…

But rest assured that diving isn’t a sport that is only practiced at the Olympics! Different levels of lessons are offered across the country, from intro to diving for ages 5 and under, all the way up to the Masters for those 80 years and up. No matter the level or the age, it’s possible to learn and to enjoy diving.


Many terms are used in the diving world to refer to specific things. There are several terms that will allow you to better understand the sport of diving.

First, there are six different types of dives that fall into 6 different groups:

Group 1 = Front (moving forward, rotating forward)

Group 2 = Back (standing backward, rotating backward)

Group 3 = Reverse (moving forward, rotating backward)

Group 4 = Inward (standing backward, rotating forward)

Group 5 = Twisting (rotating and twisting at the same time)

Group 6 = Armstand (starting from armstand on platform only)

Then there are four positions in which the dive can be performed:

A: Straight

B: Pike

C: Tuck

D: Free (used only on twisting dives)

That’s not all! The types of dives and positions are combined so that each existing dive is identifiable. Each dive is assigned a code number of 3 to 4 numbers and a single letter:

The first digit indicates the direction of rotation or type of dive

1 = Front

2 = Back

3 = Reverse

4 = Inward

5 = Twisting

6 = Armstand

The second digit indicates the initial position of flight for groups 1 to 4

1 = Flying

2 = Not flying

The third digit indicates the number of ½ somersaults

1 = A simple dive (½ rotation)

2 = One somersault (1 full rotation)

3 = 1½ somersaults (1 full rotation + ½ a rotation)

4 = 2 somersaults (2 full rotations)


The fourth digit indicates the number of ½ twists

1 = ½ twist

2 = 1 twist

3 = 1 ½ twists

4 = 2 twists


The last character indicates the position

A: Straight

B: Pike

C: Tuck

D: Free



Once you’re able to identify them, it’s important to know that each dive also has its degree of difficulty (DD). The DD varies according to the level of difficulty of the dive and the height at which it is executed. Currently on the circuit, the dives that have the highest DD are the 109B (4½ front pike), the 5257B (2½ back with 3½ twists) and the 409C (4½ inward tuck) on the 10 meter platform with a DD of 4.1.

Other terms you may hear if you watch competitions or take part in diving sessions…

+ A “rip” entry = is a “splash-less” entry into the water, every diver strives to execute this properly

+ A “vertical” entry = is the desired position of the body, perfectly perpendicular to the surface of the water (the vertical water entry). It can also indicate the direction of the body when leaving the springboard or platform (the vertical departure).

+ A “short” entry = represents a water entry that is shorter than the vertical, therefore it lacks rotation.

+ An “over the vertical” entry = represents a water entry that is greater than the vertical, therefore it results in too much rotation.

+ The connection = represents the moment where the diver will take his position in the air.

+ “Whip” = refers to the action that is done by the divers at the beginning of the dive to create the rotation. A term that may seem strange if you don’t fully understand the definition in relation to diving.

+ Being “tight” = a term that coaches like to use to describe a muscle contraction throughout the whole body that allows for better control and precision.

+ A “gainer” = refers to the desired position during the dive opening which results in a maximum abdominal contraction.


The number of dives to be executed during competition may vary according to the level of the competition (ex: regional, provincial, national, etc.) and the type of event (junior, senior, individual, synchronized or mixed).

During the Olympic Games or competitions on the international circuit, male divers must perform between 6 dives, while female divers perform 5 divers, either on the 3 meter springboard or the 10 meter platform:

During competitions, divers can only perform a maximum number of dives. However, during training they can practice hundreds of different dives in order to improve their competitive dives. Repetition is an essential element in achieving diving performance.

WOMEN – 5 optional dives (no DD limit) in each session of the competition

MEN – 6 optional dives (no DD limit) in each session of the competition


When watching the dives, judges must consider five different phases:

1) The starting position on the board (body alignment);

2) The approach and hurdle (fluidity, rhythm);

3) The take-off (power, direction, distance from the springboard/platform);

4) The flight (in the air, positions, openings, solidity);

5) The entry (splash, vertical or not in relation to the water).

The judges watch the dive and then instantly provide a score between 0 and 10, including half points. In order to give their score, they must not only observe the 5 phases of the dive, but must also respect a scale of marks which represents the level of satisfaction of the dive that was executed.

0 points: Completely failed

0.5 to 2 points: Unsatisfactory

2.5 to 4.5 points: Deficient

5 to 6.5 points: Satisfactory

7 to 8 points: Good

8.5 to 9.5 points: Very good

10 points: Excellent

What is the difference between good and exceptional diving? There are four main factors that often come into play:

1) Strength and power;

2) Economy of movement throughout the dive;

3) Tight positions and good body lines;

4) Precision.

Number of judges: up to 7

The highest and lowest scores are disregarded.

The remaining  scores are added together.

The sum is multiplied by the DD of the dive to give them their final score.

The final score of each dive is added together to give the final score.

Dive Canada 101 ( Printable version)