Understanding the sport of diving.

Information provided by www.USADiving.org


There are six groups of dives. The first four are classified by the direction the diver rotates. 

1. Forward group: The diver faces the front of the board and rotates toward the water. Dives in this group vary from simple front dives to difficult forward, four and one half somersaults.

2. Backward group: Dives in the backward group begin with the diver on the end of the board, with his or her back to the water, so as to rotate away from the board.

3. Reverse group: Formerly called “gainers,” these dives begin with the diver facing the front of the board but then rotates toward the board.

4. Inward group: The diver stands on the end of the board with his or her back to the water and rotates toward the board.

5. Twisting group: Any dive that uses a twist (excluding armstands) is included in this group. There are four types of twists: forward, backward, reverse, and inward.

6. Armstand group: The diver assumes a handstand position on the edge of the platform before the dive. (Armstand positions are never used on the springboard.)




A dive may be performed using one of the following four positions. 

Pike: The legs are straight with the body bent at the waist. Like the straight position, arm placement is dictated by the particular dive or by the choice of the diver.


Tuck: The Body is bent at the waist and knees, with thighs drawn to the chest and heels kept close to the buttocks. Feet and knees should be kept together and toes should be pointed.


Straight: No bend at the waist or knees. Depending on the dive, there may be an arch in the back. Arm placement is the diver’s choice or is defined by the dive performed.

Free: Indicates the diver’s option to use any of the above three positions, or combinations thereof, when performing a twisting 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


Required Dives & Optional Dives

"Required Dives" also referred to as "Vols" are the simple dives in each group. These dives are typically less than one flip in each direction. Example: 101 front dive, 201 back dive, 301 reverse dive, 401 inward dive..

"Optional Dives" are the harder dives that typically equal to one flip or more in each direction.

Example: 103 front one and half, 202 back flip, 302 reverse flip, 402 flip..

All high school divers are required to have one Required Dive and 5 Optional Dives in their list during the regular high school season and 5 Required Dives and 6 Optionals Dives during City and State Meet.

All middle school divers are required to have 3 Required Dives and 2 Optional Dives in the regular season and 4 Required Dives and 4 Optional Dives for City Meet.

Middle School Only: Required dives can be any dive listed on the FINA diving list of dives. Jumps and line ups cannot be used, although any dive can be repeated in a list as long as they are in a different position.

Follow this link to see a complete list of dives.


Divers who are unable to attend their competition due to an excused absence will be allowed to compete in a mock meet during the week before competition. Divers have to notify their coach of the absence at the start of the competition week. Divers who participate in the mock meet will be scored the same as a typical meet. Although scores will be carried over, divers who do not participate during the regular schedule Sunday meet will not be eligible to place ahead of divers who are in attendance. With the low number of divers it is almost guaranteed that all divers will score points for their team.


Each judge scores a dive between zero and 10 points, in half-point increments. Scores are defined as follows:

10: Excellent
8½-9½: Very good
7-8: Good
5-6½: Satisfactory
2½-4½: Deficient
½-2: Unsatisfactory
0: Completely failed

Judges evaluate the following parts of a dive to determine an overall score:

Approach: Three or more steps forward to the end of the board before the hurdle and takeoff. Should be smooth but forceful, showing good form.

Takeoff: A diver’s lift from the board prior to execution of the dive. 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 takeoff 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: The dive itself. Form: A judge watches for proper mechanical performance, technique, form, and grace.

Entry: The entry into the water is significant because it’s the last thing the judge sees. Judges favor a graceful, vertical entry along with a minimal amount of splash.



Question: Will my high school diver have to dive on the "high Dive"

Answer: High school season only requires competition on the 1 meter (lowest springboard)

Question: When is it a good time to get started in diving?

Answer: When your child can swim across the pool without assistance they are good to start diving.

Question: How do points transfer over to our swim & dive competition?

Answer: Divers count similar to a swimmer in their event, 1st place in diving is equal to 1st place in swimming. 

Question: Should my diver do AAU or USA competitions?

Answer: AAU Meets are typically based around judging the fundamental dives and skills. Divers have a lower requirement for competition. USA Diving is focused on National level competition. Divers are required to maintain a higher level of skills to compete and will be expected to travel outside of the state for competitions.

Do you have question about diving you would like to share? Email Coach Mike at [email protected] to get it posted so others can learn more about the sport.