Types of Dives Used in Springboard and Platform Diving

Competitive Dives and How They Are Identified

Six basic types of dives are used in springboard and platform diving. Four of these involve somersaulting either toward or away from the diving board or platform and include using a forward approach and hurdle or a backward press. A fifth type adds twists to any of the other types and finally the sixth type, the arm stand combines somersaults and twists and is used exclusively in platform diving.

Each dive is identified by a three- or four-digit dive number, which can be interpreted through an understanding of the coding. For example, a dive might be labeled 203C, which a knowledgeable fan will recognize as a backward dive with 1.5 somersaults performed in the tuck position. 

Here is a basic introduction to the dives and dive numbers. 

Basic Dive Group: the First Digit of the Dive Number

The first digit indicates the basic dive type, specified by a number from 1 to 6. These basic dive types are: 

  • Forward (1)
  • Back (2)
  • Reverse (3)
  • Inward (4)
  • Twisting (5)
  • Armstand (6)

The first four dive groups all use three-digit numbers, which can be interpreted as follows:

Somersault or Flying: the Second Digit of the Dive Number

The second digit of the dive number will always be 0 or 1. This indicates that the dive is either a normal somersault (0), or is a "flying dive" (1) which is almost never seen in competition.

Number of Half Somersaults: the Third Digit in the Dive Number

The third digit in the dive number is of more interest, as it indicates how many half-revolutions the diver is making. A dive labeled a 204, in other words, is a back dive with two full somersaults. 

Dive Position: The final Letter in the Dive Number

Finally, dive number will end in the letter A, B, C, or D, which refers to the dive position—straight, pike, tuck, or free. 

  • A: a straight position dive—with no bend at the knees or hips (considered the hardest of the four).
  • B: A pike position dive—with knees straight but a tight bend at the hips (considered of medium difficulty).
  • C: A dive in the tuck position—body folded up in ball (considered the easiest position).
  • D: a "free" dive—a twisting dive in which the position changes during the dive. 

Group 5 Dives

Twisting dives all are identified with four-digit numbers. The first digit, 5, identifies the dive as one from the twisting dive group. The second digit indicates the group (1–4) of the underlying movement—whether the dive is from the forward, back, reverse, or inward position. The third digit indicates the number of half-somersaults, and the fourth indicates the number of half-twists. 

For example, in a dive identified as 5337D, the first number (5) identifies it as from the twisting group; the second digit (3) indicates that the dive is from the reverse position; the third digit (3) indicates 1.5 somersaults; and the last digit (7) indicates that the dive has 3.5 twists. The final letter (D) identifies the dive as being a free dive. 

Group 6 Dives

Armstand dives all begin with the digit 6 but may have a total of either three or four total digits. Three-digit dives are those without twists; four-digit dives include twisting. 

In non-twisting armstand dives, the second digit indicates the direction of rotation (0 = no rotation, 1 = forward, 2 = backward, 3 = reverse, 4 = inward) and the third digit indicates the number of half-somersaults. 

For twisting armstand dives, the dive number again has 4 digits.  The second digit indicates the direction of rotation (0 = no rotation, 1 = forward, 2 = backward, 3 = reverse, 4 = inward).  The third is the number of half-somersaults, and the fourth is the number of half-twists.

For example: 624C is an armstand (6), back (2), double somersault (4), from the tuck position (C). 

A  6243D  is armstand (6), back (2), double-somersault (4), with 1.5 twists (3), in the free position (D). 

Degree of Difficulty

All of these dives are assigned a D.D. (degree of difficulty) to indicate the difficulty or complexity of the dive. The total score that the dive receives from the judges is multiplied by the D.D. (also known as a tariff) to give the dive a final score. Before a diver competes, they must decide on a "list"—a number of optional dives and compulsory dives. The optionals come with a D.D. limit. This means that a diver must select X number of dives and that the combined D.D. limit must be no more than the limit set by the competition/organization.

Until the mid-1990s, the tariff was decided by the FINA diving committee, and divers could only select from the range of dives in the published tariff table. Since then, the tariff is calculated by a formula based on various factors, such as the number of twist and somersaults, the height, the group etc., and divers are free to submit new combinations. This change was implemented because new dives were being invented too frequently for an annual meeting to accommodate the progress of the sport.

Forward Dives

Diver in mid-air
Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images

Divers face the end of the board and the water and approach the end using a forward approach and hurdle. Once the diver reaches the end and leaves the springboard, he or she will rotate away from the diving board for as little as half of a somersault or as many as 4.5 somersaults. Examples of dives from the forward group:

  • Forward Dive in the Pike Position (100B)
  • Forward 1.5 somersaults in the Tuck Position (103C)
  • Forward 2.5 somersaults in the Pike Position (105B)
  • Forward 4.5  somersaults in the Tuck Position (109C)

Back Dives

Ken Nee Yeoh of Malaysia competes in Sydney in 2000.
Ken Nee Yeoh of Malaysia competes in Sydney in 2000. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Dives from the backward group are executed with the diver standing on the end of the board with their back to the water. After executing a backward press and takeoff, the diver rotates away from the springboard for as little as half of a somersault or as many as 3.5 somersaults. Examples of dives from the backward group:

  • Back Dive in the Straight Position (200A)
  • Back 1.5 Somersaults in the Straight Position (203A)
  • Back 2.5 Somersaults in the Pike Position (205B)
  • Back 3.5 Somersaults in the Tuck Position (207C)

Reverse Dives

Christina Loukas
Christina Loukas - 2009 AT&T FINA Grand Prix. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Also known as a "gainer," the diver faces the end of the board and the water and after a forward approach and hurdle, the diver rotates back toward the diving board while moving forward and away from the diving board for as many as 3.5 somersaults. Examples of dives from the reverse group:

  • Reverse Dive in the Tuck Position (300C)
  • Reverse 1.5 Somersaults in the Pike Position (303B)
  • Reverse 2.5 Somersaults in the Pike Position (305B)
  • Reverse 3.5 Somersaults in the Tuck Position (307C)

Inward Dives

Allison Brennan at the 2007 World Championships
Allison Brennan at the 2007 World Championships. Photo: Quinn Rooney

Inward dives begin with the diver on the end of the springboard with the back to the water. The diver executes a backward press and takeoff and then rotates toward the diving board while moving away from the board, for as many as 3.5 somersaults. Examples of dives from the inward group:

  • Inward Dive in the "Open" Pike Position (400B)
  • Inward 1.5 Somersaults in the Tuck Position (403C)
  • Inward 2.5 Somersaults in the Pike Position (405B)
  • Inward 3.5 Somersaults in the Tuck Position (407C)

Twisting Dives

Fadzly Mubin / Flickr

Any dive that uses a twist can be considered a twisting dive. Twisting dives can be executed from the forward, back, reverse and inward direction, and also performed from an armstand. While many armstand dives include twists, they are not listed in the degree of difficulty table with "twisters," but grouped rather with the "armstand" category. Examples of dives from the twisting group:

  • Forward 1 Somersault, 1 Twist in the Free Position (5122D)
  • Back 1.5 Somersaults, 1.5 Twists in the Free Position (5233D)
  • Reverse 1.5 Somersaults, 2.5 Twists in the Free Position (5335D)
  • Forward 2.5 Somersaults, 1 Twist in the Pike Position (5152B)

Armstand Dives

Sara Hildebrand of the U.S. competes in Athens in 2004.
Sara Hildebrand of the U.S. competes in Athens in 2004. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

All armstand dives are performed from the platform—at 5-meters, 7.5-meters or 10-meters. The diver executes a handstand from the edge of the platform facing either forward (their back facing the water) or backward (their front facing the water), and performs the dive from this starting position. The start of this type of dive begins when both diver's feet leave the platform surface. Examples of dives from the armstand group:

  • Armstand Forward 2 Somersaults in the Pike Position (614B)
  • Armstand Reverse 2 Somersaults in the Tuck Position (634C)
  • Armstand Back 2 Somersaults, 1/2 Twist in the Pike Position (6241B)
  • Armstand Back 2 Somersaults, 1.5 Twists in the Free Position (6243D)