Dives are divided into groups based on starting position and direction. There are five groups of dives for all springboard and platform events, plus an additional sixth for just platform. The groups are numbered 1-6:
1. Forward: The diver starts facing toward the pool and rotates forward away from the board/platform.
2. Backward: The diver starts facing away from the pool and rotates backward away from the board/platform.
3. Reverse: The diver starts facing toward the pool and rotates backward toward the board/platform
4. Inward: The diver starts facing away from the pool and rotates forward toward the board/platform
5. Twisting: Any dive that includes at least one twist, regardless of starting position or direction.
6. Armstand: The diver begins the dive from a motionless handstand on the edge of the platform. (Platform only)
Divers must attempt at least one dive from all available groups in each round of competition. The exception to this is the women’s individual and synchronized platform events, where five dives are required out of 6 groups. The diver(s) may select the group from which they will not perform a dive. In the men’s individual and synchronized springboard events, six dives are required from 5 groups (armstand is impossible on springboard). Similarly, the diver(s) select from which group they want to perform a second dive.
There are four body positions that a diver can take while in midair. They are designated by letters.
(A) Straight: The body is completely extended from head to toe.
(B) Pike: The body is bent at the waist with legs straight, lower legs in front of the diver’s face. Similar to a “touch your toes” exercise.
(C) Tuck: The body is bent at the knees and hips with knees held to the chest.
(D) Free: A combination of straight, pike or tuck, used only in twisting dives.
Constructing a dive
Dives comprise of a starting position and direction (the group), a body position, and an amount of somersaults and/or twists. Every possible dive is designated by an alphanumeric code used to assign degree of difficulty.
The first digit of the code (always 1-6) signifies the group of the dive. The final digit (always a letter) identifies the body position. For example, a 301B is a reverse (3) dive in the pike (B) position, while a 5235D is a twisting (5) dive done in the free (D) position.
If a dive does not include a twist, it contains three numbers before the letter. After the group number, the second digit designates whether the dive is a flying dive. If it is, the second digit will be a “1”; if it is not, it will be a “0”. The third digit designates the number of half-somersaults included in the dive. For example, a 107C is a forward (1) dive in the tuck (C) position that includes 3 ½ somersaults (7 half-somersaults) and is not a flying dive (0).
If a dive is a twisting dive, it contains four numbers before the letter. The first number is always “5” to designate the twisting group. Since that indicates nothing about the starting position, the second number (1-4) indicates the starting position and direction. The third number indicates number of half-somersaults, and the fourth number indicates number of half-twists. For example, a 5154D is a twisting (5) forward (1) dive that includes 2 ½ somersaults (5 half-somersaults) and two twists (4 half-twists), done in the free (D) position.
Degree of difficulty
Every legal competition dive has an assigned degree of difficulty (DD) rating used for scoring. Generally, the more somersaults and twists required for the dive, the higher the DD rating. For example, a 5132D (Forward 1½ Somersaults 1 Twist) has a DD of 2.1 on springboard, while the same dive with two additional twits (5136D) has a DD of 3.0.
Small differences in DD are also reflected in the selection of group and body position. A dive done in a pike position will always have a slightly higher DD than the same dive done in a tuck position, for example.
Naturally, the more difficult the dive, the higher the risk of executing it poorly. Because of this, even the most elite divers often attempt some dives of lower DD, if they are confident that they can execute them flawlessly.