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Judging and Scoring in Diving


Scoring System

The score in a diving competition ranges from one to ten, with increments of ½-points. The first step in calculating the raw score for a dive is by adding the total points from all three judges. This raw score is then multiply by the degree of difficulty of the dive, which will give the dive score. In a diving competition, there has to be a minimum of three judges and no more than nine judges. If there are more than three judges in the panel, the highest and lowest scores are dropped and the raw score is taken from the remaining judges. In majority international competitions, there are typically more than five judges. The dive score is calculated using the 3/5 method. This involves multiplying the sum of the raw score from the judges by the degree of difficulty and then by .06. This final score will be equivalent to a three-judge score. Here is a scoring scenario of a five-judge panel.

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  1. Individual scores from judges: 6.5, 6, 6.5, 6, 5.5, 6
  2. Lowest (5.5) and Highest (6.5) scores are dropped
  3. Raw Score = 18.5 (6.5 + 6.5 + 6)
  4. Raw Score (18.5) x Degree of Difficulty (2.0)
  5. Total Score for the Dive = 37.0


As judging can be relatively subjectivity, it is always recommended to have more than three judges in the panel. This will eliminate any bias from any of the judges and provide a more precise scoring for the dive.


Criteria for Judging a Dive

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

Note: This is the FINA judging scale. High school and NCAA competitions uses a slightly different scale.


Five Basic Elements of a Dive

When judging a dive, there are five basic elements that are required to be taken into consideration with equal importance before awarding a score.

Firstly, a dive will be judged once the diver assumes the Starting Position on the platform. There are a total of four positions, so judging will be based upon that specific position. Usually, the diver has to stand upright with his/her arms straight and steady in a position of the diver’s choice.

Secondly, a diver will be judged upon his/her Approach. On front approaches, he/she has to move to the end of the springboard in a smooth motion, while showing good form. By using no less than three steps, the diver has to execute a forward hurdle after the last step. A hurdle refers to the jump to the end of the board and it must be executed from just one foot. As for the back approach, it is characterised by a series of arm swings that are used to initiate momentum. During the back approach, the diver’s feet is not allowed to leave the platform. If a diver begins the approach from the starting position and stops abruptly, the referee will declare a fault and two points will be deducted from each judge’s score. If the same mistake is made again, it will result in a failed dive and no points will be given.

Thirdly, after completing the approach, the diver will be judge on his/her Take-Off. In this element, balance and control are the main criteria that are judged upon. Judges will also take into account an appropriate safe distance from the platform.

Fourthly, divers will be judged on how smooth and graceful their Flight is. During the flight, the dive should not move to the left or right of the platform. At the same time, no body parts should touch the platform. During the dive, the body shall be carried in any of the four acceptable positions: tuck, pike, straight, or free.

Lastly, the Entry into the water plays a crucial role in determining the scores given. Entry will be based on whether it is head-first or feet-first and how vertical the body is. The diver’s body should be straight, the legs together, and the toes pointed. On head-first entries, the arms must be extended over the head and align with body. As for feet-first entries, the arms have to be straight and by the side of the diver.

As mentioned, judging diving can be subjective or in layman terms, based on personal preference. Therefore, a judge who is more familiar with the rules and possess more experience will be able to be more consistent in the scoring.


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