Elaine Tan – Sports Physiotherapist – Talks Olympic Platform Diving

Posted on July 30, 2017 by Kylie

In this new series of articles, we have Elaine, our sports physiotherapist, taking us through a range of sports and their interesting facts.

Physiotherapists with expert knowledge and skills in the area of sports are awarded the title of Sports Physiotherapist by the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA). They would have undergone a rigorous selection process to ensure they achieve and maintain exceptional standards of clinical experience and knowledge. This APA Title serves as a professional mark of distinction. Most sports physiotherapists are involved with sporting teams or associations, from local club level to elite. Elaine’s experience so far has included her role as team physiotherapist for Judo Queensland, Judo Federation Australia and Hockey NSW apart from seasonal work with West Harbour Pirates Rugby Union Club and other sporting events she’s worked in.

 To kick start the series, Elaine talks about the lesser known sport of platform diving.

Olympic Platform Diving – Part One: Introduction to Platform Diving and Scoring

By Elaine Tan, APA Sports Physiotherapist, MPhty(Sports) BAppSc(Phty), APAM

Most of us would have watched platform diving during the Olympics or other international competitions during their broadcast on TV, but have we ever wondered what the judges are scoring or what they are looking for in the dive or diver? In this four-part series, we will go through what exactly is platform diving, how it’s scored, a closer look at its execution and some of the injuries associated with this sport.


There are 2 types of competitive diving – platform and springboard. The main categories for diving in major events such as the Olympics, are the 10m platform and 3m springboard with individual and synchronized events for both men and women. In 2014, FINA (Federation Internationale De Natation) started high diving competitions – a 27m platform for men, and a 20m platform for women.

Diving platform


There are 6 groups of dives, namely the front, back, reverse, inward, twist and armstand. These are named according to the starting position of the diver and the direction in which his/her body rotates.

Diving Styles



There are 4 different positions of dives:

  • Straight – a diver is fully extended at the lower back and knees with the toes pointed, with or without arching his back depending on the dive. His upper extremities are either placed at 90deg abduction or by his sides with full elbow extension and wrists neutral.
  • Pike – the lumbar spine and hips are fully flexed, knees fully extended and ankles in full plantarflexion with toes pointed. Arm placement is either at 90deg abduction or wrapped around the knees, bringing the thighs to the chest.
  • Tuck – the diver is rolled into a ball with full flexion at the lumbar and thoracic spine, and the knees /hip fully flexed, with thighs touching the chest and heels touching the buttocks with toes pointed.
  • Free – this is not an actual position but a combination of any 2 of the above 3 when performing a twisting dive.

Diving Moves

The combination of one group with the number of somersaults and one position forms a dive, for example, an inward group with 3 ½ somersaults in tuck position form a dive named as “Inward 3 ½ somersault tuck position”

OlympicsDegree of Difficulty

The degree of difficulty for each dive Increases as more somersaults and twists are added. The further each body segment is from the somersaulting axis, the more difficult the dive. Hence, dives in straight are more difficult than the pike position, which in turn is more difficult than the tuck position. The type of approach and whether the diver can see the water before entering also adds to the difficulty level (IOC Medical Commission, 2000).

Olympic Moves


In international competitions, men perform 6 different dives while women perform 5 different ones. They must complete one dive from each group with no limit to the degree of difficulty. A panel of 7 judges is used for individual events while a panel of 11 is used for synchronized events. After each dive, the judges immediately enter their score without communicating to each other. In the individual event, the 2 highest and 2 lowest scores are cancelled, then the remaining scores are added, before multiplying by the difficulty level to get the final score.

Olympic ScoresA score of 0 to 10 is awarded based on the overall impression of the technique and execution of all components of the dive, ie. the starting position, approach, take-off or press, flight, and entry phases. A judge must keep every component in mind when scoring a dive without overemphasizing any single element. This is especially true when it comes to the entry. Conversely, the raw score is not influenced by the diver’s preparation to the starting position, difficulty level, and movement of the diver beneath the water surface.

Olympic Scores FINA

In Part Two of this series, I will explain in detail each component of a dive its execution. Stay tuned!

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