Diving scores are based on how judges evaluate the dives. The aim is to score the highest number of points possible. Judges score each dive between zero to ten points, and in half increments.
The meaning of the scores are as follows:
|0 points||Completely Failed|
|8.5-9.5 points||Very Good|
Usually, during individual diving events at the Olympics, the FINA (the international governing body for diving) appoints seven judges and one referee. Although the referee makes sure all rules and regulations are followed, they do not affect the score. The judges solely award scores based on the scale.
After the judges have compiled their scores for individual diving, the scoring will work as follows. Out of the seven judges, the highest 2 scores and the lowest 2 scores will be discarded. For example, if the scores are: 8, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, the scores of 8 and 7 will be discarded as they are the two highest. And the scores of 5 and 6 will be discarded as they are the two lowest. The sum of the remaining scores will be: 6 + 6 + 6 = 18. This total number will then be multiplied by the degree of difficulty. This number is already predetermined based on the specific diving act. The scale of the degree of difficulty ranges from 1.2 to 4.1. If the degree of difficulty was 2.0, the total score would be 18 x 2.0 = 36.0. This would be the final score for the dive performed.
When scoring a dive, it is based on five different criteria. They are approach, take-off, elevation, execution, and entry.
First, the approach is the diver's starting position, and they must be confident, relaxed, and standing straight up. The diver must have their arms straight forward, either over their head or to their side. The approach must be straight, smooth, and forceful before they get into the hurdle.
Second, the take-off is the diver's lift from the board, and they must show balance and control. The landing of the dive must have a proper angle and leave a safety margin between the board and diver.
Third, the elevation is the amount of lift or spring the diver gets from the take-off as that impacts the impression of the dive. Typically, a higher dive showcases the smoothness of the movement and significant accuracy.
Fourth, the execution is the actual dive itself. The judges will be watching for proper technique, form, performance, and grace. The dive should be a crisp performance with control and flair.
Lastly, the entry is the diver's entry into the water. This is a crucial component as this is the last thing the judges will see. A successful diver will have minimal splashing of water and a graceful and vertical entry. Most entries are head-first, as feet-first is very uncommon.
The five components the judges evaluate a dive are based on the: approach, take-off, elevation, execution, and entry. The approach is the diver's starting position and they should be practicing good form. The take-off is the lift before the execution of the dive. The elevation is the amount of lift or spring the diver gets from their take-off. The execution is the dive itself and to see if the diver followed proper form, technique, performance, and grace. And lastly, the entry is an important part as it's the last thing the judges will see and is the diver's entry into the water.
The highest score in diving will depend on the type of dive and the level of difficulty on a dive. There is no universally accepted "high score" for a dive. The level of difficulty is a predetermined number and must be multiplied by the total sum of the dive. When judges are evaluating the dive, they must judge without regard to the difficulty. The highest score ever received for a dive was awarded to Matthew Mitcham at 112.10 points.
The highest 2 scores and the lowest 2 scores are crossed out. These scores are discarded to help prevent any manipulation of scores from the judge's side. This then allows a more objective point of view on the scores and can discard any outliers. For example, if the diving scores are as follows: 9, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6. The two highest scores are 9 and 8 so they would be discarded, and 7 and 6 are the two lowest scores so they would also be discarded. The sum of the remaining scores would be: 8 + 8 + 7 = 23.
Form is crucial when divers are preparing to execute their dive. Before diving, they must seem relaxed, confident, and in proper form. Judges not only judge the dive, but also the "approach." When the diver takes off, they will gain a certain amount of elevation, and the higher the elevation is, the greater chance of having a smooth movement with increased accuracy. The tuck, straight, free, or pike positions are important components of the dive's execution and should be performed with a great amount of control and flair. Diving requires a proper form, technique, and control of movements.