Many times judges make the mistake of judging elements of the dive that they cannot see.
Case in point.
A judge is waiting for the contest to begin, and as they bide their time, they watch the divers warm-up prior to the contest. One judge notices, because of where they are sitting and their viewing angle, that a diver has a pronounced split tuck during a dive.
Now on a normal basis, an exaggerated split tuck is a cause for concern, and may prompt a judge to give a score that is less than what they would have received with a tight tuck position.
Once the contest begins though, the judge is seated so that they are at an angle where this split tuck is not noticeable.
The diver in question completes a dive in which the judge knows that they use a split tuck, but they cannot see it.
Should they give the diver a score that takes into account the split tuck?
Judging What You See
An important aspect of judging is making a decision based solely on what the judge sees, not what they infer, regardless of what they know about a particular diver or dive.
On the other side of the coin, an important aspect of being a diver involves completing a dive with the intent of convincing the judges that they should give exceptional scores, using whatever means necessary!
And part of this process involves a bit of slight of hand - a bit of sleight of hand that is perfectly legal, and many times encouraged.
Tricks of the Trade
Divers know all about this - splitting their tuck during the middle to the dive to spin faster; flat feet during the middle of the dive but pointing the toes in the beginning and end; underwater saves to make a dive that that over-rotates, appear to go in straight.
These tricks are all part of the game, and are used by many divers to accomplish one goal – achieve higher scores.
But many of these tricks are also part of the criteria that a judge uses to evaluate a dive. Divers know it, and judges know it. And the role of the judge is to eliminate that aspect of diving from their mind as they watch the contest!
Focus on the Dive Not the Parts
Not all elements of a dive are conscious efforts to fool the judges. Things happen in dives that are the result of inattention or just plain forces of gravity – such as when legs separate during a twisting dive.
And most experienced judges know this and have seen it happen – especially when a tape is reviewed or a replay is shown on a video screen. But most judges also realize that at the moment and in real-time speed, these things are barely noticeable, if they can be seen at all.
Part of the process of becoming a skilled judge, whether it is at a summer league contest or a national championship, is being able to focus solely on what you see in front of you at the moment you see it.
To concentrate on the overall impression of that particular dive and not what was done in the past, what may be done I in the future, or what might have been done in the present.
The job of a judge is to help determine who performs the best during the contest in which they have been selected to be an official. Only by judging what they see can a judge fulfill that promise.