You see a great dive. I mean a great dive. A dive so good that you want to give it the highest mark possible - a score of 10.
But is the dive perfect? Can any dive really be perfect?
This is a big question that has no doubt filled every judge’s thoughts as they thumb the tabs on a scorecard, or contemplate pushing the 10 button on a keypad.
A Perfect Dive
In the past, common thought (at least in the public eye) always depicted a dive that received scores of 10 as a “perfect” dive, such as Greg Louganis did at the world championships in 1982.
The point here is that when judging, there is no such thing as a “perfect” dive. There will always be flaws in a dive – we are human and even in the most impressive performances there will be errors, however slight they may be. Even Greg's dive had flaws, although you would be hard pressed to find them.
As a result, judges and spectators should never consider a dive that receives a 10, a perfect dive.
Different Contest, Different Score
Remember though, the goal of judging is to score each dive keeping in mind the level of competition in the contest.
Following this train of thought, when comparing divers in a contest, it may be appropriate to give a diver a 10 in order to separate his or her execution of a dive from the rest of the field.
This concept is reflected in the judging scale for high school, NCAA and FINA competitions, there is no mention of perfect. FINA, the international governing body for diving, describes a 10 as an excellent dive, while high school rules rate the scale of 9-10 as exceptional, and the NCAA considers any dive that receives a score between 8.5-10 very good. That is what a great dive is - an excellent or exceptional dive as compared to the competition.
This is not to say that you want to give every great dive a 10. Many dives, despite the fact that they may be better than those done by other competitors, may not be excellent or exceptional. However, in a contest where the divers clearly have a skill level that demonstrates a mastery of dives performed, a 10 may be appropriate.
The "Wow" Factor
A general rule of thumb is that when you see a dive that makes you think “wow,” don’t be afraid to toss out a 10.
So the next time you see a great dive, I mean a really great dive that makes your jaw drop, don’t hesitate and give it a 10! There is no doubt that one person in the pool will approve of your choice.