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FINA’s New Degree of Difficulty Table

309B is Tops With a D.D. of 4.8

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LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Tom Daley of Great Britain competes in the Men's 10m Platform Final on day three of the FINA/NVC Diving World Series at the London Aquatics Centre on April 27, 2014 in London, England.
Clive Rose / Getty Images

There once was a time when having a diving list with optional dives that had a degree of difficulty of 3.0 or above was a benchmark for success. Now of course, you needed to be able to put those dives on your head for good scores, but if you could, you were going to be competitive.

Not that this is a thing of the past, but with the new changes to the degree of difficulty formula and table, which became effective in September of 2009, the potential for a list of dives with a degree of difficulty (D.D.) over 4.0, makes a 3.0 list seem a bit mundane.

Let’s put some of these changes in perspective. At the Beijing Olympics, pretty much the pinnacle of diving, the highest degree of difficulty used was 3.8 – a reverse 2 ½ somersaults with 2 ½ twists in pike on both three- and 10-meter, and that dive at the time was not even listed on the D.D. table.

With the new version of the degree of difficulty chart from FINA, the International Governing Body for Aquatic Sports, there are 13 dives listed in the table that have a D.D. over 4.0, as compared to two in the ’05 version! If a diver is so inclined, they now have the opportunity to compete dives with a D.D. of 4.0 or better, in all but the twisting and armstand categories.

This is topped off by a 309B on three-meter, a reverse 4 ½ in pike position, that claims the title as the most difficult “listed” springboard or platform dive at 4.8!

One clarification is in order though – just because a dive is not listed on the table does not mean it is off limits. It just means that at the time the table was published, that particular dive had not been used in competition.

If You List It, They Will Come

The unique aspect about these new additions is that there is a psychological twist that comes with actually seeing a dive and its D.D. – it becomes possible, creating a kind of out of sight, out of mind mentality in reverse! This is in contrast to being creative, and seeing possibilities and new dives, where most of us mere mortals see another reverse 2 ½ in tuck.

Where Do The Changes Come From

Many of changes in the table, 24 in fact, come as a result of new dives being added. In some instances, such as a 5255B (reverse 2 ½ somersaults with 2 ½ twists), the dives were actually being competed with the D.D. being computed using the degree of difficulty formula.

The remainder of the 46 changes are a result of restructuring of the degree of difficulty formula, a formula that adds a series of values that are assigned to elements that make up a dive. A total of 34 dives saw an increase in difficulty, and another 12 lost ground.

4 ½’s in All Directions

Prior to the new D.D. table revision, the only dive with a 9 on the end was a 109C (confused about dive numbers – read this), a forward 4 ½ in tuck position on both three-meter and 10-meter. New to the table are 9’s in four categories (front, back, reverse and inward), and in both tuck and pike. I wouldn’t count on seeing anyone doing these on a regular basis, but with each dive except the front 4 ½ in tuck having a DD exceeding 4.0, you never know!

Lost Art of Multiple Twists

Another emphasis of change is a result of FINA making an effort to encourage the use of dives that emphasize twisting without multiple somersaults. Dives such as a triple twisting, or quadruple twisting 1 ½, have seen an increase in difficulty, while dives such as a back or reverse 2 ½ with 2 ½ twists, saw a drop in D.D. The goal being to encourage better development of twisting skills, instead of adding twists for the sake of more difficulty.

What’s Next

As divers get stronger, as training methods improve, and as competition continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, it’s not hard to imagine the next round of change including a dive with a D.D. of over 5.0! A back 4 ½ with 1 ½ twists might do the trick.

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