Although the term is a bit misleading as voluntary dives are not truly voluntary, for simplicity sake think of these dives as the easier or compulsory dives.
In the past voluntary dives were referred to as required dives and many coaches today still refer to these dives in an off-hand way as "requireds."
Voluntary dives demonstrate that a diver has mastered basic techniques in the approach and hurdle such as balance and coordination, aesthetic qualities such as physical presence, grace, and form, and the awe-inspiring entry into the water with little or no splash - known as a rip.
While many diving contests are won by completing the optional dives for high scores, divers can put themselves at a great disadvantage by not being able to perform voluntary dives for the same high scores.
The use of “Vols” has changed over the years, having been phased out of individual senior, elite and Division I NCAA competitons. They are currently still used in novice, junior, high school and collegiate diving competitons in division II and III, where they are instrumental in a diver’s development. On the elite level, voluntaries are still used in synchronized diving.
Depending on the diver's age and the type of contest (high school, USA Diving, etc.) in which voluntaries are used, divers are required to perform a set of dives that have a limit on the total degree of difficulty when added together. These dives must come from separate diving groups - forward, back, reverse, inward, twisting, and armstand (only used in platform diving), and can be chosen by the diver; but a diving group cannot be repeated.
For example, female divers in a USA Diving sanctioned 16-18 age-group contest on the one-meter springboard must perform five voluntary dives from each of the five diving groups and the total degree of difficulty cannot exceed 9.0.
- Number and scope is determined by diver’s age and type of event
- Dives must come from a predetermined set number of diving groups
- Limits on the total degree of difficulty
|Sample Dive List|
|Dive||Degree of Difficulty|
|Forward 1 1/2 Somersaults Pike||1.7|
|Back Dive Pike||1.6|
|Reverse Dive Pike||1.7|
|Inward Dive Pike||1.5|
|Forward 1 1/2 Somersaults, 1 Twist Free||2.2|
|Total Degree of Difficulty (Voluntary Dives)||8.7|
|Forward 2 1/2 Somersaults Tuck||2.4|
|Back 1 1/2 Somersaults Pike||2.3|
|Reverse 1 1/2 Somersaults Tuck||2.1|
|Inward 1 1/2 Somersaults Pike||2.4|
|Total Degree of Difficulty (Optional Dives)||9.2|