Four Main Diving Positions

During the flight of a dive, the body must be held in one of four diving positions: tuck, pike, straight, or free. Each of these positions is designated by a letter on a diving score sheet.

  • Straight: A
  • Pike: B
  • Tuck: C
  • Free: D

Diving's Link to Gymnastics and Dance

Diving is a very popular sport among Olympic spectators. Professional divers have the same abilities as dancers, gymnasts and other athletes, as they have to be flexible, strong and demonstrate proper alignment. In fact, many gymnasts transition into the diving sport because the sports have related skills.

Learn more about these four positions used in competitive diving.

Diving: Straight Position

Matt Scoggins
Matt Scoggins of the U.S. competes on the 10-meter platform in Barcelona in 1992. Simon Bruty/Getty Images

The straight position is characterized by the absence of a bend in either the hips or knees. The arm position is the choice of the diver so long as the rest stays the same. Some dives can begin in the flying position with the body kept straight and the diver's arms to the side; the arms then go into a regular diving position prior to hitting the water.

Diving: Pike Position

An athlete practices during a diving training session ahead of the London Olympic Games
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The pike position is performed with the knees straight and the body bent or folded at the waist. A proper pike position will demonstrate no gap between the upper body and the legs. Pike position can be performed with the hands touching the feet or extending out from the body in an open pike position, or with the arms wrapping around the legs in a ​closed pike position.

Diving: Tuck Position

Troy Dumais
U.S. Diver Troy Dumais. Al Bello/Getty Images

The tuck position resembles a ball with the knees bent and the legs pulled as close to the body as possible. Each hand should grasp the leg on the shin, midway between the knee and the ankle. The toes should be pointed and the legs kept together as the diver goes off the board.

Diving: Free Position

Zhou Luxin
Chinese Diver Zhou Luxin. Al Bello/Getty Images

Used exclusively in twisting dives, the free position is a combination of straight, pike or tuck. At all times during the free position, the legs must be together with the toes pointed.

The difficulty of a dive is the basis for rating it competitively. When a diver makes entry into the water, his or her body must be straight which is another factor that goes into determining the score. 

The way in which the diver performs underwater is just as important. Once underwater, he can roll or scoop in the same direction as the dive, rotating to pull the legs into a vertical position. For safety, it is important for a diver to roll in the direction of rotation to avoid hyperextension. 

Diving with a Twist

 Adding a twist to a dive is breathtaking to watch when it is done correctly. Divers can also add somersaults to add the "wow" factor to a presentation. They are also more challenging to perform and can enable a diver to score more points. 

When a diver does a twist, the twist cannot be "generated manifestly on take-off," according to the rules. Divers have to use angular movement to lead into the twist. 

In other words, when the diver leaves the board, the angular momentum vector is horizontal. The body then must be tilted sideways after taking off so a part of the horizontal angular momentum vector is along the body's long axis. 

Interestingly, a diver's arms play a huge role in the tilt. They are usually stretched out to the sides of his or her body prior to the twist. Then one arm is moved up and the other down, which forms the basis of the twist. The body then tilts to the side, opening up for the rotation motion to begin. 

Once a specific amount of twists intended are complete, the arm motion is reversed. this is what stops the body's rotational movement and helps it go straight -- and then into the water.