In The Hands of Judges (pt. 5 of 10)

Posted by Joseph Miller on

Regulations can sometimes be a dull subject, with loads of repetition and confusing terminology to those unfamiliar with the context. And that’s why you’re reading this article over a random one found in the results of a Google search. We’ve lightened it up and smoothed it out.

Dean Treml / Red Bull Content Pool

Dive Directive

At each competition, male cliff divers can perform up to 4 dives, each categorizing in a different dive style (those being front, back, reverse, inward, front twist, back twist, reverse twist, inward twist, and armstand dives). To compete in a series event, two dives are required and two are optional, all having equal weight on the overall score.

The two required dives must be from different takeoff positions (options include front, back, reverse, inward, and arm stand) and have a degree of difficulty of 3.6, a number computed by the High Diving Alliance Table.

The two optional dives must be in different dive styles than the two required jumps and assigned a degree of difficulty based upon the same system mentioned above.

Romina Amato / Red Bull Content Pool

Codify Competition

When athletes arrive to any of the wondrous competition locations, they have a day to warm up to the cliffs they’ll be sailing down for merit.

On day two, the first required dive is performed for judges and audiences. On day three, the second required dive and first optional dive are completed, leaving the top 8 divers to compete in descending order, based on their cumulative score thus far, on the fourth and final day.

Scoring Swoops

“Anytime you have judges, there will be controversy. The judges do a good job of being impartial, but there are times that mistakes are made. As a diver, you have to accept that as part of the sport.” – Andy Jones

The fate of cliff diving champions is left up to five judges at each competition, using their knowledge, experience, and intuition to best determine how well a dive was executed. The points are given in a range between 0 and 10, distributed in half point increments. The highest and lowest scores delivered by the judges are discarded, leaving the remaining points to be added and then multiplied by the degree of difficulty. Balks, or interruptions in movement after a diver presses before the dive, result in a 2-point deduction for the first balk, another 2 points for the second, and then deemed a “failed dive” for the third. After all dives are completed, the scores are added up and become the athlete’s representing number for that competition.

“The judge’s location is imperative for proper judging and should always be 10-15 meters above the water, perfectly in line with the side view of the platform, and 15 meters away from the point of entry.” – David Colturi

Sebas Romero / Red Bull Content Pool

Dean Treml / Red Bull Content Pool

For more of the nitty-gritty on scoring, visit the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series about page.



Part 1 - The History of Cliff Diving

Part 2 - The Men of USA Cliff Diving

Part 3 - The Evolution of Cliff Diving

Part 4 - Diving in Paradise


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