The Benefits of Headfirst Entries in Diving

There are two ways to enter the water in springboard and platform diving: Headfirst and feet first. Both have high degree of difficulty options, and both include multiple flips and twists. However, if you are trying to decide which type of dive to perform, one choice is far superior in the world of competitive diving: Headfirst entries.

This guide contains the three reasons why headfirst entries will dominate their feet first counterparts every time!

1. Rip Entry

Entering the water in a headfirst position is always cleaner (less splash) than a feet first entry. The reasons for this are numerous:

The Flat-hand Grab

The flat-hand grab is a technique used in diving to create a rip entry. This is only possible when entering the water headfirst. The position of your arms, hands, and body in the flat-hand grab enables you to punch a hole in the water and enter without a splash. It is nearly impossible to “rip” a feet first entry. It can be done, but is very rare and inconsistent.

Arm Positioning

When entering the water headfirst, your arms are in front of your head. This arm positioning allows you to squeeze your ears tightly, thus eliminating any water from getting in between your arms. This will help create a smaller splash.

For a feet first entry, your arms are down by the sides of your body. The natural curves of your body and arms make it hard create a tight seal. There is a gap between the arms and body where water can enter, and thus create a splash.

Fun Fact:

Olympic and senior divers will exclusively use headfirst entries in their diving lists. A feet first dive won’t have the entry, the control, or the beauty of its headfirst counterpart. Elite divers know this and will choose a headfirst option every time.

Body Proportions

Arms and legs have different proportions: Arms are the smaller of the two. This difference in proportions affects a diver’s entry in three ways:

  1. Less splash: Smaller body parts entering the water means smaller splash.
  2. Get into position: Because there is less muscle mass in the arms than in the legs, it is easier for the body to get into the headfirst position. Additionally, arms are generally quicker than legs, and can thus get into the correct position faster and with less effort.
  3. Whip motion: For a feet first entry, a diver will generally need to make a “whip-like” motion with their lower torso to get into the upright position. This whipping motion can often cause the dive to be out of control, and therefore create a larger splash.

2. Consistency & Control

In general, headfirst dives give you a consistency factor that feet first dives don’t provide. There are two main reasons as to why this is true:

  1. Visible entry: When entering the water in a headfirst position, you can clearly see the water as you enter. A feet first entry often includes a blind exit out of the dive. You kick-out of the dive, hoping to be vertical and with the correct timing, but can often be slightly over- or under-rotated.
  2. Correction: A headfirst entry can be corrected with an underwater save. An underwater save is not possible for a feet first entry. To get a better understanding of what an underwater save is and how to do one, take a look at our guide How to Do an Underwater Save.

Fun Fact:

Although a forward triple pike (106B) has a DD of 2.8 on 3-meter, you will rarely see a diver choose this option. Instead, divers will often perform a forward 2 ½ somersault pike (105B) with a DD of 2.4, or a forward 3 ½ somersault tuck (107C) with a DD of 2.8. The reason for this is consistency: A forward triple has a blind exit, and it is much harder to get that coveted rip entry on a feet first dive.

3. Esthetics & Beauty

The third and final reason to choose a headfirst dive is simply a matter of beauty. Headfirst dives enter the water more gracefully, and have an appeal that feet first dives just don’t provide. This appeal is attributed not only to the cleaner entry, but also to the last impression the dive leaves on the viewer. On a headfirst dive, the last thing a judge or audience will see is your legs and toes. Pointed toes and straight legs simply look better (in the sport of diving) than a torso and head.

Forward Thinking

If you are currently performing a front double on the 1-meter, or an inward double on the 3-meter, you should give some serious consideration to tacking on an extra half somersault. Not only will this increase your DD, it will also increase your score and consistency.

Although there are two types of entries allowed in diving, there is really only one choice for serious competitive divers: Headfirst dives will beat feet first dives every time!

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