How to Build a Great Diving List

A diving list is a set of dives performed in competition. Lists vary from diver to diver, and change from competition to competition. A good diving list plays a significant part of any competition success.

In order to make your diving list the best it can be, it’s important to have a game plan. This includes thinking about what specific dives you will do and what order you will place them in. This guide is filled with tips on making the best diving list for you.

Number of Dives

Most diving competitions consist of 6 to 11 dives. This depends on the type of meet and the age groups involved. Here is a general breakdown of age group and senior diving requirements:

Age Group Diving

  • 11 & Under: Six dives for both boys and girls. Of the six, three dives are voluntary and three dives are optional. The required dives cannot exceed a combined degree of difficulty (DD) of 5.0 on 1-meter and 5.4 on 3-meter.
  • 12-13: Seven dives for both boys and girls. The first four dives are voluntary and cannot exceed a combined DD of 7.2 on 1-meter and 7.6 on 3-meter.
  • 14-15: Eight dives for girls and nine dives for boys. The first five dives are voluntary and cannot exceed a combined DD of 9.0 on 1-meter, and 9.5 on 3-meter.
  • 16-18: Ten dives for girls and eleven dives for boys. For both girls and boys, the first five voluntary dives cannot exceed a combined DD of 9.0 on 1-meter, and 9.5 on 3-meter.

Fun Fact

For older age group divers, the first five dives placed in their list are often referred to as the “9.5 list.”

Senior Diving

  • Men: Six optional dives in each event (1-meter, 3-meter, and 10-meter). Each diving list must have a minimum combined DD of 15.4 on the 1-meter, 16.8 on the 3-meter, and 16.3 on the 10-meter.
  • Women: Five optional dives in each event (1-meter, 3-meter, and 10-meter). Each diving list must have a minimum combined DD of 11.4 on the 1-meter, 13.1 on the 3-meter, and 13.2 on the 10-meter.

Required Dives vs. Optional Dives

For age group competitions, diving lists are broken into two groups: Required dives and optional dives. Required dives are the more basic dives in a list. Dives such as a forward dive or a back dive are considered required dives. These dives generally have a lower DD, and usually have a combined maximum DD requirement.

Optional dives are the more complicated and include multiple flips and twists. These dives have a higher DD. In senior diving, only optional dives are performed. Each diver must have a minimum combined DD on their optional list.

Required Dives

When there is a DD limit to the list of required dives, try to hit it exactly. However, you have to make sure you can compliment your optional list with dives that are of equal quality. For example, here is a typical 9.5 DD list on 3-meter for a 16-18 year old age group diver:

  1. 103 B: Forward 1 ½ pike, DD 1.7
  2. 201 B: Back dive pike, DD 1.8
  3. 301 B: Reverse dive pike, DD 1.8
  4. 403 B: Inward 1 ½ pike, DD 2.1
  5. 5132 D: Forward 1 ½ somersault, 1 twist free, DD 2.1
  6. Combined DD: 9.5

In order to have this list, you must make sure your optional dives are more difficult than your required dives. In other words, if your most difficult twister is a full twisting 1 ½, then you should place that dive in your optional list instead of your required list.

Hot Tip: DD Strategy

It is important to strategize your thinking when devising a diving list. Make sure you can have the highest DD possible, but also that your dives are consistent enough to ensure the best scores.


The scores you receive from the judges for each dive are multiplied by the DD of that dive. Thus, the higher the DD is, the more likely you are to earn a high score. However, this is not always the case. If you cannot perform a higher DD dive consistently, you’re better off trying a lower DD dive that you can do well.

For example, a 105 B (forward 2 ½ pike) on 3-meter has a DD of 2.4. A 105 C (forward 2 ½ tuck) on 3-meter has a DD of 2.2. If you can perform both of these dives, but will likely score higher in the tuck position: Choose the easier dive. A 2.2 dive that scores 7’s will receive an overall higher score than a 2.4 dive that scores 4’s and 5’s.

Order of Dives

Once you have determined what dives you’re going to perform, it’s time to determine the order you will place them in. This decision is personal, but should reflect the type of competition it is.

As a general rule, you should start and finish the competition strong. To accomplish this, place your two best dives as the first and last ones on your list. Leave your weaker dives in the middle.

This can, and should, change depending on the meet. In some competitions with many divers, there may be a cut after the first three dives. A cut reduces the number of competitors to the top 12-15 divers. In this case, you should place your three best dives (hopefully the ones with the highest DD) in the first three slots. This gives you the best chance of making the cut.

Importance of a List

Making a great diving list is both a personal effort and a collaborative one with your coach. You should always be working on more difficult dives to add to your repertoire. Once your consistency is there — and your coach feels you are ready — you should add new, harder dives.

Creating a competitive list will take time, work, and strategy. This process is not something to overlook. Take time to create the best list you can, and you will have more success in diving competitions as a result.

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