Understanding Diving Etiquette

In the sport of diving, there are certain ways to behave that are appropriate, and others that are not. Understanding the difference is often as easy as practicing common courtesy. Although diving doesn’t have established etiquette rules, there are unwritten practices that divers generally follow. This guide contains a short synopsis of some of the more common etiquette practices that exist in the sport.

Practice Etiquette

Practice is a time for all team members to get on the boards, and work on their dives. Listed below are some areas to focus on at practice that will help you value your time and the time of others.


During warm-up, you may bounce on the trampoline or the diving boards before you get into the water. Make sure you are considerate of others during this time. This includes your teammates and other pool patrons.


Bounce on the trampoline and enjoy your time on it, but don’t take up the limited time your team is given. For example, run through a trial list — forward dive pike, back dive pike, front one and a half, and back one and a half.

Once you have finished, get off and let another person have their turn. Although seat wars and other trampoline games are fun, they are not appropriate when others are waiting for their turn.

Bouncing the Boards

A great way to test the board and warm-up your legs is to bounce the springboard before entering the water. Be sure when you do so, you are ready to enter the pool. This way, once you have bounced a few times you can dive, flip, or enter the pool any way you choose.

Make sure you are respectful to the people waiting in the line behind you and the other pool patrons. Don’t yell or cause a ruckus while bouncing. Keep it simple, get your legs warmed-up, and get in the water.

Balking in Practice

Balking, or the process of starting a dive and then stopping before performing it, can become a bad habit quickly. It’s very frustrating for both your coaches, and other divers who are waiting to use the boards. Balking wastes valuable time. Work hard to break a balking habit before it starts. To get a better understanding of this problem, take a look at our guide, The Problem with Balking in Diving.

New Dives

Learning a new dive can be a source of great anxiety. This anxiety may prevent a diver from having the courage to attempt new dives. Be aware of this. If you are afraid and/or unwilling to try the dive: Acknowledge this and step aside. Let other divers use the board while you gather your courage to attempt the dive. Once you are ready, step up to the board: Count to three, and go. If you are learning a dive in the Bubble machine, wait for the bubbles to rise before starting your dive.

Competition Etiquette

Many of the same rules for practice also apply to competition. Here are a few common etiquette rules for competition:


Just as in practice, make sure you respect others who want to use the diving boards during the warm-up period. Don’t waste time merely bouncing the board, or balking while attempting your dives. Divers only have a limited warm-up time before the competition starts. Make sure you perform your dive when it’s your turn, and respect the other competitors who are waiting behind you by not taking too much time.

Hot Tip: Getting a Call

If you need your coach to call you out of a dive during warm-up, make sure he/she is available on the pool deck. If they are not around, do not get up on the board and look for them. Either do another dive, do the dive without a call (you’ll need to in competition anyway), or let another diver go in front of you while you wait for your coach.


During the competition, make sure you are mindful of your noise level. Divers do not need silence when performing their dives — normal conversation with friends or family is fine — but loud noises will certainly distract the diver and judges. When a diver is on the board and ready to perform his/her dive, show that person the courtesy you would want.

Unwritten Rules

During competition, there are some common unwritten rules to keep in mind:

Backward Approach

When a diver is performing a backward approach — don’t stand in their line of sight. If you are the diver on call, either stand at the bottom of the ladder (3-meter or 10-meter), or to the side of the board (1-meter). This way your presence will not disrupt the performance of the diver.


When a diver is performing a dive, keep the area in front of the judges clear. Don’t cross in front of judges who are scoring, or announcers who are trying to read the scores.


No matter the score or the concerns you have with it, don’t yell rude or negative comments. Wait for an appropriate time after the competition and approach either your coach or the meet director with your concerns.

Ready to Perform

When your name is called to compete — be ready. You should have already talked to your coach, warmed-up, and ready to perform your dive.

Hot Tip: Don’t Wait Too Long

When it is your turn to perform in a competition, don’t wait too long on the board. When your name is called: Take a breath, mentally prepare for the dive, take your position, and go. If you wait too long, the judges will deduct from your score.

Award Ceremony Etiquette

After each competition, an award ceremony is held. Generally, the top 6 to 12 divers are awarded ribbons or medals for their performance.

Make sure that you are present at the awards ceremony; no matter how poorly you think you did. If you need to take a shower after you dive — either do so quickly, or wait until after the awards are given.

Additionally, make sure you congratulate your competitors. Perhaps it was your worst meet ever, but it may have been another person’s best. Genuinely congratulate them. Good sportsmanship will carry you a long way.

Conversely, don’t gloat if you won (or did exceedingly well). Be considerate towards others. Be proud of your performance, but don’t make someone else feel bad about theirs.

Be Considerate

When it is all said and done, diving etiquette is really a matter of being considerate. If you are respectful to yourself and others — in regard to both time and treatment — you will have no problem mastering the unwritten rules of diving etiquette.

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