Dive or not dive? Training an ideal movement or the ability to adapt?

Think about this. Imagine you’re a diver. You’re at training and you’ve begun your take-off routine on the board in preparation for a dive. But it doesn’t feel quite right. Do you stop and start again (also referred to as baulking)? Or do you push on?

The obvious reason for starting again is so that you practice to perfect each dive. However, bare in mind that during competition you are penalized for every dive that you baulk.

So, lets come back to the question. Should you baulk during training or are you better off practising the dive regardless of how you are feeling?

The Study

Sian Barris, Damian Farrow and Keith Davids observed the training program of five high-performance Australian divers. The aim of this study was to examine if any differences existed in movement kinematics during the preparation phases of baulked and completed take-off dives. This was captured using a single video camera during two training sessions.

The Findings

There were no observable differences in movement patterns or coordination between completed or baulked take-off dives. This raises the question of whether there is any reason to baulk a dive.

Take Home Message

This study showed that there were no performance advantages for elite divers baulking the dive. Yet, there are disadvantages to this behavior in competition (points deducted or ‘no-dive’ results).

The authors suggested that only practising dives with a good take-off might disadvantage divers in developing adaptive behaviours (i.e., being able to adapt the dive when not feeling quite right). Indeed, a focus on movement adaptability during training might be more beneficial than purely replicating an ideal movement.


Barris, S., Farrow, D., & Davids, K. (2013). Do the kinematics of a baulked take-off in springboard diving differ from those of a completed dive. Journal of sports sciences, 31(3), 305-313.

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