Springboard and Platform Diving/Question about tucked positions
Although I don't dive myself, I enjoy watching diving a lot. I noticed during the Olympics that Hu Yadan was the only diver who did not split her knees while doing a tucked position . I've read that divers frequently split their knees during tucked to get a faster spin, and since judges can't see it, the imperfect form doesn't reduce their scores. So why would any top diver chose to not split their knees during the tuck (other than for aesthetic reasons, but I doubt that's why she doesn't do it) ?
I'll start the answer to this question by quoting from the FINA Diving Judging Manual. FINA is the international governing body for aquatic sports and oversees Olympic diving events.
TUCK POSITION: In a tuck position, the body shall be bent at the knees and hips with the feet together and toes pointed. The tuck shall be as compact as possible. When viewing the tuck from the side, the tuck shall be compact, that is, the front of the thighs close to the chest and the backs of the lower legs close to the back of the thighs.
Common errors committed by a diver when performing a dive in the tuck position include the following:
1. Split tuck. As in the pike position, this is usually done to either speed up the rotation or to assist in visual spotting. If the diver opens the knees and feet in the tuck, and the dive is not perceived to be aesthetically pleasing, the judge shall deduct 1/2 to 2 points.
Now that we have a definition, I can give you my opinion on split tucks:
1. Not all divers split their tucks because they are so small that they spin fast anyway. The diver you refer to is small and spins fast without a split tuck. She also looks better in this compact position and scores better because of it.
2. Larger divers split their tucks because they cannot spin as fast as smaller divers. It is the degree of the split that is important. If the diver keeps their feet together but the knees are apart inside the width of their own body then they are not going to get much of a deduction.It is when the knees and feet go outside the width of the divers body that largest deductions occur.
3. Divers also split their tucks to spot the water while they spin. This is more commonly done on dives that spin forward. They need to see the water at the first quarter of rotation to they know when to come out of the tuck. If done correctly, this split is undetectable by the judges.
4. Judges can see split tucks more on platform events than springboard because they need to look up at the diver. On 3 meter, the judge is elevated and looks more directly at the dive. The judges are also elevated on platform events but have to look up to see the start of the dive.This when the split is most apparent.
The question you have in the last sentence I believe is asked because you are viewing diving on TV where the camera angles show they dive from all points of the venue. You will see split tucks from an angle the judges do not have.Some divers are coached to split their tucks in hope that the judge does not see the error. Other divers are taught not to split but do it anyway.It depends on the diver and coach. As a judge I can tell you I do not deduct much for a split tuck. Other judges are very strict on this rule and therefore their score stands out as the lowest and is crossed out.
The real solution to this discrepancy is to have a judge placed in front of the platform or board holding a flag. If the diver splits the tuck, the judge holds up the flag and the referee would then instruct the judges to make a deduction. As the rule stands now, there is no judge at this position and therefore each judge makes the deduction themselves with no requirement from the ref. If they did have a judge in front of the takeoff point, I can tell that divers would stop splitting their tucks right away!