This discussion is a result of judging errors that seem to
arise from the way people view dives. It will be an extension
of articles "Viewing Diving as a Judge" and "Task
Analysis" which can be seen on this web site. It is a
result of understanding that a judge must pay attention during
the performance of a dive in order to give a fair and impartial
If judging is considered a task, then there are four areas
under task analysis that must be correct in order to give
a performance the appropriate score (desired outcome). Those
areas include: Perception, Recognition, Decision, Reaction
A question, posed at a clinic for officials, was: "When
an error in judging occurs is it a matter of Perception and
Recognition or a matter of Ignorance and/or Inexperience in
applying the rules?" The answer was that it can be a
little of each depending on the judge. Hopefully the following
will clarify the answer to that question.
Everyone that sits on a panel for judging gives the appearance
that they are attentively watching a dive as it is being performed.
Their eyes seem to be looking at the diver as a dive is performed.
When the dive is over, they shuffle through the flash cards
and give their scores. This question arises, "How can
one or two of those judges show a score that is way out of
line from the others?" If one assumes that the eyes will
see whatever they are facing, then how can such large discrepancies
occur from one judge to another? A closer examination might
reveal the cause.
Perception encompasses the use of all the senses that make
us aware of our surroundings. For the purpose of this article
vision will be the sense discussed. The eye has the capability
of clear peripheral vision of 15 degrees side to side and
3 degrees up and down. As you stray further outside those
limits, things are not as clear. You get to a point where
movement can be discerned but one can not identify the cause
of that movement. Now imagine that the 3 and 15 degree clarity
is the frame of a picture viewed in diving and is within a
much larger frame that contains less discernable detail. This
larger frame could be 180 degrees or more side to side and
for the sake of argument 45 degrees up and down. (It may be
less for some since the curvature of the eye and bone structure
surrounding the orbit may limit this vision making those ranges
even smaller.) The more of the diver's body that falls outside
the smaller frame, the less detail there is of that picture.
3 degrees up and down is fairly narrow and might explain why
some will miss form breaks on dives. Not only is so much occurring
at one time but most form breaks occur in the up and down
plane of vision. That means most knee bends for dives like
Reverse and Back 1 1/2's pike occur on the way to the top
of the dive and may fall outside of our 3 degree clear picture.
This may also explain why judges' scores vary from one side
of the pool to the other. It is a lot easier to see form breaks
from a greater distance than it is up close.
Another related area is the ability to pay attention. In
the frames described above, where is your attention focused?
The best example for this would be the peripheral vision test
for a driver's license. If we focus on the dot in the test
device, we are taking our 3 by 15 degree picture frame and
focusing right in the middle of it. That picture becomes somewhat
obscured when our attention shifts to what is happening at
the extreme ends of our peripheral vision (45 by 180 degree
frame). This is why attention is so important to judges. You
must be able to focus your 3 by 15 degree picture frame at
a point around the diver's waist and be attentive to the edges
of that frame if you don't want to be one of those whose score
is way out of line. When you master the above visual technique,
most deficiencies will seem to jump out at you.
Seeing is a large part of judging but it is not the only
part. Understanding what is seen is just as important and
goes hand in hand with perception. This is called Recognition.
When the diver completes a dive, is it the dive that was announced?
Was it performed in the position announced? If it was a twisting
dive, did it finish facing the correct direction? Did it have
a form break? Was that break partial or complete? Are there
any other deductions that must be considered?
Once you have seen and understood the nuances of the dive
performed, a decision must be made. If you see a deficiency
but don't understand that there is a penalty or know what
the penalty is, your score will not reflect the appropriate
deduction. There may be more than one deduction on the same
dive. You must be fluent with the rules in order to carry
out the appropriate decision. Problems here can be due to
ignorance or inexperience. Ignorance can include not being
aware of or totally ignoring the rules. I believe that most
judging errors are due to a lack of experience or exposure
to judging. The current NFHSA rule book has one page devote
to judging diving that lists penalties and deductions. If
there are problems with judging, they appear to be more in
line with applying the rules to what is seen (practical application).
After all of the above has occurred, the response amounts
to flashing your score for the dive performed. This is the
easiest part of judging. Make sure the score you show is the
one you intended. Listen to the announced scores and make
sure yours is correct. This is also that part of judging that
demonstrates to everyone whether a judge may be deemed competent
or incompetent. The score you flash should be reflective of
the diver's performance. If it's not, then you have not achieved
the "desired outcome".
As you can see, judging is not an easy thing to do. You can
not sit on a judging panel in a comatose state. It is a constant
struggle to maintain attention and keep it focused on the
task you are asked to do. That task includes:
Listen to the dive as announced.
Judge the performance you see.
Apply all deductions and/or penalties.
Be fair an impartial.
Before accepting a position for judging during Championship
meets, it would be wise to practice the above ideas. Dual
meets are good for this purpose. Sitting behind an experienced
judge adds to the experience. After a contest or during the
breaks of a Championship meet ask questions of that person
if you found yourself giving different scores. It is a learning
experience that will improve your ability to judge.
Other related items
Coaches become irked when penalties or deductions are not
made. That means you may score a 6 when every other judge
has given a four. Most do not complain if your score falls
in the appropriate range. If one judge scores a 2 1/2 and
another scores 4, both would be correct scores for a partial
break in form (High School Rules). One would score harsher
than the other but both have recognized that there was a break
in form and that doesn't appear to happen with much consistency.
Some judges always seem to score high while others always
seem to score low. There are even some who give the same score
all the time. Wherever you begin scoring, don't change to
try to fit in. If you are high or low consistently, don't
adjust your scale until the beginning of the next round. Keep
the same range to be fair to the competitors.
During certain diving events, it seems that judges get into
a scoring rut. This rut is defined as a relatively small range
of scores used by the judges. A really good or bad dive should
be the reason for breaking out of that rut. Sometimes the
competition will force judges into that rut. The diving may
be such that all kinds of mistakes occur even by the better
divers. Just be consistent with your scores and be ready to
score the dive that may get you out of that rut.