Talk Like a Diver: The Meanings Of Common Diving Slang

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

By Erin Keaveny, Swimming World Contributor

Part of learning to watch, or partake, in anything is learning the lingo. Like any other sport, diving has a language all its own.

It’s pretty easy to catch on to many of diving’s basic terms by watching meets, or spending time around the sport. There is even a Swimming World article from a few years back about the sport’s essential terminology.

What’s not always as easy to catch onto is diving slang, or terms used by coaches, divers, and commentators that aren’t self explanatory.

Here are twelve common diving slang terms and what they mean:

1. Twisters and Spinners

The difference between a twister and a spinner is the direction of rotation. A dive that only includes forward to backward vertical flipping is a spinner. A twister, which is its own dive category, has horizontal rotation as well.

A trick to tell the difference between them for someone who is not familiar with diving is that in a twister the diver will probably have one hand over their head and one across their chest. Another easy way is that if a dive is not a twister, it’s a spinner.

2. Gainer

It’s fairly common to call a reverse a gainer. This category of dives has a forward approach on the board, and backwards spinning motion in the air.

3. Bingo

At a meet, you might hear an announcer say, “seven, bingo!” This means that all of the judges gave the same score. It is simply a faster way to read scores, which can be an important time saver at meet lots of divers.

4. DD

DD is short for degree of difficulty, and it’s the reason why divers can potentially score more than 100 points on one dive.

At a meet, three judges award scores between one and ten. Those awards are added together to get the dive’s raw score. 30 would be a perfect raw score. That number is then multiplied by the DD for the dive total.

The DD system is why athletes strive to learn harder dives. As dives get harder the DD goes up. A dive list with big DD can be a real advantage in a meet.

5. Ride

Riding the board is the way that the end of a diver’s hurdle looks and feels. A good board ride takes a lot of patience, as the diver has to wait for the board to go down, and then jump off the board while it is on its way back up. This way, the board helps the diver jump higher, and the dive can be closer to the board. A good ride also requires that a diver stand tall, and know how to correctly time their arm circle and hurdle step.

Learning a hurdle with a constantly good ride takes a lot of practice and patience.

6. Hipping

Hipping a dive is something most commonly seen in gainers or reverses. It means that the diver started their rotation with their hips, and is incorrect form. In a proper reverse, the spinning motion is initiated through a good ride on the board, a tall jump, well timed arm swing, and strong core.

7. Crimp

A crimp is when a diver goes to perform a dive in the pike position, and bends their knees, especially during their takeoff. It is much easier to initiate a spinner in a tuck than a pike. Therefore, divers sometimes bend their knees at the beginning of a pike dive to start spinning faster. It is something that judges will take off points for.

Successfully performing a dive in pike without a crimp takes core strength and flexibility.

8. Ribbons or Bacon

When a diver smacks hard, sometimes a specific kind of bruise forms, fondly referred to as bacon or ribbons. The bruising from the water is often long, skinny, multicolored, and can resemble bacon, or ribbons, depending on who you ask. Sometimes it only lasts about a half hour, sometimes it lasts a few days, it depends on the smack.

9. Cowboy

When a diver is doing a dive in tuck, and they hold their legs about shoulder width apart from each other, that’s a cowboy. It’s not technically incorrect, and can help with visibility in a dive, but some coaches and judges find it ugly.

10. Wrap

A wrap is the way that divers initiate a twister. After a diver starts their spinning motion, their wrap is the way they move their arm to get into a twist. After their wrap, that’s when a diver has one hand above their head.

11. Square

A diver’s goal coming out of a twister is to be square. This means that their hips are parallel with the end of the board when they finish their dive, and into their entry. If a diver is square, their dive was not under or over twisted, and they came out of their twist in the perfect spot.

12. Hang Ten 

Think about surfing with this one. At the very end of a forward hurdle, divers want to jump off the end of the board, where their takeoff has the greatest height potential. If a diver goes just a little too far and their toes are hanging off the end of the board, that’s a hang ten.

It’s not something that’s technically wrong. Some divers hate this feeling, and while the might be able to get a good dive out of it would much rather have their full foot on the board. Other divers like to hang ten, and feel like they can grip the  end of the board with their toes.

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Author: Erin Keaveny

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Erin Keaveny is a senior diver at Villanova University. She is a history and political science double major who grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

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