To win dive meets, divers create a dive list in advance of the meet. To win the meet the diver must accumulate more points than other divers. Often, simple dives with low DDs will look good to spectators but will not win meets. The competitive diver will attempt the highest DD dives possible with which they can achieve consistent, high scores. If divers are scoring 8 or 9 on most dives, it may be a sign of their extreme skill, or it may be a sign that their dive list is not competitive, and they may lose the meet to a diver with higher DDs and lower scores.
In competition, divers must submit their lists beforehand, and once past a deadline (usually when the event is announced or shortly before it begins) they cannot change their dives. If they fail to perform the dive announced, even if they physically cannot execute the dive announced or if they perform a more difficult dive, they will receive a score of zero. Under exceptional circumstances, a redive may be granted, but these are exceedingly rare (usually for very young divers just learning how to compete, or if some event outside the diver's control has caused them to be unable to perform).
In the Olympics or other highly competitive meets, many divers will have nearly the same list of dives as their competitors. The importance for divers competing at this level is not so much the DD, but how they arrange their list. Once the more difficult rounds of dives begin it is important to lead off with a confident dive to build momentum. They also tend to put a very confident dive in front of a very difficult dive to ensure that they will have a good mentality for the difficult dive. Most divers have pre-dive and post-dive rituals that help them either maintain or regain focus. Coaches also play a role in this aspect of the sport. Many divers rely on their coaches to help keep their composure during the meet. In a large meet coaches are rarely allowed on the deck to talk to their athlete so it is common to see coaches using hand gestures to communicate.
There are some American meets which will allow changes of the position of the dive even after the dive has been announced immediately before execution, but these are an exception to the rules generally observed internationally.
Generally, NCAA rules allow for dives to be changed while the diver is on the board, but the diver must request the change directly after the dive is announced. This applies especially in cases where the wrong dive is announced. If the diver pauses during his or her hurdle to ask for a change of dive, it will be declared a balk and the change of dive will not be permitted.
Under FINA law, no dive may be changed after the deadline for the dive-sheet to be submitted (generally a period ranging from one hour to 24 hours, depending on the rulings made by the event organiser).
It is the diver's responsibility to ensure that the dive-sheet is filled in correctly, and also to correct the referee or announcer before the dive if they describe it incorrectly. If a dive is performed which is as submitted but not as (incorrectly) announced, it is declared failed and scores zero according to a strict reading of the FINA law. But in practice, a re-dive would usually be granted in these circumstances.
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