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Author - Mr. P D Datta

The art of Judging is not only a question of having a good command of the FINA Handbook. In reality, the written
rules are the easiest part of judging. The difficulty lies in mastering the unwritten rules, and the psychological factors that influence a judge.
Note the following.

A judge needs a lot of practice. Firstly, most of the problems that occur during a diving contest are not described in the rules. The judging is almost entirely left to the private discernment of the judge. No written rule describes, for instance, thedifference between 6 and 7 points on a "normal" dive. The small diversities are completely dependent on the judge's own opinion. The written rules leave the written rules leave the decision almost completely to the judge. There is not a single rule that describes for instance,exactly what the judge should do. " Deduction 1 - 3 points ", for instance, leaves much space for private opinions. You can award both 6 and 8 points without breaking any rule. The same refers to the rules "max. 4.5 points" "deduction according to own judgement "and so on. Thus the whole judging system is based on the discernment and experience of the judge. And the judge can achieve that only by long and regular training. There is no other way to become a good judge.

Secondly, just as the diver must train his body, the judge must train his eyes. It is not sufficient to have a long experience and good judgement if you cannot see what is happening in the air. And the fine details cannot be grasped without regular training, especially considering the very complex and rapid movements in today's diving. Even the real experts lose their " diving eye " after a couple of months without contact with diving. Remember: The best judge in a contest is often the one who refrains from judging, the judge who says: " No, thank you. I have not watched enough
diving lately to be able to judge". That is a judge who respects diving and understands the importance of fairness in sport.

Beware of your prejudices! Every judge is affected by his pre-conceived opinions. But you have to neutralise them. Mostly, the judge over marks the favourites, " the stars " who have had great success in earlier contests. The judge expects to see a good dive, and therefore he believes that the dive is good. And a bad dive by the favourite seldom gets as low awards as a bad dive by an unknown diver.

But there are also other variants. A diver who performs badly with his first dives in the contest gives the judges the impression that he is out of shape. The judges expect to see further bad dives, and it is impossible for the diver to receive fair awards even if he performs better during the rest of the contest. The opposite is also seen: An unknown diver starts a contest brilliantly. The public and the judges give him their support. It seems that he is about to get his break-through. In that situation, it often happens that the judges expect the diver to continue to dive well, and he gets high points also if he performs badly. The same thing can happen in single dives. The judges know in advance that a
diver is an expert on a certain dive. Or: They have seen that a diver during practice has special difficulties with acertain dive. In these situations, it can easily happen that the judging of the dive is affected by the knowledge that the judge has in advance.

These prejudices often affect the judges unconsciously. It is important to be aware of the existence of prejudices and to ask oneself constantly " Do I judge the dive or the diver? Do I judge what I see or what I expect to see? "

The golden rule for each judge is to vary the judging. Use the whole scale from 0 to 10. Many judges are of the opinion that it is a merit not to get their marks deleted. In many contests, the opposite occurs: A good judge can be higher or lower than the rest and gets his mark deleted. A judge must have the courage to mark a big difference between good and bad dives, to raise the marks on good dives and lower his marks on bad dives. If you hesitate between 7.5 and 8, always give 8! Remember that the first round often is decisive if a contest is to be well judged or not. If one of the judges " breaks the ice " in the first round by giving 8 or 9 on a good dive, it gives the other judges the courage to give high points, on good dives during the remainder of the contest. Cautious judging in the first round often results in a " 4 - 7.5 contest ".

A judge must judge independently. If his mark differs from the others, he must - in principle - be convinced that he is the only one who is right. If he starts to adjust his marks to the others' he can easily lose the line and consistency in his judging. Of course, the necessity of independence is also important in relation to the public. Remember: You are the expert, not the public.

"I am the only one who is right " is the right attitude, but, as mentioned above, only in principle. Of course, judges make mistakes sometimes. It happens to every judge in every contest. The judge that asks himself: " How shall I be able to make up for the other divers in order to be consistent and air?" The answer is - Do not try to compensate by making the same mistake several times. Accept instead that you made a mistake. For instance, if you believe that your mark was too high on a twisted entry in the first round, do not try to give too high a mark on all twisted entries in the whole contest. In the long run, it is almost impossible to be consistent that way. After a few rounds you are back in your normal way of judging whether you want it or not. Biased judging is an offence against the concept of sports-man ship and fair competition. All divers, coaches, and judges agree on that. In spite of this, some judges strangely enough, elieve that they are entitled to give 0.5 point extra on each dive by their own fellow countrymen. Don't ever make that mistake: There is no "National Duty " to favour your "own" diver. It is a disgrace for you and your country. Other judges claim that it is their right to " respond " to biased judging. Don't make that mistake either! Even if you consider it a measure of "defense", you belong to the cheaters from the very moment you start to judge incorrectly. You are no longer entitled to criticise biased judging. You yourself belong to those who have betrayed the sport of diving.