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Major factors influencing the ability of divers to perform nontwisting springboard dives of increasing degree of difficulty were investigated. The analysis was based upon 49 dives (42 in pike and 7 in tuck) executed by male and female medalists in the 1996 Olympics. Videotapes were digitized to determine competitors’ vertical velocities and angular momenta at the beginning of dive flight. Centripetal force and resultant joint torque models were used to estimate the effort needed to perform multiple somersaulting dives. Increasing degree of difficulty by spinning in a pike rather than a tuck position for the same number of somersaults was associated with decreased vertical velocity at the start of dive flight, decreased angular velocity while somersaulting in a quasi-rigid position, and little change in centripetal force or related muscular effort. Increasing degree of difficulty by adding a somersault while rotating in a tuck rather than a pike position involved increases in vertical and angular velocities, a smaller increase in angular momentum, and notable increases in resultant joint torque and centripetal force. Sufficient muscular torque to maintain a compact spinning position was considered to be the major additional challenge facing divers making the transition from a 21/2 pike to a 31/2 tuck.
D.I. Miller was formerly with the School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Univ. of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6A 3K7; E.J. Sprigings is with the College of Kinesiology, Univ. of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5C2.