Red Bull Cliff Diving – Guide to different dives

There's more to diving than turning your body into a meat missile aimed at the Earth. Slip into your Speedos and prepare for our instant master class on the fine art of throwing oneself off a cliff.

Cliff diving can be bafflingly complex for non-cliff divers to understand, which is why we mere humans are often just reduced to gaping and pointing. And the fact it, all these superhero-like mid-air gymnastics take place in a maddeningly brief three seconds of freefall time. Now imagine having to judge each of these over-in-a-jiffy heats, assessing the take-off, the entry into the water, and the various incredible shapes that are thrown in between.

Well luckily you don't, but it's still nice to have some idea of just what in the name of Daley is going on (though even our Tom would probably be flabbergasted by the shenanigans of his cliff diving cousins). So, here we go. And to begin at the beginning, everything's grouped into six different classifications. These include the following...

The Front Group

Pretty self-explanatory, this. All the dives here involve leaping off the cliff facing forwards, rotating forwards. Don't scoff like it's easy. They're jumping off CLIFFS here.

The Back Group

As the more cunning and Sherlockian among readers will have guessed, this group involves divers taking off backwards – and rotating backwards. Yep, makes sense.

The Reverse Group

Ah, now this is where things start to get a little more complex. When competing in the Reverse Group, a diver will jump facing the water, as in a Front Group dive. But then, in a rather slick and stylish manoeuvre, they'll rotate backwards. Just put a cape on him and call him Batman.

The Inward Group

You wouldn't guess it from its completely unrelated-sounding name, but this is the exact opposite of the Reverse Group. So here the diver will jump backwards and then rotate forwards. If anything, this is an even more flamboyant thing to witness – the diving equivalent to cycling with no hands on the handlebars. Probably.

The Arm Stand Group

Since, you know, diving off a cliff isn't nerve-racking enough when you do it the conventional way, there's also a group for diving with your arms. Now this is proper showing-off type stuff, and is reliably gasp-inducing.

Oh, there's a sixth group as well – the Twist Group – which you will not be stunned to know involves twisting. But we'll look at twisting in a bit. First let's check out the various dive positions.

Straight

Think "diving" and this is probably the position that will come to mind first. It's the classic, textbook, if-you-had-to-draw-a-diver-this-is-what-they'd-be-doing diving position. The key thing is there shouldn't be any bend in the hips or knees. It's graceful and exhilarating – and that's just when you're watching it from the sofa.

Pike

Now this is a move that sorts the amateurs out from the pros, as somersaulting with your legs stuck out forwards like that is rather difficult. And that's why executing a perfect pike can lead to big rewards for the diver who can pull it off.

Tuck

Let's face it, this is the least flattering of dive positions, making even the finest-honed and serious-faced diver look like a kid pratting about at a water park. And admittedly it is one of the less difficult positions, it lends itself to easy (well, we say easy) somersaults. There's also a position known as "free", which – in another example of diving jargon doing exactly what it says on the tin – involves any combination of straight, pike and tuck positions.

But don't go considering yourself a master yet. There's yet more shapes to look out for during those fleeting seconds between the start of a dive and its splashy finish.

Twist

This is something any diver has to master if they want a shot at the big time. Employing all their core muscle strength, the diver rotates mid-plummet, for up to four revolutions. You'll be seeing a LOT of these, and such is the simple beauty of the move that it never gets old.

Barani

This rather exotic-sounding dive involves a somersault combined with a half twist. It basically looks pretty damn cool, and is another stark reminder of what painfully inactive slobs most of the rest of us are. It also gives the diver a good look at the water, making it a classic finishing move.

Flying position

A snapshot makes this look like a "Superman about to crash" position, but it's actually rather more complex than that. To fulfill a "fly", the diver completes at least one somersault in the straight position (see above) before either folding their body into a tuck or making their legs rigid for a perfect pike. Simple, right?

Interrupted position

Another hard one to get your head around without actually seeing it happen is this succession of moves, which involves a straight position, at least one somersault in the pike or tuck position, and then another somersault in a pike or tuck position. Like we say, you really need to see it. Luckily, there'll be ample chance to do just that.

Blind entry

As with the tuck, this looks a bit awkward to the untrained eye. Plummeting bum-first, the diver seems to come over a bit slapstick. Actually, it's a perfectly deliberate move which is called "blind" because the diver won't actually clap eyes on the water in the micro-seconds before entry.

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