What Makes a Good Diving Board
Over the past 60 years, the technological advances in diving board manufacturing have elevated performance levels throughout the sport. Boards are lighter, more flexible, and have more spring, which in turn, allows divers to complete more complicated flips and twists.
You may think a diving board is always just a diving board, but actually, there can be great variety in the weight, thickness, spring, and mount of the equipment.
Here’s a little bit more about what makes a good diving board:
Aluminum Diving Board
When diving boards were first created over 100 years ago, they were made from planks of solid wood that did not bend easily and or provide different levels of flexibility.
In 1949 Ray Rude, an aircraft engineer, created a diving board using aluminum from an aircraft wing panel. This new design gave the board more flexibility throughout the entire metal plane.
The aluminum board soared in popularity, prompting Rude to found his own company called the Duraflex International Corporation. Since the 1960s, this company has been the exclusive manufacturer of diving boards for all national, international and Olympic diving venues.
As a result, divers could not perform complicated tricks off the board for the simple reason that they could not get very high. In addition, water would often collect at the tip of the board causing divers to slip.
Diving boards remained about the same up until the 1940s. But in 1949, a man by the name of Ray Rude designed a diving board made from aluminum. Aluminum makes diving boards lighter and more flexible, providing divers with the ability to gain height off the board and perform more complex tricks. This remarkable new element had a profound impact on the sport of diving.
Diving Board Design
Board design has also changed over the years, thanks in large part to the introduction of the Maxiflex Model B. This board, more commonly referred to as the “cheeseboard,” due to the holes at its tip, has set the standard for diving board innovation.
Two distinctions set the Model B apart from rest:
- Perforations: The 189 holes at the tip of the Maxiflex Model B reduce air resistance, decrease the weight at the front tip of the diving board and eliminate any standing water that may exist.
- Width: Each part of the cheeseboard is a slightly different width; it is thickest in the middle (2 inches), slightly thinner towards the back end (1 3/8 inches), and thinnest at the front tip (7/8 inches). This distribution of weight allows the board to flex more easily, react to a diver’s body more proficiently, and provide varying degrees of spring in relation to the force from the diver.
The way the board is attached to the ground, via the diving stand, makes a huge difference in the quality of the equipment. The two most important parts of the diving stand are the hinges and the fulcrum.
The hinges connect the diving board to the stand, usually through bolts and screws placed in the middle or end of the diving board. The position of these hinges makes a huge difference in the amount of spring the board will allow.
Most residential diving boards are bolted directly to the diving stand by four hinges located in the middle of the board (two on each side), which reduces the ability for the board to flex.
In competitive diving, however, many stands have only two hinges that are located at the back of the diving board. This unique positioning allows the board to form a great arc when compressed by the diver’s weight, thereby providing divers with a higher trajectory off the board and the ability to complete more complex tricks.
A fulcrum is an adjustable wheel that sits under the diving board.It can be moved by the diver up to 24 inches from the mid-point of the board to either increase or decrease the level of flexibility in the board.
Adjusting the fulcrum to make the board as “springy” as possible is not always wise. In order to gain the most height off the board, a diver needs to press down on the board with his weight at the precise moment that the board flexes down as well. This technique is referred to as riding the board.
If placed properly, the fulcrum should glide smoothly forward and backward providing various degrees of spring. When the fulcrum is rolled closer to the tip, the board becomes stiffer and less bouncy. When it is rolled toward the back, the springboard is able to have a deeper arc when compressed creating a “springier” board.
A Good Board
A good diving board is one that bends to your weight and provides you with ample spring. But it also needs to be made out of the right material, placed on the stand properly and have a functioning fulcrum that adjusts to each diver’s size.
So the next time you are on a diving board, take a closer look. You will soon see that not all diving boards are created equal!