To Balk or not to Balk

So…when it comes to 9-and-under boys diving in South Jersey, Alex dominates. In fact, for the past 2 years he has come in first in every single event he’s entered.

Except one.

These may be may favorite photos of all time:

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Last year, Alex placed 4th in the 3-meter championships. As you can see, he was not happy with the results.

Now…to make proper excuses, our pool does not have a 3-meter board, so Alex had only 2 practices at that height all summer. I’m certain the kids who placed ahead of him belonged to pools that had a 3-meter board.

This year is different. First off, Alex took dive lessons over the winter that included work on a 3-meter. Second, Alex had at least 6 practices this summer on a 3-meter board. But there is a downside to all that training.

Alex was lined up to do:

  • Forward dive tuck (degree of difficulty – 1.4)
  • Inward reverse tuck (degree of difficulty – 1.3)
  • Reverse dive tuck (degree of difficulty – 1.8)
  • Reverse somersault (degree of difficulty – 1.7) Also known as the “reverse sommy
  • Forward one and a half (degree of difficulty – 1.5)

The degree of difficulty (DD) is a major factor in your total score. Whatever scores the judges give you is multiplied by your DD. Alex’s dives were at a much higher DD than any other diver, which gave him a tremendous advantage. It means that even with average scores, Alex will crush every other diver.

Which meant that realistically, there are only 2 ways Alex could lose.

The first issue is Alex’s kryptonite. But Shani made sure we took care of that.

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So with that out of the way, it came down to the real threat: the balk.

Think back to when you were a kid and think back to jumping off the high dive. Think about how that felt. Getting up there and looking down at the water. That tingle in your belly as you psyched yourself up to jump. Were you scared? I sure was.

Ok, so now imagine getting up there to do a flip. Scarier? How about a back flip? Crazy, right? Well, how about you go off the board forward, and at the same time throw yourself into a back flip?

That’s the reverse sommy, and I can tell you that Alex has only once done it without balking. A balk is when you hesitate once you start your approach to the dive. If you balk, you get no points for your dive.

If Alex balked on the reverse sommy – zero points – and we’ve got a sad face again. It was his 4th dive. So here we go.

  • First dive – nice. Scored 4s and 5s.
  • Second dive – nice. 4s and 5s.
  • Third dive – gorgeous – and this with a 1.8 DD.

But then came the reverse sommy, and here’s where it gets heartbreaking. As a parent, it’s hard to figure out how to handle when your kid doesn’t succeed. And you can say all the right words about bravery and doing your best…but they don’t care. You’ve got devastation on your hands. I’m never sure how to handle…

Awww…I’m just messing with you. Alex nailed it.

No sign of a balk at all. And check this out…here’s dive #5.

And finally…here’s Alex on the winner’s podium. First place.

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Final note: Check out that kid to the right. That kid came in second – and a week from Saturday, he will go up against Alex in the 1-meter championships. He’s a gorgeous diver and such a sweet kid.

With any luck, the little shit will break his ankle over the next 10 days.

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3 thoughts on “To Balk or not to Balk

  1. Bob Gallagher

    Hey, Alex, once again we’re all so proud of you. Watching the videos of your dives is ALMOST as good as being there to see you win!

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