11 Diving Rules for Private Pools

CPSC Cautions Divers About Unsafe Diving in Residential Swimming Pools

Diving in residential pools is not a smart idea, and many areas have banned the use or sale of diving boards for private pools. The reasons: backyard pools are smaller and not as deep, so they don't give the diver enough room in front and on the sides to land safely in the water without hitting the board, pool edge, or bottom.

Diving injuries can result in quadriplegia - paralysis below the neck - to divers who hit the bottom or side of a swimming pool, according to the U.S. Consumer Product...MORE Safety Commission. It's also the leading sports-related cause of spinal cord injuries. More than 40 percent of spinal injuries caused by careless diving occur in backyard pools.

Most in-ground home and hotel pools, even those equipped with diving boards, are not really safe for diving. This is especially true for adult males, who are usually larger. The deep end in a residential or smaller motel or hotel pool is usually too shallow and short, and the diver can strike his head on the sloping surface of the pool that leads up toward the shallow end.

Divers should observe the following precautions:

  • 01 of 12

    Dive With Your Hands in Front of You

    woman diving into pool
    A woman dives into a pool. Dimitri Otis/Getty Images
    Always steer up immediately upon entering the water to avoid hitting the bottom or sides of the swimming pool.
  • 02 of 12

    Don't Dive From the Side of an Inground Swimming Pool

    boy dives into family pool
    Clueless: boy dives into pool as family watches. Hans Neleman/Getty Images

    If you must, or there is no diving board, then enter the water feet first, which would be jumping, not diving.

  • 03 of 12

    Dive Only From the End of the Diving Board

    woman dives into pool
    Woman dives from diving board into pool. David Madison/Getty Images

    Ideally, a diving board is in the safest place near the pool for practicing dives or jumps.  

  • 04 of 12

    Never Dive Into Above-Ground Pools

    doughboy pool
    Doughboy above-ground pool. Doughboy

    Above-ground swimming pools are too shallow for safe diving, regardless of how experienced the diver might be or how large the pool appears to be.

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  • 05 of 12

    Don't Dive if You Have Been Using Drugs or Alcohol

    guy drinks beer underwater
    Guy drinks bottle of beer underwater in pool. gilaxia/Getty Images

    Yes, that says dive, not drive -- although you shouldn't do either. Drinking alcohol or using drugs prior to or while diving could impair your reaction time, which may be too slow.

    Over half of diving injuries and deaths involve alcohol and/or drug use. Even small amounts can result in injury.


  • 06 of 12

    Never Dive Head-First Down a Slide

    head first down water slide
    Man dives head first down water slide into pool. Thomas Barwick/Getty Images
    Improper use of swimming pool slides can present the same danger as improper diving techniques. Never slide down head-first -- go down feet-first only.
  • 07 of 12

    Don't Dive or Jump Off a Roof or Building

    jumping from roof into pool
    Three guys jump from roof into a backyard pool. Trevor Smith/Getty Images

    We've all seen it done in movies or maybe even at parties -- a drunk frat boy or two decide to entertain everyone by jumping off the roof or balcony into the pool. Don't even think about it.

  • 08 of 12

    Avoid the Shallow End

    shallow end of pool
    Child peeks from edge of shallow end of pool. Thomas Lester/Getty Images

    Never dive into the shallow end of the pool. If you are unsure, find out from the homeowner or lifeguard on duty which end is the shallow, and ask about the depth.

    Look at the shape and length of the pool or waterfront bottom to be sure the diving area is large and deep enough for diving. A good rule of thumb: It should be twice your height to accomplish the whole dive.



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  • 09 of 12

    Wait: What's Shallow Water?

    shallow end of pool
    The shallow end of a swimming pool. eyetwist / kevin balluff/Getty Images

    While most pools don't have an entry depth of 18 inches, let's use that as a starting point for shallow water. Five feet is also considered shallow depth, especially as swimmers become older and bigger (from children to teens).  According to the Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention (FAIP), young swimmers should be taught to dive into a minimum depth of 5 feet from an early age, and more as they get older.

  • 10 of 12

    Don't Dive Through Toys

    guy jumps into pool toy
    Guy dives headfirst into pool toy. Thomas Barwick/Getty Images
    It may look fun, but diving through inflatable toys or inner tubes can be an invitation for disaster. You can misjudge your aim, and collide into the side of the pool, among other mishaps.


  • 11 of 12

    Take a Diving Class

    diving class
    Children learn diving in swimming class. Joos Mind/Getty Images

    Diving is a graceful and precise skill and sport. If you are interested, take classes through a reputable swimming organization.


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