"STOP teaching people Buoyancy Control! - Allow them to learn instead" - Steve Prior PADI Course Director
Buoyancy Control - First things first
5 minutes? 10 minutes?
How long does it take a new Discover Scuba Diving student to swim happily around a swimming pool?
How fast is it before they discover that they can have fun underwater, all without any mention of Buoyancy Control?
Excitement, frisbees and torpedoes, take up their conscious mind while they soon learn to move around in circles.
These new divers build confidence swiftly. Each circuit, informs their subconscious the consequence of every body movement. They learn fast.
When an instructor allows that person the time to get comfortable and familiar in their new environment, the foundation for all future skills are being set.
Time to learn new skills.
It’s now time to introduce the first underwater skill of a PADI Open Water Course – Remove and replace a regulator.
How many of these new divers, do you think, would be happy to take out their regulator, blow bubbles and then clear it while swimming around?
By asking the student to stop diving, remove all air from the BCD and anchor themselves to the floor is unhelpful in so many ways.
The student is taking the course to learn to Scuba Dive, not to kneel on the bottom.
The confident divers are being held back.
The ones lacking in confidence are not yet ready to perform the skill. They need more time to relax while underwater. Asking them to perform the skill while kneeling won’t help their progression.
Trim and Buoyancy Control
For new divers to be able to swim easily, they need to be balanced.
If a diver is over weighted, it’s very difficult for them to get in a horizontal position.
Too much weight on the weight belt is compensated with air in the BCD. This causes the diver to be upright in the water and with the legs down, the fins tend to be ineffective.
Divers are then often seen to be using their arms in an attempt to move forward.
Divers wearing Shorty wetsuits also tend to be upright.
It’s important for divers to be balanced right from the start.
Student divers can be encouraged to get horizontal. In chapter one of the open water course, the students will have already seen the importance of trim. As they swim around, they can be given some extra weights with clips on.
As buddy teams, they can clip the weights to each other moving the weight around until they feel comfortable.
Of course it’s seen to be their decision, but you’ll find that nearly always, a kilo or two attached to the top of the cylinder will help with balance.
After the first session, weights can be arranged accordingly.
It’s so important that instructors concentrate on trim early in the development of new divers.
More complex skills
Some skills are more complex than others.
Let’s take Mask Clearing for an example.
There’s a lot to take in here. Allowing water into the mask, look upwards, breathe out from the nose, prevent air from escaping from the top of the mask.
All while trying to remember the sequence of when and where they should be to perform the skill.
Of course divers should be allowed to practice the whole sequence while on fin tips.
When they’re ready, then they can put it all together while swimming around.
Divers learn so fast when they’re allowed to learn!
How divers learn - video.
Here’s a short video I made in 2015.