Confined water lessons

that empowers your students

Empower your students

During your confined water lessons, you should empower your students.

What does this actually mean?

Empower your students? 
Oh come on! This is a scuba lesson! 

Not some sort of a spiritual retreat for self improvement!

Huh! Empower them? Whatever next?

Students need to listen, do what they’re told to do, and simply follow instructions.

Confined water lessons

Actually, I DO think that a confined water lesson is a bit like a spiritual retreat for self improvement. 
But I guess that’s more of a subject for later. 

For now, we’ll look more closely at how we can make our lessons more student centred

How we can involve our students in their own learning. 
Where they can make decisions through the lesson. 

Parts of a confined water lesson

We’ll go through each part of the lesson to see how each student can take ownership of their learning. 


I have other articles about giving a briefing in confined water
The article emphasises the need for the briefings to be interactive. 

But we can also see that by making the briefings interactive, it also gives empowerment to the learners. 

Each student is encouraged to visualise the steps of the skill that they have already completed.

For example, if the next lesson is:
Fully flood a mask, each student will have already partially flooded a mask.


Student involvement

The student can tell the instructor how they will let water into the mask. 

Some will describe one method, others another. That’s OK! 

Also each student will tell you where their hands will be while they’re looking up and blowing out through their nose. 

Some will put their hand on the mask, others will gently lift the sides.  It’s all OK! 

Allow them to learn.  If it doesn’t work out perfectly for them, they’ll try different ways.

Just never break the golden rule: 
“Never ask someone to do something that you don’t know that they can already do”

Who goes first?

During the briefing, give your students the freedom to tell you the order in which you ask them to do the skill.

All of your students will be different.
Some will prefer to watch others perform the skill before they try themselves.

Others will want to be very close to you the first time around.

Others will be uber confident and want to get on with it. 

All of this is OK. 

All the time, they’re telling you how they will perform the skill, and all the time they’re telling you in what order to teach them, they’re visualising the skill. 

It all adds up to a more positive outcome. 

confined water lessons


There’s not much we can do to make the demonstration student centred. 

Apart from ditching the:
“You watch ME!” signal.

I’ve always found that a bit arrogant!

Instead, simply get the students in line, and let them give you the OK signal when they’re ready for you to start the demonstration. 

That way you can be sure that their focus and their concentration is fully on the skill. 

It’s also the students choice if they want to see the skill a second time around, or if they just want to get on with it. 

Organisation of the lesson underwater

During confined water lessons, I prefer to ask my students to perform the skill while swimming around.

After all, the whole reason why they’re there is to learn how to scuba dive. 

Making sure that they’re ready to learn skills while diving is the subject of another article, but for now let’s imagine that we won’t ask our students to do something that we don’t already know that they can do. 

If I’m in a pool, I generally put down 4 weights on the bottom to form a square with about 2 metre sides. 

After the demonstration, the students swim around the weights, I’m placed at one corner. 

When each is ready, they’ll swim up to the instructor and perform the skill. 

They’ll either get feedback or congratulations, or a hint or tip on how it could be improved. 

The student then moves on around the square. 

While the instructor is ready for the next student.

All the time, certified assistants are being marshalls, giving support, praise and direction. 

Of course, if each student has only performed the skill once, they won’t be happy that they’ve mastered the skill. 

The confident ones will practice the skill time and time again while swimming around the square. 

The more nervous ones might wait untill they’re approaching the instructor again before they try a second time. 

Allowing the students to learn in their own way is very powerful. 

When they’re ready, they’ll tell you when they’re ready to move on.

Actually, after they’ve performed the skill a few times, they get a bit bored and want to know the next skill on the list.

Debriefing confined water lessons

The confined water lesson debriefing is just as interactive as all of the other parts of the confined water lesson. 

Follow the usual PADI debrief pattern, but involve the students by letting them explain to you the proper technique that corrected any issues that they encountered. 

Confined water lessons and empowerment

You might not agree with me (yet!) that confined water lessons can be similar to a spiritual retreat for self improvement.

Confidence and self esteem

However, when you make the lessons student centred, a lot happens.

The students gain confidence and self esteem.  In their personality as well as with the skills.

When they are empowered with their own learning, the confidence and self esteem doesn’t just stay in the pool, it enhances other areas of their life. 

Life Coaching

So you see? 
When someone comes to you to learn scuba diving, it can be much more life changing for them than simply learning how to clear a mask! 

How can you be a better PADI Professional?

Sign up now for my online PADI IDC Preparation Course. 
It’s full of new ideas about how to TEACH both theory and skills. 
Lots more information here: 

Last modified: 10th January 2023
Author: Steve Prior