Everyone has experienced strengths and weaknesses with their water skills. Divemasters and Instructors need to be able to both demonstrate the PADI dive skills as well as executing them with an emphasis on quality.
Whether you are a novice diver or an experienced dive instructor, here are some useful tips and tricks to getting those elusive perfect scores.
Weight Belt Removal and Replacement Underwater
When I am doing demonstrations I like to be significantly overweighted. But when you take off your weight belt sometimes you start to float around a bit.
My cheat is to put only one small weight on my belt, and the rest go in my BCD. This way my BCD is weighing me down while my belt is basically for demonstration purposes only.
You can then show them not to hold the belt away from yourself and position it on your knee easily with no drifting. Once replaced, make a big show of adjusting the position of your belt and make sure your dump valve cords are not tucked into it.
BCD Removal and Replacement Underwater
Sometimes I get a bit tangled up during the replacement part. To make this skill look easy I start by facing my students and loosening my straps. I plant the tank firmly on the bottom and show them to keep control with their right hand.
The replacement part is where it gets harder. I kneel on my left leg and make a big show of putting my left arm in, turning to present my left side. I can then clearly show my left hand grabbing my tank as I bring it around.
As I push my tank behind me, I turn slowly (changing to kneel on the right leg) to show my right side. This allows me to fix any snags as I turn, and make a big show of putting my right arm (chicken wing style) through the right hole.
Then I can face them and do it up. Obviously ‘remember’ your console.
I am very much overweighted in confined water, so the test for proper weighting is a challenge for me.
What I do is leave just a little air in my BCD and take a really big breath instead of a normal one. I can then exhale a little to make myself float at eye level. No one has noticed yet.
End by demonstrating a complete exhale to show that you will sink.
While an experienced diver may not find this difficult it can make your students nervous. I always do this skill way too slowly, taking unnecessary time to adjust things and show the little bubbles as I exhale.
This lets them see that they won’t die if they take a little while to find everything.
You may wish to twist to show your right side (sit on your right knee) when grabbing for hoses to show clearly what your hand is doing.
Always hold on to their waistband or shoulder with your left hand and be prepared to help them if they panic.
Students, especially novices, can become a bit upset about water getting into their dive mask. With experienced scuba divers, I leave these skills until the end.
During my demonstrations, I take far more time than I need with my mask off. I show my water level, look around and play with my hair.
Show them that you can still breathe. I always grab the BCD waistband of my students, with my left hand anytime masks or power inflators are involved. This leaves my right hand free to grab dump valves if anyone panics.
Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA)
Remember they need to do it for a set distance, but you don’t have to in your demonstration. I only swim a short distance right in front of the students and ‘Remember’ the required distance which allows me to go much more slowly and be seen more easily.
I mime listening for the ‘aah’ sound when I'm most visible to the class. Your briefing and demonstration need to be especially slow as there is a lot going on.
I like to tell my students that most people mess it up and that I will be sincerely impressed if they get it right on the first try.
Demonstrate everything a lot more slowly than you think. I like to take even more time than that and point out common mistakes to show students that there is no need to hurry.
Your pre-dive briefing should be short because there is a lot of information to take in. Remember to let them know they can ask you to repeat demonstrations as many times as necessary, and that it is okay to make mistakes.
Have you already mastered the Divemaster skills? Leave some good advice for the next Divemaster in a Comment below!