How to make diving look cooler!

The temperature crept up into double figures today meaning that I ventured out of the house in something less than a giant hoody and hat. As the seemingly perpetual winter starts to slide away I found myself thinking ahead to the Spring wardrobe sported by the average UK diver and wondering whether there could be a way for UK diving to be a bit ‘cooler’. My next thought was to realise that if you are wondering how to make something ‘cooler’ then you are immediately by default entirely the wrong person to attempt to make that happen. “Cool’ is effortless and natural. If you try to be cool you will fail. If you have a meeting to decide how to make something cooler you will make it much less so. If you use the word ‘cool’ you are not. However as the rest of my hair turns to grey I am not going to let this stop me…

Looking good

This is from the liveaboard collection and features undersuits with an almost legal requirement for being laundered. Note the stance, as if I have just finished my routine on the pole and the jealous onlooker in the background.

Now first off, in Winter, I don’t care, all bets are off, I just want to be warm so I will happily leave the house in all my undersuits complete with ancient Fourth Element hoody thrown over the top and whichever dive branded hat is currently languishing at the bottom of the stairs. I have been know to queue for the life preserving Costa Coffee at Reading services whilst fully zipped into my BARE SB suit with the faint must of drysuit sock wafting around me.

UK Diving Winter

Here I’m sporting an ensemble from the Winter/Fall collection. Notice the sailing jacket, over a decade old, half tucked into the drysuit complete with beanie hat, one size too small. Note also the stance, leaning slightly back with a casual hold on the spool I like to call ‘leisure grip’

But now Spring is approaching and we must all collectively think about how we want to portray ourselves as a group when the sun finally comes out. The first step in finding a solution is admitting you have a problem. Take a look through the following list and tick off the items you wear to find out how on-trend you are:

  • Fourth Element Hoody (bonus point if it’s old and says ‘Dive Team’ on it)
  • Branded Beanie
  • One of those Russian style wooly hats
  • A novelty hat (ie ‘hilarious’ jester’s hat)
  • Trousers that zip off at the knee (bonus points for having actually unzipped them)
  • Clogs (Add 10 points for Crocs)
  • Wrap around mirrored shades
  • A gilet
  • A northface style fleece
  • Those trainers that aren’t really trainers but aren’t walking boots either. Often brown.
  • A T-shirt with some kind of cartoon fish on it.
  • One of those dryrobe things that makes you look like a Jawa.

I can check off about 6 of those (no ones going to get me out of skinny jeans and converse, not yet anyway…) but I was thinking that perhaps it’s time to up my game. Specifically I’m thinking about the outfit Prince wears in the Purple Rain video. I believe that the extra time spent in the morning ensuring my cravat is just right will pay off simply by how much cooler I’ll look walking round the dive site. I’m going to be the Beau Brummel of UK diving, just you wait…

Purple Rain

Looking forward to greeting the candidates for the Spring IDC in this little number.

PADI Instructor Development Course in Gozo Malta Nov 1-8

This year join PADI Course Director and Tec IT Alex Griffin for a fun, modern and progressive instructor development course! Alex is one of the most active and qualified CDs in the UK and is responsible for most of the instructor development in the greater London area. Alex has been diving and teaching regularly in Malta for 15 years and brings a wealth of diving experience to the IDC.

On the course you’ll learn the following amongst many other things:

  • Use PADI teaching techniques in a low stress style to get the best from your students.
  • How to use technical diving skills to teach in a ‘tecreational style’. How to work with your students in neutral buoyancy and how to apply it to real world situations
  • You’ll get the chance to incorporate instructor specialities into the IDC itself and learn how to do the same with your students.
  • Most importantly how to have fun whilst teaching as no one learns to dive to have a bad time!

In addition to a standard IDC Alex offers an equipment and buoyancy precision diving techniques workshop as a free bonus. Also upon completion of the course you’ll also be able to complete a special offer self reliant instructor course that will teach you how to use and handle redundant gas, a great skill for all dive pros to have particularly when guiding deeper diving.


IDC: 1-8 Nov

IE: 9/10 Nov

Self Reliant and combined instructor program: Special IDC offer €200: 13/14 Nov


Gozo Aquasports:

Pre-requisites, course materials and recommended kit:

Please see here

Course Schedule:

The following is sample schedule for a typical IDC and may be subject to some minor changes.

  • Day 1: Course orientation, equipment workshop, buoyancy workshop
  • Day 2: Knowledge Development workshop and confined water skill circuit
  • Day 3: Confined water teaching presentations
  • Day 4: Open Water teaching presentations and instructor specialities
  • Day 5: Emergency First Response Instructor Course
  • Day 6: Confined Water teaching presentations and Rescue Workshop
  • Day 7: Classroom Presentations
  • Day 8: Open water workshops and instructor specialities

There are various options starting from around €25 euros per person per night based on 2 people sharing an apartment:


IDC (AI and OWSI): £850

Full IDC (AI OWSI, EFRI and MSDT specs): £1095

Self Reliant instructor: £200

Instructor Development Course Pre-requisites and Recommended Kit List

Here’s a bit of information about what’s required and what you need to bring to your IDC!


  • PADI Divemaster or equivalent
  • 100 Logged Dives
  • Current in date fit to dive medical
  • EFR training within last 2 years (or can incorporate into the Instructor Program)

Required PADI Materials:

  • IDC Crewpack
  • EFR Instructor Manual
  • Student Level materials (special available on digital products)
  • A laptop and or tablet. Please ensure you have downloaded the PADI app and the PADI Library App.
  • Please ensure you can log into the PADI Pros site and that you have downloaded the most up to date version of the Instructor Manual
  • Not required but highly recommended: Complete the PADI Dive Theory e-learning module.

Required Kit (All kit must be serviced and in good working order)

  • Regulator including primary and octopus on 100cm hose with SPG or transmitter and LP feeds for BCD and drysuit if required. Long hose set up with necklaced backup is also fine.
  • BCD or Wing system. If using a wing system there should be some form of break in the harness that allows you to remove and replace it easily.
  • Dive Computer
  • Mask and Snorkel. The snorkel does not have to be worn but must be easily attached to the mask when required.
  • Adequate exposure protection. Whilst shorties are fine, full suits are much more preferable even for confined water work as they assist in hovering in horizontal trim. Also for working in ‘confined open water’ shorties rarely provide enough warmth. A drysuit is the best bet for open water and preferably should have at least one pocket.
  • Boots and fins. I won’t cry if you turn up in split fins but my bottom lip will probably tremble.
  • Red SMB and spool/reel. My recommendation is a finger reel and oral inflation SMB
  • A simple clip for attaching slates to the harness. I recommend a stainless-steel double-ended bolt-snap (this will become clear on the course)! Please try to steer clear of curly lanyards and retractors as they do have a tendency to get tangled.
  • A Pocket Mask
  • A slate and pencil, wetnotes are a definite plus
  • A compass
  • Spares: Mask, fin straps, mouthpieces, bungee and cable ties!

For any help or advice on the above please do contact me so I can point you in the right direction!

How to become a PADI Tec Deep Instructor

Have you ever considered going pro with your tec diving? The PADI Tec Deep Instructor program allows you to teach tec programs all the way up to PADI Tec 50. At the Londonidc we run regular Tec instructor programs with PADI Tec Instructor Trainer Alex Griffin, where you’ll get the opportunity to assist on real courses and gain experience too. There is also the Tec Instructor rating which allows you to teach the Tec 40 program and is a great entry point to technical instruction, read on to find out more of what’s involved:

Course and Application Pre-requisites:

To begin the Tec Instructor Program you need to be

  • Tec 45 or equivalent student level.
  • Be a PADI deep and nitrox speciality instructor
  • Have a 100 logged dives (20 nitrox, 25 deeper than 18m, 15 deeper than 30m).

To then qualify as a Tec Instructor you will need the following:

  • Have 20 staged deco dives (these don’t have to be met before starting the tec instructor program but do need to be met before putting in the application).

For Tec Deep Instructor you also need to have the following levels before starting the course:

  • Tec 50 or equivalent student level

Before putting in the application you also need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be a PADI MSDT or higher
  • 270 logged dives with at least 25 staged deco dives below 40m
  • Have certified at least 10 nitrox and deep student level divers (can be a combination of both)

What’s involved:

The course takes 5 days to complete. It roughly breaks down as follows:

Day 1: Theory, kit set up

Day 2: 2 x Skills dives and practical applications

Day 3: Simulated deco dive and full deco dive

Day 4: Simulated deco dive and full deco dive

Day 5: ‘Mini Instructor Exam’

During the course you will go through the tec skill circuit, working on demoing key skills like shutdowns, NOTOX , gas sharing and SMB deployment. You’ll also complete practical exercises in planning technical diving using both manual planning and deco software. During the Mini IE you will be evaluated on several key skills and you will also teach a series of skills in a similar manner to the PADI IDC.

The Tec Instructor program takes 3-4 days to complete, following a similar outline


We can run the course anywhere we have access to deep enough water, in the UK, I tend to use Wraysbury, Vobster and NDAC. The course can be run as a stand alone course or run alongside existing student level tec courses although we need at least one day dedicated to the course for the mini IE.


The course costs £200 per day excluding the following

  • Course Materials: (currently approx £60)
  • Equipment hire
  • Gas fills
  • Applications to PADI
  • Dive centre costs or dive site entrances
  • Travel


I will be running a program in 2018 from the 6-10 June. For more details or to sign up, please let me know!

How to skilfully demonstrate skills….

you love me

One question that regularly comes up on IDCs is to do with skills and how they should be done. As any good instructor knows, the key point to remember is the performance requirement, there is no standard ‘PADI way’ or signal for a given skill. It’s also very important to understand the difference between getting it wrong vs the way you like things done. As an example, you might prefer holding BCD straps to a ‘roman handshake’ during an out of gas drill but both are fine (in fact one may be better than the other and vice versa dependent on gear set up etc). There’s also no problem with a dive centre establishing a consistent way of performing skills through their DM and IDC programs but it’s also important to understand that doesn’t make their way, the right way either.

Because I work with candidates from multiple centres on the same IDC, my philosophy is that I don’t set out to attempt to mould candidates in my image. I’d much rather they got on with doing skills their way, with me occasionally pointing out some improvements or tweaks along the way.

One of the nice things about this way of working is that I get to learn different methods for skills too. Fortunately my ego is no longer as fragile as it was (seemingly directly proportionate to the greying of my hair) and I no longer panic when someone does a skill better than me. In fact I’m usually quite open about my intention to nick someone else’s method when I like it!

Having said all of this, I do have a preference for the general way skills are done (yes, my preference but also, obviously, the right way). Here’s my guide to all things skill related:

  1. Poncing About. Lots of instructors love poncing about. I do not. Poncing about involves loads of wind-milling arms, theatrical flourishes and invitations to everyone in the surrounding vicinity to ‘LOOK AT ME, ME, THE INSTRUCTOR, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME NOW BECAUSE I AM ABOUT TO BRING THE SHIT WITH THIS SKILL’. I don’t mind a quick ‘look at me’ signal, I do it, it helps get me in the zone to do my demo but just get it over with and then do the skill. Just please, do the skill.
  2. Concentrate on the critical attributes: If you want to clear a mask, then basically you need to put some pressure on the top of the frame (any which way you like), look up and exhale through your nose. If you do that slowly and clearly, that’s pretty much a 5 as far as I’m concerned. Throwing in lots of stuff to show what you shouldn’t do doesn’t really add anything. Also don’t go through a slow and loving piece of theatre about everything that you are about to do and then fail to clear the mask in one go, or finish with one lens still with an inch of water in the bottom. Even Brando couldn’t save himself from a 4 with that.
  3. Be Quiet: Please, please don’t start every skill by doing that thing where you punch your palm with an open fist repeatedly. I realise that when people aren’t actually looking at you it’s a great way to get their attention, but when they are, it’s a bit like snapping your fingers in their face like a sassy drag queen from an 80s movie starring Andrew McCarthy.
  4. Dumping gas: Don’t start every skill by whirling your fingers at the top of the BC hose to show you have dumped all your gas. It’s not a performance requirement to do every skill whilst heavily negative. Whilst in real teaching scenarios kneeling on the bottom of the pool will help in some skills, it doesn’t require you to be negative during your demos.
  5. Lose the numbers: Some skills may benefit from a series of steps broken down by number as in step 1: Do this, step 2: Do this etc. But most don’t. Sometimes the sheer volume of hand signals being produced completely eclipses the skill and it all becomes a confused blur of sign language. Remember, just do it slowly and clearly.
  6. Be decisive. Often one of the big differences between a score of 4 or 5 is simply down to the confidence with which the hand signals are deployed. We’ve all been there, when your hand extends only to discover that it’s intent has been forgotten. Try to make sure your hand signals are confident and clear. Avoid the tentative hand slowly extending and producing a limp apology of a signal, it looks like an elderly vicar trying to break up an orgy. A good method is to practice your hand signals for skills in front of the mirror. I often video skills on the IDC too which allow you to see how you’re getting on so we can work on ways to improve.
  7. Don’t sweat it: When all’s said and done, you can do these skills. If you couldn’t you probably shouldn’t have got through your open water course! The best thing you can do is just slow down, relax and do the skill slowly. If you do that, you’re pretty much guaranteed at least a 4. If you then just throw in some clear signals that emphasise the critical steps, there’s your 5.

Of course, the next person you talk to will contradict everything I’ve just said but then that’s what makes it all so interesting. Obviously I’m right though. Obviously.

Hard working recreational diving instructors are the unsung heroes of the UK diving industry.

Bonus points for spotting the reference…

I remember when I was first thinking about becoming a diving instructor, which was pretty much as soon as I came up from the last dive of my advanced course, it seemed like one of the coolest professions it might be possible to have. At the time, tec diving was still a tiny niche area and the heroes of the scene were people like Mark Ellyatt who were doing immensely deep dives on open circuit. It was epic but hardly the kind of thing that was aspirational to your average recreational diver.

Fast forward 15 odd years and the landscape has changed. Tec diving has become much more accessible and popular but it’s aspirations have changed as well. No longer are the deep divers held up as heroes (albeit slightly bonkers ones), witness the outpouring of unpleasant schadenfreude after the death of ‘Doc Deep’ a couple of years ago. Nowadays tec diving has become fixated upon technique with the result that our current heroes are held in high regard because of their ability to hover without twitching an arse muscle instead of their achievements and accomplishments. I’ve already ranted about this more than enough times already

The upshot of this is that becoming a recreational instructor is not always seen as the top of the tree. It also occasionally seems there is a degree of snobbery aimed at recreational scuba instructors mainly centred round things like kit configurations, perceived lack of personal skill or lack of skill demonstrated by their students.

I believe this is because, as an industry, we have pitched tec diving as if it is a superior activity to pro-level recreational courses when in actual fact they’re just different. I don’t really care how many amazing deep dives you’ve done on CCR, it won’t make you a good diving instructor.

As an example, whatever someone might want you to think, teaching DSDs is not an easy task that anyone can do. Meeting minimum standards might be straightforward, but actually making a DSD enjoyable and safe takes an immense amount of skill and work, very little of which has to do with looking good in the water. In fact, if you spend time worrying about how you look, instead of looking at your students, you’re probably at risk of being distracted if a problem does arise. When you think that for many people a DSD is their first diving experience and the make or break over whether that person will continue diving, then it quickly becomes clear that instructor ego and a fixation on skill perfection is a toxic combination unlikely to do the DSD candidate or the industry any favours.

In fact, I’d go as far as saying that a lot of instructor trainers and tec instructors (me included) would probably soil themselves in terror at the prospect of taking 5 people through an open water course now. That’s because we’ve been spoiled by only dealing with customers who have their own kit and already know what they’re doing (most of the time..). This means we get to sit in our ivory towers bollocking on about horizontal trim when we don’t actually have to get a group of open water students through 2 dives in rented drysuits in cold water and then drive a van full of kit all the way back to the centre, unload it and sort paperwork before we finally get to drive home, often all for the love of it.

Last week I was at NDAC doing a tec instructor program. On the Sunday I watched an instructor with a big group of Advanced students running through his briefings. He had 3 dives to do (always a challenge with the van runs at NDAC) but he was funny and engaging and his students were clearly having a good time. On top of all this, he’d somehow found the time to be wearing a Pokemon costume over his drysuit for Halloween which his students also loved and at the end of the day I saw them all laughing and joking over paperwork.

I wasn’t in the water with them but all thing being equal, to me, that’s the true sign of good instructor and also a reminder of just how challenging and rewarding it can be.

Tec diving is a brilliant next step for a diver wanting to continue their education but it’s not always the best thing to rush straight into either. I see lots of divers who might otherwise have chosen to progress down the DM and Instructor path now choose the tec path instead. This is all well and good but I can categorically state that divers who have attained at least DM level almost always have a greater level of skill and comfort in the water than those who haven’t. It’s also true to say that whilst DMs and Instructors will regularly continue onto tec diving, which I think is great because it gives them a diving activity that’s just for their enjoyment, it’s rare for tec divers to come back and do DM or instructor, which is often a great shame.

Becoming a recreational diving instructor is an incredible achievement and being a good diving instructor takes a rare combination of skills of which in water prowess is only a part. Don’t let anyone let you forget that!

PADI IDC skill circuit in London

Yesterday I started an instructor development course at Aquanaut in South London with a staff instructor course beginning too. We had a great day in the classroom and then a skill circuit in the pool in the evening. Gary and AJ did a great job running through skills with Rich evaluating!

Why you should treat your PADI Instructor Development Course like a delicious sandwich…

sub sandwich

How many of you out there have heard of ‘Goldilocks pricing strategies’? It’s where you do the whole bronze silver and gold thing in an attempt to at drive people to the silver option (it’s not too hot and not too cold, geddit). It’s a system that works well but personally I find the whole bronze-gold terminology a bit lame. It’s also really, really hard to come up with alternatives (I was playing around with something to do with playing your IDC on a legendary setting but then realised that was lame too). The other issue is that there are so many ways of putting together an IDC that having three options doesn’t really do it justice.

So instead I want you to think about your IDC like a delicious subway sandwich (OK, I know it’s mainly processed facemeat on cheap bread but bear with me here):

What I want you to do is look at the basic IDC of AI, OWSI and EFRI as the standard sub: Bread and some fillings. If it’s a good IDC it will have some cheese too. My IDCs always come with cheese, in more ways than one.

The trouble is, that basic sandwich is only going to be so fulfilling depending on whether it’s a light lunch or a life sustaining source of fuel for a big night out. If that’s the case you’re going to want to add some delicious toppings, a tasty sauce, maybe get it toasted and if you’re really hungry you’re going to need it a footlong too.

Your IDC is kind of similar too, if you’re wanting to become a great instructor who’s good in the water and super employable, you’re going to need to add some stuff to the basic setup. For example, if you want to teach in the UK you really do kind of need your drysuit spec. And you’re going to need that straight away and you’re going to want to do it with me because I am going to really show you the tips and tricks for not only effectively diving a drysuit but how you pass those tips onto your students too. Then you can go forth and create your own legion of super slick drysuit divers, not a hoard of over-weighted Michelin men riding invisible underwater unicycles.

When you book your IDC with the London IDC we want to know what your plans as an instructor are, that way we can tailor make the IDC to suit your needs. Are you going to be working in the UK or abroad? Are you going to be part-time or full time, what are your personal diving interests. All of this can help us put the right package together for you.

So here are a series of tasty treats that you can choose to add to your IDC when booking it. You can have some, none or all of them which will get you a special overall price for doing that too. The idea is you can build the IDC that suits your needs (hopefully any eagle eyed instructors will also have spotted the contact, value and application to the current level of training in those opening paragraphs too. BOOOOOOOOOMMMM):

  • BASIC IDC (including AI, OWSI and EFRI): £1095
  • Speciality Ratings: £100 each
  • MSDT Package of 5 specs: £500 (including Drysuit, Wreck, Deep, Nitrox and S&R). Wreck and Deep can be run at the UK coast giving you hands on experience of teaching techniques at sea and from boats as well as introducing you to Chris Webb and the team at Mutiny Divers who can help you facilitate your own teaching weekends at the coast. As an added bonus for signing up for the 5 specs you’ll also be to do the following 3 specs free of charge: SMB, Nav and Equipment and in addition you’ll be able to get 5 speciality applications to PADI for the price of 4.
  • Self reliant student/instructor level: £300 This course goes into a great level of detail regarding gas management, carrying redundant gas, dive planning and self rescue which are all extremely important for a working instructor. I cannot recommend this course highly enough to new instructors. It will help you teach other courses like the dive planning segments of Open Water and the ‘Thinking like a diver’ sections of the Advanced. It also helps you meet the requirements for carrying redundant gas when diving in cold and/or deep water.
  • O2 Provider: £75. This speciality is incorporated in the EFR Instructor course and subsequently you will be able to add this into your rescue programs, which adds value and extra certifications for you.
  • Night Diver: £100. This can be run either at Wraysbury or at the UK coast during the summer and is a fun added bolt on.
  • PADI Digital Products Suite: Get 5 new touch products from PADI when you sign up to an IDC with me for only £90, a massive saving of £137. Digital products are definitely the future of the industry so having and understanding how they work is crucial for a diving instructor
  • PADI Business of Diving Course: £150. An essential extra days worth of training invaluable to any UK based instructor and also in particular very useful for anyone looking to develop a scuba diving business whether part-time or full time. The course covers all the HSE requirements of UK dive training as well as covering many basic business principles.
  • IDC/IE Prep: £150. An extra day either before or after the IDC where you’ll be able to practice any areas that you feel you would like to work on. These can be done in the classroom, open or confined water and can cover any areas that you would like from dive theory and knowledge presentations to confined water skills or open water teaching.

The total value of all these courses (excluding the PADI digital products which is a payment made directly to PADI and also the night diver which is offered on a seasonal basis) comes to £2,270. If you sign up to the whole thing (as in get your sandwich ‘with the lot’) the discounted price is £2000. In addition you’ll receive £50 off a Tec course if you would like to start down that road too!

In total you’ll receive over £500 worth of courses and savings by signing up for your IDC ‘with the lot’.

For the latest IDC dates, please look at the calendar or drop us a line directly. Now go enjoy your sandwich, mine’s a subway melt on honey-oat bread with southwest sauce.


The tricky question of neutral buoyancy and teaching….

Undersea Girl

Undersea girl is severely chastised for her poor trim and excessive weighting…

One area that has raised a few tricky questions over the last year has been the subject of neutral buoyancy, particularly in the context of teaching. This has caused a few problems mainly down to what I believe is a little bit of a misunderstanding of the intent. I’ve had discussions with people that have asked me why PADI have changed the rules and can’t see the benefit of this, all the way through to people getting a little over zealous in their approach and treating confined water dive one like a Tec 40 skill circuit.

Amidst all the loud shouting on the internet and the current climate of fear, where people are afraid to post pictures of divers having fun in case the Trim Police or the Sidemount Stasi come out to castigate them on enjoying themselves instead of ensuring their tanks are perfectly aligned, I thought it might be handy to have a little summary of what, in my opinion, this all means in practical terms for a working instructor:

The new Open Water Course has the following performance requirements in confined water, specifically related to hovering and trim:

  • Hover using buoyancy control for at least 30 seconds, without kicking or sculling.
  • While neutrally buoyant, swim slowly in a horizontal position to determine trim. Adjust trim, as feasible, for a normal swimming position.

Everything else that follows is simply related to these skills. Notice that nowhere do the performance requirements state that hovering should be performed in flat ‘tec diver’ style trim, but by the same count, notice that neither do they mention the Buddha position….

This is because all the Buddha position stuff is just a training technique, not a PADI method or ‘official’ version of the skill, anymore than hovering horizontally is. If you teach either of these techniques you will be meeting the first performance requirement above. However only the horizontal hover will help with meeting the second performance requirement.

Whatever your viewpoints on the best way to teach hovering, I think you will struggle to argue that a correctly weighted diver in a horizontal position has less control than a diver hovering in a Buddha position, a position that has no application to the real world.

Rather than just accepting the way your instructor taught you and their instructor taught them, all PADI is doing is encouraging us to look at our teaching techniques and see whether there might be a fresher more modern approach to meeting the performance requirements.

One point that has been raised in the context of the hovering skill is the ‘without kicking or sculling’ part of the performance requirement. This doesn’t mean hovering without twitching a butt cheek, it means arm or leg movements that are clearly being used instead of buoyancy control. Some gentle movement of the fins to help keep the legs in place behind the diver when they are clearly neutrally buoyant is perfectly acceptable and infinitely more desirable than someone cross-legged floating upside down holding their fins…..

So what’s the real world lesson here? First off let’s look at trim: Describing it as ‘tec diver’ style trim is already a bit of a red herring. Being in a horizontal position, head up, legs in line with your back, knees bent and frog kicking for propulsion is pretty much the best position for any diver to be in (strong currents etc not withstanding). I don’t believe there is anything wrong in positioning this as the goal and ideal for new divers coming into the sport all the way through to instructors and divemasters. However, do I believe that being able to hover like this makes you a good instructor? No. Do I believe that new divers must be able to dive like this to have fun and engage with Scuba? No. Do I believe that some instructors become overly fixated on technique and forget that most people sign up to diving courses so they can have fun and see fish? Yes.

Like everything, experience and judgement comes into play here. As an instructor, your goal should be to dive in trim so as to set a good role model example and you should endeavour to teach your students to maintain good buoyancy and to also dive, correctly weighted, in horizontal trim. I have a short clip here with some tips on how to hover horizontally and how to help your students too.

However as dive professionals you’ll also need to deal with all the vagaries of teaching in the real world, pool time and space, differing student abilities, poorer visibility, cold water, drysuits etc. it’s down to you, to do your best with what you have. If you have loads of space then it’s a great idea to have all your students hovering horizontally in a circle however if it’s a busy pool session it’s probably not very considerate if they’re all kicking everyone else in the head. In practical terms you’ll find that some people will engage with buoyancy easily and you’ll be able to have them hovering whilst completing skills whereas others will really struggle and simply getting them to understand and demonstrate neutral buoyancy will be a challenge.

The one most important thing you can do that doesn’t take up extra space and does very little to change the flow of your lessons is to introduce neutral buoyancy as a ‘state’ not a ‘skill’. As soon as your students learn how to become neutrally buoyant, leave them to it. They can simply rise and fall with their inhaled breath from their knees or fins both during skills and whilst waiting their turn. You may decide that some skills are better performed by having them become negative again to give them more control but this is up to you as the instructor to use your judgement. Make sure that once you introduce hovering as a skill you give them plenty of time practising and moving in the water, adjusting their weighting and kit as necessary. Try to move away from beginning every skill by getting everyone to dump all the air from their BCDs! Once the students know how to hover allow them to continue to hover, wherever possible, so they are constantly practising.

As always remember that the performance requirement is the most important thing. Make sure you understand the difference between that and a teaching technique, which is simply a means of meeting the performance requirement.

As a final thought, a little bit like the legions of ‘clean eating’ exercise freaks telling everyone to eat kale when the reality is most people would probably happily give up a few extra years in the nursing home for the occasional sweet, bacon sandwich, I can’t help but feel, that as an industry, we have become rather too obsessed with technique, presenting skill as an end game in itself rather than emphasising the fun and adventure of diving.

Whilst there’s no denying that divers who are uncertain of their skills are more likely to give up diving and a solid foundation lays the basis for enjoyment and continuing education, dour fixation on perfection should not become a barrier to people coming into the sport. So embrace change, teach modern techniques and give your students the best foundation of skills that you can but remember all the time that diving is supposed to be fun!

Why Become a PADI Tec Instructor?

Tec Instructor

Becoming a tec instructor is not for everyone but for those with the ability and interest it’s an incredibly rewarding experience that not only broadens the range of courses you can teach but also gives you plenty of useful skills you can apply to your recreational courses too. Becoming an entry level tec instructor is also not as difficult as you might think.

A PADI Tec Instructor is able to teach the Tec 40 rating which is a brilliant introductory tec course that really bridges the gap between tec and rec. It can be taught in a variety of ways to suit the centre you work with. Many instructors, myself included, use the course as a means of teaching basic tec skills and dive planning as well as introducing the standardised technical rig (either backmount or sidemount) but what you may not know is that the course can also be taught using a 15l single tank and pony set up. Tec 40 divers are qualified to dive to 40m and manage up to 10mins of deco with the option of using a stage of up to 50% nitrox to pad their decompression.

To read more go to our sister site at Helldivers