Carl's Tips

Teaching Scuba Skills Uncovered


So you have just become a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor and are ready to teach the world to dive! You have done all the training with your PADI Course Directors and IDC Staff Instructors; now you are faced with the exciting task of applying what you learnt in theory and practice to the ‘Real World’ and to ‘Real Students’! AAAARRRRRHHHHHHH… It all may seem a little daunting, but if you remember the K.I.S.S principle when teaching the skills, this transition will be seamless.

Ok - Lets practice achieving neutral buoyancy

Ok – Lets practice achieving neutral buoyancy

Stop me if I am wrong, but you are very excited! You have just spent months of endless days practicing your skills and doing those damn hovers in the pool trying to just get it right. Your head is about to explode from all new and exciting information. This build up has been epic and now you are keen to stick your teeth into your first Open Water Students and teach them to survive underwater. Just remember to K.I.S.S your students for positive results!

 

Inhale to check if you need to add any gas

Inhale to check if you need to add any gas

 

1. K.I.S.S. = Keep it Simple, Stupid!

Remember the KISS Principle… Keep it Simple, Stupid. This basic principle should apply to everything you do with your new students.  When explaining to your class how to clear a mask, be short and direct with your values and descriptions. A good Value to use is as simple as saying “If your mask doesn’t fit you correctly, it may leak and let water in. So we need to know how to get the water out to continue on the dive”. Short, simple and definitely a good value. J I mentor lots of new Instructors and rambling off several values is not uncommon when you first start. So keep it down to just one.

 

Add just a little more gas

Add just a little more gas

 

Watch this space for my next blog on how to teach mask clearing – coming soon

 

Remember this: Once you start rambling to your Students they only remember 20% of what you say. So the other 80% is useless and damn confusing. Keeping what you say meaningful and valuable increases their retention of the information and keeps learning fun and engaging.

 

Inhale to check if you need to add any gas

Inhale to check if you need to add any gas

TIP OF THE DAY: When you find yourself talking way too much to your students, think to yourself: DO THEY NEED TO KNOW THIS? If you answer with a resounding NO, then STOP speaking and move on. It is said that “perfect scuba instruction is reached, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. So basically, just remove the bulls%$t and keep it on topic and direct to the point! J

 

Inhale and go up

Inhale and go up

 

 2.  K.I.S.S Principle also = Keep it Simple and Straightforward

When demonstrating skills you must ensure that you visually depict how the students must achieve the skills performance requirement and NO MORE. You must keep the demonstration simple and straightforward and very easily understood. To do so you must ensure that every action you do during any demonstration is meaningful. They must be clear cut, definitive and black and white from the students perspective. If you do this, then your eagle eye students will have no confusion about what they must do when it is their turn to perform the skill.

 

Exhale and go down

Exhale and go down

For instance, when demonstrating ‘Achieving Neutral Buoyancy’ you must not blur the skill process. If you keep it simple and straightforward then it is very easy for them to copy. On the other hand if you make it confusing then you will have all your students floating at the surface as a result. Start off by demonstrating the adding of small squirt of gas into your BCD (Signalling to your students that you are performing a full breathing cycle between each addition to TEST your buoyancy to see if it is nearing neutral or not.) Once you begin to lift off the bottom, if you ‘the Instructor’ continue to add more gas to ‘top up’ the bcd so it is easier for you lift using your breath, it is really blurring what it is that you want the student to learn.  Effectively you are showing them to continue to add gas even
though they are neutrally buoyant and rising with the inhale.

 

Another quick breathing check

Another quick breathing check

Personally when I teach this skill I begin by resting on the bottom, then demonstrating the adding of gas and inhalation checks in sequence. Once I feel I am about to lift slightly from the floor I do one last addition of gas before I leave the bottom the first time, then up I go. Once I leave the floor I DO NOT add any more gas and I definitely not drop back down to the bottom. I remain ‘neutral’, lifting and falling slightly within the water column with every breath. This is extremely simple to watch and UNDERSTAND from a student’s perspective. If the student needs to add a little after they have risen from the bottom, you can easily workshop it with them by suggesting they do it on the fly during their demo. Easy as… Just you don’t demo doing it to everyone. K.I.S.S  mmmmmmwa. J

 

Ok - Lets practice achieving neutral buoyancy

Ok – Lets practice achieving neutral buoyancy

Mask clearing is exactly the same. You can simply demo pressing at the top of the frame, lookup and blow out your nose and 90% of the
time this method works fine. J If your student needs additional guidance, then just workshop with them to show them some additional techniques and methods. For example: Start them off just pressing at the top of the mask, and if need be, gesture to them to lift slightly at the bottom with their thumbs to help break the seal at the bottom. But don’t include this method in the demo. Again keeping the demo as simple as possible to ensure the basics are there and are easily observed.

 

 

3.  K.I.S.S Principle also = Keep Issues Short and Subsurface

When working with your students through problems with their underwater skills, keep issues short and subsurface. So when you student stands up after having mask issues during their initial practice talk less above water and get them back under to continue to work with them .Keeping your above water discussions short and getting them underwater quickly will benefit 2 fold.

 

 

Firstly, it will begin to make then understand that we don’t just go to the surface to sort out problems while scuba diving. If they leave
the pool thinking they can just stand up every time they have an issue then what do you think they are likely to do when performing the skills in the ocean. GO UP of course! Because if you allow it in the pool, they will think it is an option for the ocean. So reduce this as much as possible. If they continue to surface, in the past I have even taken one step further and simply waited kneeling underwater for the student to fix themselves and return down to give it another go. (With basic remediation of the missed critical attribute) And 99% of the time this works just fine! Tough love I suppose. J lol

 

KISS principle - can you see the resemblance

KISS principle – can you see the resemblance

 

So I suppose I will not contradict myself so I need to stop
rambling about K.I.S.S, but I wanted to leave you with just one last thing…

Albert Einstein once said: “everything should be made
as simple as possible, but no simpler”.  K.I.S.S THAT!

 

Apply this principle everyday when you’re teaching and in
every facet of your courses. Doing so you’ll guarantee that your students are
kept engaged and keen to learn more.

 

Learn these and more Techniques from Carl Fallon (Platinum Course Director) during you PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC)

Carl Fallon 

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