Top 10 New Diver Improvements
ScubaTony himself created a top 10 list of new diver improvements. Hope you enjoy and we cannot wait to hear from you!
1. Buoyancy control
Many of you have heard me talk about Buoyancy control as if it were the only thing you should be thinking about down there. Well, as a new diver, that is mostly true. Once you master it, you can stop thinking about it because it will come natural and everything else in your diving will fall into place. Watch for future articles to help you become a buoyancy zen master.
2. Spending money on certifications
This is contradictory to what your open water instructor was preaching. May the PADI gods strike me down for saying this but I think it is bad advice. What a new diver needs is bottom time not classes. True, an instructor has lots more knowledge to share with you but when you are new you are working on all the other things and most of what he tells you will be lost in your nervous bubble blowing brain.
3. Spending money on gear
This too will get me in trouble with the upsell retail diver world. It seems some instructors are trying to sell you dive gear before you even start your course. Again, this is a disservice to a new diver. Sure later on you can spend as much money as you want on the latest wazzoo multicolor split fins and snorkel but that is not going to improve your dive skill as much as spending your money to get some bottom time. Rent some gear and tanks and do some shore diving. Take a dive trip. It will give you a chance to try out some gear and later you can make a better choice as to what gear best suits you. Also don't be afraid of buying used gear. Lots of it on the market for 50-80% off what you would spend retail.
4. Worrying about air consumption
It is true that air consumption is often one of the yardsticks by which diver skills are judged but when you are new, it is largely irrelevant. Focus on your buoyancy, fin technique, trim and other skills and your air consumption will fall into place on its own.
5. Swimming with your hands
Truly the most common error I see. As swimmers on the surface, our hands are the most effective form of propulsion and maneuvering in the water. But as divers, we put those big clunky fins on, which makes your feet the new swimming appendages. Swimming with your hands while diving is very inefficient and makes you tired. Tired means you breath more and that messes with your buoyancy. Use your hands to communicate with your buddy and to manipulate your gear. If you find yourself pushing or pulling water with your hands, tuck them in your BCD pockets or clasp them together or hug yourself. Don't swim with them.
6. Adding distractions
Cameras are the worst offender here but it can also be your kids or attempting something you are not ready for. Stay focused on your diving when your new.
7. Taking a long dry break after certification
New dive skills take time to master. Some divers are awesome in 8 dives and others might take 30-50 to truly master dive skills. The longer you wait after your certification to master the skills, the more dives it will take to get there. If you have beach access, even if the diving is not very good, get out there and dive as much as you can when you are new.
8. Using your BCD too much
Most new divers tend to spend a lot of time releasing or adding air to their BCD. Try to think of your lungs as a BCD. If you want to come up a little, take a slightly deeper breath. If you want to go down, exhale a little deeper or pause before you inhale again. It is a much easier to do than adjusting your BCD and doesn't use any extra air to do it. A skilled diver will add a little air at the start of the dive, then release a little if they change depths dramatically and as their tank gets low. Then one more time on the surface. 4 times? Yea. That's about it.
9. Relying on buddy or dive professional too much
It's hard not to let them when your buddy or the divemaster want to help. In Cozumel it seems that magically your gear is always set up and on a full tank. How does that happen? When you are new, set up your own gear, keep track of your own air, don't hold hands with your buddy. Being an independent confident diver allows you to help others later but what it really does is insures your own safety and enjoyment.
10. Not asking questions
Don´t be shy out there. Divers love to talk about diving. When you're on the dive boat, chat with the Divemaster about it. Ask him or her if she would give you some pointers or watch you underwater. If you see another diver on the boat that seems to have it all together above and below the water, ask them how they do it. What is their secret? You may flatter them and make a fast friend. But more importantly, you will learn to be a better diver yourself.
These are by no means the only things a new diver does wrong but they are pretty common.
I hope this list helps you think about your diving a little and makes you more confident down there.
Now Go dive!!