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Dive Training Blogs

Skill-Building Scuba Games

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By Jesse Iacono

Contributors: Mark Phillips, Thomas Johnson, Christopher Richardson, Dillon Waters

Scuba divers are a fun-loving group of individuals; that’s the point of the activity! Most divers understand the importance of keeping their skill set fresh, but not everyone gravitates towards the idea of running through skill circuits during their precious underwater time. Skill-building games can be used by classes and certified buddy teams alike to bring some more fun into the process. Building in time for practice is key for every diver, so try some of these on your next dive, or jump in the pool with a buddy in between expeditions to keep yourself sharp.

GAME TIME

Hula Hoops

Rules:

Hula hoops are attached to weights by varying lengths of line to make them float at different depths. Divers must swim through the hoop without any part of their body or equipment touching it.

Skills:

Awareness – the diver becomes aware of their enlarged profile due to scuba equipment and realizes the space and position their body/equipment takes in the environment.

Buoyancy – the diver uses their breath to fine-tune their buoyancy as they pass through the obstacle.

Variations:

Different shapes can be made from pvc tubing.

Different sizes of hula hoops can be used.

Divers swim through the hoops performing different maneuvers – corkscrew spin, different fin kicks, etc.


Weight Hot Potato

Rules:

Weights of varying sizes are brought to the bottom. Divers arrange in a line or circle, the first diver picks up a weight, adjusts their buoyancy, and then hands the weight off to the next diver. As the weight moves down the line, the donating and receiving divers must adjust their buoyancy to stay neutral.

Skills:

Buoyancy – the diver adjusts to neutral buoyancy for varying amounts of weight and reacts quickly to sudden changes in buoyancy.

Control – the diver stays in formation while remaining neutral and stationary.

Task Loading – the diver’s other skills must be second nature as they are making quick adjustments.

Variations:

Each time a weight is handed off, another is picked up, giving every diver in the formation a different weight adjustment.

If a diver rises or sinks past a determined threshold, they are penalized or removed until one winner remains.


Frisbee/Torpedo

Rules:

An underwater frisbee or torpedo is passed from diver to diver while remaining neutrally buoyant.

Skills:

Buoyancy – the diver stays neutral and adjusts as necessary to catch the object.

Task Loading – the diver equalizes ears and buoyancy while chasing the object to different depths.

Variations:

The object is purposefully thrown out of reach, forcing the diver to chase it towards particular parts of the environment.

Underwater Football – teams must work together to deliver the object to the “end zone.” Touching the bottom results in a penalty and turnover of the object to the other team.


Ping Pong Balls

Rules:

Ping pong balls are brought under shallow water and held under each diver’s hands, either flat or slightly cupped downward, as they remain neutrally buoyant.

Skills:

Buoyancy – the diver primarily uses their breath for buoyancy adjustments due to the difficulty of operating their inflator/deflator with their hands occupied.

Use of Hands – the diver keeps their hands and arms still and in front of them to maintain control of the ping pong balls.

Variations:

Penalty or disqualification for any diver who loses a ball or closes their hand around it.

Divers navigate through an obstacle course while maintaining the ping pong balls.

Divers perform various kicks and change depths while maintaining the ping pong balls.

Divers hold a ping pong ball under an overturned spoon.


Push of War

Rules:

Two divers, either at the surface or underwater, face each other while positioned horizontally and link hands. The divers then kick to push towards each other and must push the other diver to the end of the pool or out of bounds to win.

Skills:

Fin Kicks – the diver uses efficient and powerful finning techniques to overpower the other diver.

Variations:

Winners of each round can take on new competitors until one pusher remains as victor.

A certain fin kick can be specified for both divers to use.


Fish Safari

Rules:

Fish shapes are cut out of old neoprene and attached to weights with line. Divers use underwater cameras to take pictures or videos of the targets.

Skills:

Photography – the diver uses a variety of techniques to build familiarity with the camera and explore new photo/video perspectives.

Variations:

Points awarded to best lighting, angle, grouping, etc.

Fish Hunt – divers bring pole spears and practice spearing fish.


Neutral Tic Tac Toe

Rules:

A slate or set of wet notes is passed between divers to play tic tac toe while neutrally buoyant.

Skills:

Buoyancy – the diver maintains neutral buoyancy while completing the exercise.

Task Loading – neutral buoyancy and other core skills become second nature as the diver works through problems and shifts their focus away from the surrounding environment.

Variations:

Change the game to another “pen and paper” style game.

Administer tests or problems with points off for losses of buoyancy control.


Bubble Rings

Rules:

Divers lay on the bottom and blow puffs of gas out of their mouth to try to make bubble rings that expand as they rise towards the surface.

Skills:

Regulator – the diver removes, replaces, and clears their regulator frequently.

Mask – due to breaks in the mask seal created by moving their face to blow the rings, the diver’s mask can partially fill with water and must be cleared.

Variations:

Divers remain neutrally buoyant while blowing vertical bubble rings.

Divers blow horizontal bubble rings by using hand movement to create a forward-moving vortex which traps gas expelled from the diver’s mouth or exhaust valve.


Gear Mess-up

Rules:

A scuba rig (tank, BC, regulator) is assembled incorrectly, having an agreed upon number of errors. The diver who assembles the equipment then puts it on and allows the other players to inspect them as if they were in the buddy check process for a specified amount of time. The other players must work together to identify all errors in the setup.

Skills:

Buddy Awareness – the diver shifts their focus to their buddy’s equipment and recognizes the amount of problems that can occur before entering in the water as well as the benefit of having their gear checked over by a buddy.

Equipment Familiarity – the diver familiarizes themselves with all parts of the equipment as well as problem identification and correction.

Variations:

Multiple rounds which present increasingly difficult errors to identify.

Teams write down issues and compete to get the most correct answers.

Multiple sets of gear are assembled, and the players move from station to station to find errors.


Obstacle Course

Rules:

Divers must navigate through a course that presents physical obstacles, stations that prompt certain activities, or both.

Skills:

The skills built from this game can vary greatly due to the opportunity to build just about anything into it. It can be as simple as moving through obstacles or as complex as combining all the games in this article.

Variations:

The variations are endless with this game and can apply to any level of skill – get creative!


To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

From its humble beginning in 1994 to today, the group of training agencies Scuba Diving International (SDI), Technical Diving International (TDI), and Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) form one of the largest diving certification agencies in the World – International Training. With 24 Regional Offices servicing more than 100 countries, the company today far exceeds the original vision the founders had when they conceived the idea on a napkin, sitting at a kitchen table in the early 1990’s.

Dive Training Blogs

Tips for… Navigation

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Not the most fun of topics we guess, but pretty important for any diver! Now we are sure that there are some of you out there that steer away from the navigation side and are quite happy to follow along at the back. But if you are one of those divers and the reason is because you think that it is ridiculously hard.. we want to give you a few basic tips to help you!

Now using a compass may look scary but actually there is not much to it. First rule to remember… North is North under the water as well as on land… it doesn’t change! So, with that in mind we can use that pretty easily under the water to at least give us a point of reference whilst we are diving, even if you are not leading it. Knowing the direction that you are going and how deep you are is a good reference and will help you to become more confident. Get into the habit of taking a ‘bearing’ – fancy word for direction – on the surface before going under and check the bearing as you are diving.

Knowing which way is left and right – well, when going right, the numbers increase, and when going left, the numbers decrease… easy! Starting off with turning left and right 90 degrees will start to get you into the habit of making turns. Try not to use complicated numbers when you first start off, nobody likes maths at the best of times, let alone trying to add 273 to 32 under the water! Keep it basic.

Last but not least, navigating is not all about using a compass. If you are not a fan of it and want to keep your dives simple, there is nothing wrong with natural navigation. There are some amazing sites around our coastline that are perfect for this – harbour walls, piers, open sea coves, all allow the point of reference to be followed on one side of your body on the way out and the opposite on the way back. You can also check that you are going the right way on your return as the depth will start to decrease. This is a great way to start building your confidence with navigating if you are new to it, and what is even better, lots of marine life love to congress around these rocky areas!

Other aspects to consider to throw into your natural navigation bag are picking some land marks during your dives. If there is something notable that doesn’t move (fish are not highly recommended!) take a note of this and use it as a reference and pick another. On the return journey, you can use these ‘markers’ to find your way back to the starting point. A nice and simple way to find where you are going.

So, give it a go in a nice shallow bay area and see how you get on… practice makes perfect!


Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com

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Dive Training Blogs

Jump into… Behind the scenes of a dive centre

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Ah yes, the glamorous dive instructor. Just as you see in the adverts walking around in swimwear coming out of the sea… and as you guys see us, walking into the centre to meet you at 10am and having done two dives, finishing at 2pm and heading home…

Or not. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the job as a dive instructor, more than I could ever tell you. But, it does not come without the negative side as I am sure with any job. 

So first off, let’s get these 10am starts out of our heads. A lot of our dives do meet at 10am, to be honest, that is mainly to give you the time to get to us and avoid the traffic! We are there longggg before this, setting up the boat, making sure everything is working correctly, checking the equipment, paperwork and loading everything up to have a smooth, well planned day when you get here. Oh, and as for the 2pm finish. I wish! Over the summer months you will usually find us here until late at night, if we aren’t out doing late afternoon dives, we will be there cleaning the equipment from the day… filling tanks… and making sure everything is ready for the following day.

Next. What else do you not see us doing on the PADI adverts? Cleaning? The centres aren’t exactly small and take a lot of work for us all to maintain… you know what it is like when you are on holiday and get sand in your shoes and it takes ages to finally get rid of it all? Well times that by 100 and you have an idea! 

But it’s not just about the cleaning and preparation parts of the job. There is also a lot of training. From risk assessment training, to scenario days with the staff, we plan monthly training sessions to make sure everyone is up to date with policies and procedures, any training updates and run emergency scenarios to make sure everyone is safe and prepared. 

Last but not least, the actual courses and guiding that you see us doing. The fun part… and what we all live for. Taking you all into the water whether it is to take your first breaths or to learn how to become an instructor. This is what we do all of the rest of the work for. And, I most definitely would not change this for the world. 

So, all jobs have negatives, and in the grand scheme of things, I can cope with filling some cylinders late at night for a career of exploration and seeing the most amazing sites I could ever wish to see. What are the positives and negatives of your job? If they’re nothing like this… why not become a dive instructor?! 


Clare began Duttons Divers at just 19 years old and a short while later became one of the world’s youngest PADI Course Directors. Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com

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