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I grew up in the dive industry since I was eight years old. Being exposed to different types of divers, ocean encounters, and different dive destinations around the world, I was inspired to follow my family’s legacy and became a Divemaster myself.
Being a Divemaster has come with the benefit of meeting inspiring divers, underwater photographers, and generally amazing people who always become a friend in some way. With all of this said, the dive industry and scuba diving as a sport does not always consist of divers with 4000+ dives, big cameras, smooth buoyancy, and “OK” signs going all around. Scuba divers range from freshly-certified open water divers, advanced certified divers who might not have enough confidence to hold the status of an advanced certified diver, and there are divers who do not dive often enough to put their skills to use. For whatever reason, many scuba divers lack confidence often due to a lack of skill or experience.
No matter where you are in your diving journey, the underwater world is there to be enjoyed. Every dive should be savored and memorable. Diving should not be seen as too serious, too big of a challenge or in the worst case, end up as a traumatic situation.
Here are five steps on how to become a more confident scuba diver
At The Salt Sirens, we’ll show you how to get the most out of a dive within the safety limits as a skilled and confident scuba diver.
1. There is no shame in doing a refresher course
Divemasters and Instructors are trained to detect stress, and they can pick it up from the second you do your check-in at the dive center, mount your gear, or the way that you pay attention to the dive briefing.
If you have not dived in an extended period (such as longer than a year), have a good and honest talk with yourself and consider taking a refresher course. Decide this before booking your next dive trip, so that you don’t spend the first dive of the day in a state of stress.
You can complete a refresher course in your home waters or even better, check with the dive center that you are booking with if they offer refresher courses and do one at your dive destination! This way, you’ll have the opportunity to get used to the foreign waters, have an chance to feel comfortable in your dive gear, and feel confident while diving during your trip.
Along with refresher courses, stay curious and studious in regards to adding extra specialty courses to your dive profile. This challenges you in new scenarios, adds pages to your dive log, and will certainly boost your confidence up a few levels.
2. Don’t compare yourself to more experienced divers
Even the most accomplished and experienced scuba divers had to do their first open water dive–and I can bet you that it didn’t go gracefully.
Some divers are quicker when it comes to preparing for a dive and this is all due to experience, they might be better with their air consumption, or their gear might be higher-tech and more expensive than regular gear. It is important for you to remember that this is your dive, take your time when getting ready and don’t feel too proud to ask your Divemaster or instructor for help where it’s needed.
Everybody started somewhere, everybody started out clumsy, and every diver once only had five to 10 logged dives. Most importantly, just enjoy it! Practice your air consumption but don’t hold your breath, if you run out of air sooner than the rest of the group then it’s okay, as long as you had a memorable dive. The more relaxed you are, the less air you’ll consume, anyways. A win win!
3. Visualization and preparation is key
Numerous studies have shown that mental practice through visualization can be as effective to improve skills as real practice.
On the evening before your dive, find a quiet space and visualize your dive. Run yourself through the morning leading up to the dive from mounting your equipment all the way through to getting back on the boat and rinsing your gear at the end of a good days diving. Try and identify what can trigger a panic attack and find a way to solve it. When you go for a dive, it’s a good idea to address this potential problem with your Divemaster or Instructor.
As for preparation, get your drybag ready the night before. If it makes you feel more comfortable, arrive a little early at the dive center to set up your gear before taking off to the dive site. This way, you can take your time and feel less pressure. Whether you use your own personal gear or rental gear from the center, make sure that it is functioning, fits well, and listen for any leaks.
4. Ask all the questions you need
This is what a Divemaster is here for! No question is a bad question. It’s okay to ask about the weather conditions, how many divers will join on the dive, and about the level of difficulty of the dive.
Ideally, ask questions before the dive briefing. Your queries will help us remember to add detail to the briefing. If we’ve missed something, don’t be afraid to ask at the end. Asking questions and finding clarity will mean that you won’t be left wondering or building up scenarios in your head before entering the water.
So many new and even experienced divers stay silent when they should’ve spoken up, only to panic once they hit the water. Being curious and inquisitive about your dive can save you a lot of pre-dive stress and panic.
5. Allow yourself to enjoy your dive!
Scuba diving is an intimidating sport. After all, you are in a different element and the sensation of it can be extremely overwhelming. Once you have made it to your target depth, take a minute to absorb it all and let the fact that you are actually breathing underwater soak in. Adjust your buoyancy as needed and enjoy that flying sensation.
Being a comfortable and confident scuba diver doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes practice and repetition. But being a little bit clumsy, maybe slower and more cautious than the rest of the group doesn’t mean that you should not enjoy that dive! The best diver out there is the one who has the most fun!
It often happens that scuba divers become discouraged from diving after diving in rough conditions, becoming anxious before a dive, or being too proud or shy to admit that there is a stress factor that came up in the briefing prior to the dive.
May the above steps help you as a new diver or a not-so-regular diver to find new encouragement to enjoy the sport and the underwater world with more confidence and practice!
What tips or questions do you have about becoming a more confident diver? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.