Top of your game: How to get there or stay there
Most of us want to do well at whatever interests us. For a cyclist, that may mean being able to ride the STP, a 200+ mile bike ride from Seattle to Portland. For a runner, it might be able to run a marathon. For a diver, we all want to be proficient in our diving skills and be able to dive safely. So, how do you get to the top of your game in scuba? Is it training? Or just diving a lot? Or watching how other divers dive? Asking divers and dive professionals for advice? All of these are important and they’re interrelated.
Training provides a structured approach for you to learn and practice new skills. You benefit by having professional guidance and supervision, which can reduce the learning curve if you were just trying to do it on your own. All divers need to start out with some basic training on equipment, skills and knowledge about diving. After that, taking additional training expands your knowledge and skills, opening up new realms of diving.
Training helps, but if you don’t dive often, your skills will decay. Depending on your experience and training, you might need a refresher after 3-6 months of inactivity. We learn to dive so we can have fun and explore, so you need to dive for fun and practice what you learned in your training.
Watching other divers can be good and bad. If you’re around proficient, well-trained divers, what you see is probably excellent. Unfortunately, some divers have some bad habits that really shouldn’t be mimicked. Look for divers that appear calm and are comfortable with their scuba kit.
Asking divers and dive professionals for advice can help you avoid pitfalls. Don’t reinvent the wheel; ask for advice and learn from what other divers experience. This can be advice on what equipment to buy, techniques for entries & exits, how to get your camera or DPV into the water, etc. If you’re on a dive boat, chances are there is a divemaster overseeing the dive. They may provide a briefing, but if you have questions, be sure to ask them.
Getting to the top of your game will probably require you to train and get experience. The PADI system of diver education makes the training progression easier.
Open Water Diver → Advanced Open Water → Rescue Diver
During that progression, you’re introduced to specialty areas of diving in Advanced Open Water (your instructor may have introduced you to some specialty areas during your Open Water course, too). If you found areas you really enjoy, you should consider taking Specialty Diving courses in those areas.
At the top of your game, you become the ideal buddy. Someone people want to dive with. That ideal buddy is a Master Scuba Diver. A PADI Master Scuba diver has training through Rescue Diver plus five Specialty certifications and has experience of at least fifty(50) logged dives. In my next post, I’ll discuss more about the PADI Master Scuba Diver rating, how to get there and dive into the various Specialty areas that are available.