Helpful Tips for New Scuba Students

Dolphin Dive Athens GA

Open Water classroom session at Dolphin Dive Sept. 2012

The decision to become a certified scuba diver is made for different reasons, and whether someone is seeking adventure or pursuing a new career path or just ready to check that item off their Bucket List,  the range of emotions that accompany the commitment is as varied as the people drawn to the sport. My favorite aspect of scuba is how “in the moment” I feel when I’m diving. There are few activities in life when you aren’t thinking about what you’ll do later that day, or what you wish you’d said to someone earlier. Scuba diving demands all your attention, and you happily oblige.

That said, there is a degree of anxiety that accompanies even the most excited new student. Human beings aren’t designed to breath underwater. And nearly everyone who imagines visiting the ocean floor thinks, at least once, “But…what about the sharks…?” Here are some tips that will help new students get the most out of their scuba instruction and ease anxiety, along the way.

In the Classroom:

1. Come to class prepared. As you’ll learn when you visit Dolphin Dive Center and sign up for our Open Water Diver certification class, you will need to read the course book and answer the questions at the end of each section before you attend the two classroom sessions. This is important because understanding the science of scuba diving is paramount to becoming a safe diver, and the repetition of new concepts is a proven technique for maximum retention.

2. Listen to your instructor. For many new scuba students, it has been a while since they were in school. We all bring a wealth of life experiences to the classroom. However, the instructor will be the most experienced scuba diver in the room, so listen to him or her. Refrain from talking over him or her, or from interjecting your own thoughts and opinions. We encourage students to ask questions. But students who talk more than listen can impact the learning experience of the other students in the room.

3. Be on time. Running late stresses you out, and holding up class for late students stresses out everyone else in the classroom. Stess feeds anxiety, so give yourself plenty of time to arrive relaxed to class or the pool.

In the Water:

1. Don’t feel rushed. There is no reason to rush while you’re putting your gear together, performing your first buddy check, or descending in the water. Scuba diving involves a slew of important details to remember. You’ll learn specific steps to follow so that no important detail is left unchecked, and we know learning those steps takes practice. That’s what your OW training is all about. So don’t feel like we expect you to perform everything quickly and expertly. Take your time, and feel free to repeat steps until you feel comfortable.

2. Ask questions. There are no stupid questions, and as you try out the scuba equipment and experience breathing underwater, you will likely wonder how to put in practice what you’ve learned in the classroom. The instructors and divemasters are there to answer those questions, so ask away!

3. Practice hand signals. When you’re in the pool as a scuba student, it may feel unnatural and, well, a little dorky to use hand signals. We understand; we’ve all been there. But the minute you dive in open water you will realize the importance of communicating with your dive buddy underwater. Hand signals seem obvious when you’re skimming the list on paper. It’s another thing to actually use them. A perfect example is the sign for “I’m okay.” The natural sign for non-divers is the famous “thumbs-up.” But if you signal a thumbs-up to a diver, he or she will think you want or need to go to the surface.

Dolphin Dive Athens GA

This is the signal for "I'm okay."

Scuba diving is a new experience, and students can get the most out of their Open Water instruction when they come prepared, listen, and learn. We look forward to teaching you! For all the information you need to get started, call Dolphin Dive Center at (706) 548-3483.

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