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Practice Makes Perfect – Tune Up Your Scuba Skills

It’s almost time to come out of diving hibernation as the winter-long surface interval comes to an end, so how do you reacquaint yourself with the skills that may have gotten a bit rusty?
“Use it or lose it”, the old adage says, and it's very true, and definitely also for scuba diving.

But sometimes, it just isn’t possible to use your dive skills during the winter, even though there is the option for diving during the winter season.

So if you’re among the majority of divers, who take the coldest months off, you may find that your dive skills aren’t quite what they were when you hung up your BCD in the autumn.

So here follows a practice plan for re-training your skills.

This can be used at the beginning of the dive season, or anytime you need to improve your scuba skills.

1. Do you ABC’s
Take your time to go through your kit, and make sure all is in order, and that you’re being extra thorough in assembling the elements.

Haste makes waste. So take your time.

A diver taking time going through her kit - Credit: PhotoSky 4t com
2. Practice your basic water skills
Go through the basic dive skills.

Do a hover (if you struggle, start with the fin pivot), remove and replace regulator, remove and replace mask.

If you’re really ambitious, you can also remove and replace BCD and weight belt at the surface.

And if your buoyancy is top notch, take it up a level and try inverted hovers, trim, etc.

If you have the opportunity, also practice a few water entry strategies, such as giant stride.

A scuba diver practicing buoyancy in a pool - Credit: Royster
3. Practice emergency skills
Next, move to the more advanced skills, and consider repeating these from time to time, in-season.

These include deploying an SMB, out-of-air scenario, and re-surfacing of an unconscious or injured diver.

If you dive with doubles, also practice your basic shut-down drills.

4. Work your communication skills
Agree with your buddy that at some point during the dive, you both need to communicate something on the dive, preferably rather complex, to the other. Make it scenario based, and make sure you have a sign to communicate that this is in fact just a scenario.

Bring two writing slates or wetnote books. You or your buddy then communicates a message to the other, who then writes down what he or she believes is communicated. Then you switch. Afterwards, you've compare notes and see how efficiently you've communicated the messages.

Underwater communication using a slate - Credit: Globalreset
All of these skills are of course necessary for all scuba divers.. So a beginning of season run-through is valuable, and elements of it should be repeated during the season, preferably on easy dives at well-known sites.

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