Most instructors, or PADI IDC candidates, have few worries regarding teaching the regulator recovery skill. They have performed it many times, and most people would consider it to be one of the ‘easier’ skills to teach. However, with the shift in teaching methodology more towards neutral buoyancy teaching, we just have to be a little careful of meeting the stated performance requirements for this skill when teaching in confined water:
To teach this skill correctly in confined water, we must ensure that the regulator has been recovered from ‘behind the shoulder‘. With the old-style teaching, when the students were on their knees, this was quite easy to achieve with either the sweep method or the reach method of recovery. However, nowadays, when teaching the skill in a more horizontal position, we have to be careful that the recovery was deemed to be ‘from behind the shoulder‘. In a horizontal ‘diving position’, the regulator will naturally fall below the shoulder, and if we just use the sweep method of recovery, our students will not meet the performance requirement.
In this horizontal position – on fin-tips or in mid-water – we must use the reach method of recovery, so that the hand reaches behind the shoulder to recover the regulator. We can also teach the sweep method, so the students learn more and will know two different techniques for recovering their regulator, but the reach method is needed to meet the course performance requirements in confined water.
To teach this method in Confined Water Dive #1, we must first help the students attain neutral buoyancy and a horizontal position. One way of doing this is to add little bits of air to their BCDs as you coax them into the correct breathing pattern for diving (read more about this in a previous blog – here). Once in this horizontal/neutral state, we then continue with the skills from CW#1, including the regulator recovery skill.
During an Open Water Course, I would still teach the sweep method of recovery first, as it is perhaps a little easier. With the confidence gained from this, we can then move on to the reach method of recovery too, and then we will meet the confined water performance requirements. Later on in Confined Water Dive #5, we can then re-practise both methods during the mini-dive, whilst swimming around the pool neutrally buoyant.
When we then move to open water, our students can choose to recover the regulator by either method, as PADI Standards do not stipulate that the regulator must be recovered from behind the shoulder in open water (only in confined water). Personally, I prefer to have the students complete this skill on Open Water Dive #1 whilst swimming along, as they did in Confined Water Dive #5.
Teaching this skill in this manner will help your students be better, more confident divers. By employing this teaching technique, we have not only met the PADI performance requirements, but we have also taught two different recovery methods, and focused on maintaining and improving the buoyancy of our entry-level students – make neutral buoyancy a habit, rather than a skill..
During our PADI IDCs on Koh Lanta, Thailand, we focus on neutral buoyancy teaching, and teaching our students to be good instructors, not just to pass an exam. If you are looking to become a PADI Instructor soon, send us an email if you have any further questions about teaching neutrally buoyant skills. Likewise, if you are already a PADI MSDT, you could join us for your PADI IDC Staff Course and also get an insight into joining the ranks of instructors who teach skills whilst neutrally buoyant…
One of my favourite PADI Specialties to teach is the Digital Underwater Photography Specialty. It can be great fun, but also usually you get to see a big improvement in your students’ photography skills.
The course requires two open water dives, the first of which can be conducted in confined water. Completing this first dive, and the first knowledge review, would also allow you to certify your students to DUP Level 1. I prefer to teach the full Specialty – two knowledge reviews and two open water dives – and certify my students as DUP Level 2 Divers. I also conduct a confined water dive. I aim to schedule this course over two full days:
Day 1: Classroom session in the morning and confined water session in the afternoon
Day 2: Two open water dives
On the first day, I spend the morning in the classroom. We review the students’ knowledge reviews, and get to know the camera they will be using on land first – both in and out of the housing. During the knowledge development session I make sure my students understand all the main concepts – shutter speed, aperture, white balance, depth of field, ISO, scene modes – and make sure they know how to make these adjustments on their camera both in and out of the housing.
In the afternoon of the first day we hit the pool and put everything we learned in the classroom into practise in this relaxed setting, where we can take our time and practise changing our camera settings, and getting good shots. I take a few objects into the pool so the students can practise focus, white balance, and depth of field. I try to find some everyday objects with a few different colours – including red – too to help practise adjusting white balance, and to see how the different scene modes show the different colours. Whilst in the pool, I also emphasise, and practise, taking photos with good buoyancy control, and without touching the bottom.
On the second day of the course, we head to open water to put everything in to practise with some cool marine life too. I also take the coloured objects to the ocean to practise white balance adjustments at different depths during the first dive too.
We also spend time finding some cool creatures that are conducive to practising photography. I focus on creatures that don’t move very far, or very quickly, like nudibranchs, morays, lionfish, clownfish etc., so the students can practise the PADI S.E.A. method…
Remember the RDP ? You know, that blue and white thing you last used during your Open Water course ? How about the eRDPml ? Well you should be up-to-speed with both of these and comfortable with all aspects of their use before arriving at your PADI IDC…
The PADI Divemaster course should have left you comfortable with both the RDP and the eRDPml, but all too often I see IDC candidates spending their evenings trying to remember how to work out minimum surface intervals when they should be learning new information and preparing their teaching presentations for the next day. If you are a little rusty with the use of either version of the RDP, then here’s some tips to help you arrive at your IDC confident with both versions of the PADI RDP:
1. Read through the ‘Instructions For Use’ booklets for both versions
The instruction booklets that come with both the RDP and the eRDPml are very good at explaining the two products. The booklets walk you through how to use the products from the beginning with example questions to work through as you go. They are an excellent way to refresh your memory, especially for minimum surface intervals…
2. Go through the PADI Open Water Diver Course Quizzes and Exams
Inside this booklet you will find the ‘RDP Table and eRDPml Quiz’, the ‘RDP Table and eRDPml Final Exam’, and the ‘eRDPml Multilevel Quiz’. All three of these have two versions – A & B. You should try all of these questions, and be comfortable finding the correct answers without any issues. Every PADI dive centre and instructor should have a copy of this exam booklet for you to look over. There is a copy included in the IDC Crew Pak too.
3. Visit the Study Tools page of our website
The Go Pro In Paradise website has a ‘PADI IDC Study Tools‘ page designed to help people prepare for their PADI IDC. There are study notes for each of the five topics of the dive theory exams – Physics, Physiology, Equipment, Dive Skills & The Environment, and Decompression Theory – plus some extra downloadable questions to help you practise with both the RDP and eRDPml. There are also links to videos to help you remember your knots…
4. Check out our YouTube channel
The Go Pro In Paradise YouTube channel has videos covering different aspects of dive theory – including physics, physiology, and dive planning. The dive planning videos are designed to help you work through some of the different types of questions that can be asked on the PADI IDC and IE dive theory exams with both the RDP and the eRDPml.
Following these four steps before your IDC will help you arrive much more relaxed. You will also have much more time during the IDC to focus on the new information being presented rather than studying what you should already know…
If you would like any further information about the PADI IDC process, or how to prepare for it, please feel free to send me an email and ask – email@example.com
Using a delayed SMB is a skill many dive professionals take for granted – as they have used them so often. Many forget that first attempt at using one, which often doesn’t go as planned. Ask an instructor who teaches the Divemaster course regularly – they often see the struggles of that first try. There are also many options for using one. The chances are that if you ask ten dive professionals about their preferences for using/stowing a delayed SMB, you will get ten differing answers…
Firstly, let’s clear up the difference between an ‘SMB’ and a ‘dSMB’. ‘SMB’ stands for surface marker buoy, also commonly known as ‘the safety sausage’. The difference between the two is, basically, where they are inflated – an ‘SMB’ is inflated at the surface, or permanently inflated, whereas a ‘dSMB’ (delayed surface marker buoy) is inflated underwater towards the end of a dive. An SMB can either be towed for the whole dive, or just used at the surface to signalling the boat if you are a little further away than you thought.
Personally, I much prefer to use a dSMB at the end of every dive. I like to have a marker on the surface to keep boat traffic away as I ascend with my students, and am not fond of towing an SMB for the whole dive (I don’t dive in areas where this is required by law).
The PADI Delayed SMB Diver Distinctive Specialty is designed for instructors to teach their students how to safely master this skill. The aim is for us to talk through the different options and try a few different techniques, and the student can decide which they prefer. We can show them the different methods of inflation – alternate air source, oral, exhaled bubbles, LPI – and also the difference between a reel and a spool (and the different designs of both). We can also discuss and show the option for deploying a dSMB without a reel or line too, and the advantages of an orange line over a white one. I like to mark distances on my lines too so students can see their depth when reeling in and show them how that works. This is also useful when teaching wreck or navigation dives/Specialties.
The students then get to practise this skill under controlled conditions with instructor supervision. We talk them through the different options during the knowledge development first, and could even do a confined water dive to practise first too. During the open water dives the students get to first try the skill in a stationary position, and then from mid-water on dive two. The more different options they can try, the better. Once deployed, the students then have to swim with the dSMB and make a controlled ascent, reeling the line in. After a safety stop, a final ascent to the surface is made, and the dSMB is stowed for the next dive once back on the boat.
The correct and safe use of a dSMB is an extremely valuable skill for every diver. It’s a great course to teach, and students get great satisfaction when they master the skill. As a dSMB Specialty Instructor you can also offer dive one of the Specialty as an Adventure Dive during your Advanced Open Water Courses – another reason for obtaining this Specialty Instructor rating. I would recommend adding it on to your PADI IDC course, or including it in your MSDT Prep programme…
If you’d like more information about this, or any other, PADI Specialty, feel free to send me an email and ask for further details…
At Go Pro In Paradise we are trying to push more and more towards neutrally buoyant skills during our PADI IDC programmes. We are trying to stay off the knees, and teaching more on fin-tips or in mid-water. The dive environment is becoming ever more fragile, and we need to train the future generation of divers to be even more environmentally aware, and with even better buoyancy skills than in the past. There is no need to spend any time on the knees during diver training – we should promote proper weighting and positioning in the water right from the first moment new divers get their heads under the water.
It starts with Confined Water Dive #1 of the Open Water Course. During our IDCs, the first time we take our IDC Candidates in the pool we conduct a CW Dive #1 workshop, and teach our candidates the importance of not over-weighting their future students, and how to get them neutrally buoyant before proceeding with the rest of the skills in CW Dive #1. We achieve this by teaching the ‘Breathing Underwater’ skill as an introduction to the fin pivot (as described in a previous post). All other skills in confined water can then be performed on fin-tips.
We also then conduct a neutrally buoyant skill circuit, with all skills demonstrated on fin-tips – staying off the knees.
After this skill circuit, we then conduct a Confined Water Dive #5 workshop, where we teach our IDC candidates how to help their Open Water students to make the transition from performing skills on their fin-tips to now performing them mid-water whilst swimming around the pool neutrally buoyant. We also highlight the importance of correct weighting and the value of practising swimming in shallow water without touching the bottom or breaking the surface – demonstrating good trim and horizontal body position.
For the rest of the IDC, we then expect our candidates to perform all their teaching presentations in this manner. Hopefully we can do our bit to inspire the next generation of PADI dive instructors to teach better buoyancy, trim, and environmental awareness in their future Open Water Courses…
If you would like to know more about our PADI IDC programmes, please feel free to visit our website, or to send us an email…
If you have been teaching a while, you might be considering your next steps, and maybe even planning on attending a PADI CDTC and becoming a Course Director in the future yourself. The PADI IDC Staff Course is the first step on the instructor development ladder.
As a certified PADI IDC Staff Instructor you will be able to assist Course Directors with IDC programmes and share your wisdom and experience with new PADI leaders. The IDC Staff Instructor course provides you with extensive knowledge of the PADI IDC process and prepares you to positively shape the next generation of PADI Professionals. It’s also a great career move, and opens up more opportunities…
So, what do you gain from the training ? After certification you will be able to:
There are two options for the IDC Staff Instructor course. The most popular is to sit in on a full IDC programme. You start a couple of days before the IDC itself, learning about the psychology of evaluation and how to evaluate the candidates IDC teaching presentations. Also during these days you will need to pass the PADI Dive Theory and Standards Exams again – with a higher passing score of 80% this time. You will also need to deliver one Confined Water and one Knowledge Development Teaching Presentation again. Also with higher passing scores than on an IDC programme. Then it’s time for the IDC candidates to arrive, and you sit back and relive the IDC experience from a different, more relaxed, perspective…
As a PADI Instructor with teaching experience already, you will be able to take in more information now you are on the other side of the fence, and more relaxed. You will absorb even more of the valuable information stored in the heads of our experienced Platinum PADI Course Director, and help pass this on to the IDC candidates. You will also help deliver the extra workshops and seminars added to Go Pro In Paradise IDC programmes to help the IDC candidates hit the ground running after the IE, and see how we try to focus on teaching our IDCs neutrally buoyant.
The longer option outlined above is perhaps the better option. You will get more practice getting to grips with the evaluation process for Confined Water, Open Water and Knowledge Development presentations. However, for those short in time, there is a shorter four-day option. During this option you will still learn the basics of becoming an IDC Staff instructor, but you will not then see everything put into action in a real world IDC setting. Following this shorter option though, you can always come back when you have more time and gain that experience staffing an IDC at a later date.
If you are interested in improving your teaching skills and knowledge, and becoming a member of the PADI Instructor Development team with our highly experienced Platinum PADI Course Director, then please drop us an email for further details. If you are already a PADI IDC Staff instructor, we also offer programmes to help you get more staffing experience, as well as Master Instructor and CDTC Prep programmes…
Choosing where to take your PADI IDC can prove a little daunting at first – there are many places offering the PADI Instructor Development Course, so how exactly do you choose your PADI IDC ? Here’s a few things to consider and questions to ask…
One factor to consider is how experienced is the person who will be teaching your PADI IDC. But what is experience and how is it measured ? For some people it’s just a case of asking ‘how long have you been a Course Director ?’. But really, it goes a little deeper than this. Time is a consideration, but it’s also good to know in which locations the Course Director has worked before – have they only taught in one location, or do they have experience of conducting PADI courses and skills in different locations with different water conditions and logistics ? Have they taught in cold and warm water ? Have they taught skills on wall dives, or just shallow sandy sites ? Do they have any experience teaching in strong currents ? Did they fast-track their way to Course Director, just meeting the minimum requirements, or did they spend a few years teaching in different locations ? It might also be worth checking if the Course Director will be teaching the whole course, or using less experienced IDC Staff Instructors to do the teaching, and if the Course Director advertised on the website is the same one that will be running the course. You can also check if the Course Director has much recent experience teaching IDCs by having a look at the second quarter Undersea Journal for each year and seeing if their name is listed in the Frequent Trainer Awards as being a ‘Platinum’ Course Director.
Questions to ask:
How long has the Course Director been conducting PADI IDCs ?
When did the Course Director become a Divemaster and an Instructor ?
Does the Course Director have the ‘Platinum’ rating ?
Will the Course Director teach the whole IDC ?
Where has the Course Director worked before, both as a Course Director and as an Instructor ?
How many students has the Course Director certified – both at recreational and professional levels ? And can I see a copy of their Student Count Report ?
With the revisions to the PADI IDC programme coming later in 2019, it is more important than ever to research your potential Course Director’s style of teaching. PADI will be putting a bigger emphasis on training whilst neutrally buoyant. Therefore, look for a Course Director that has experience teaching skills neutrally buoyant – not on the knees. Many Course Directors have adapted to this style of teaching already – with all skills being performed either on fin-tips or in mid-water. Have a look at the Course Director or dive centre’s Facebook pages for recent photographs from their training, and also read any blogs they may have posted regarding their training.
Another aspect to research is whether or not the IDC will be conducted using the most up-to-date and modern PADI eLearning materials. PADI have been encouraging the use of electronic materials for a while now, yet some IDCs are still being run using the paper materials to teach from. As a new instructor, it is important that you are familiar with, and comfortable with, these new PADI digital materials. During the IDC you should get a chance to utilise the full range of PADI digital products – eLearning student manuals, the PADI app, PADI Library app, and the Project AWARE app – as well as a workshop on how to certify divers using the updated Online Processing Centre.
Questions to ask:
Do you teach skills on knees or whilst neutrally buoyant ?
Have you written any blogs on this subject that I can read ?
Will be be using the latest digital PADI teaching materials in class ?
It’s important to know what facilities the dive centre that you are considering has. Do they have a comfortable, air-conditioned classroom ? Tropical destinations are very popular for PADI IDCs, and you want to make sure you will be comfortable in the classroom as that’s where the majority of course time is spent. You should also find out where the confined water and open water training will take place. Does the centre have a pool, and how suitable for training is it ? If, for example, the pool is too shallow it would be problematic to teach something like a hover, or 5 point descent without touching the bottom, where plenty of depth is required – a purpose built dive pool is ideal, with at least 3 metres depth. The pool should also be well-maintained – you don’t want an ear infection in the middle of your training. There should also be good equipment washing facilities, with different tanks for different pieces of equipment – washing wetsuits and regulators in the same water is not ideal. The water for rinsing equipment should be clean and changed frequently. You should look for a PADI Instructor Development Centre with a good reputation, and ask to see their facilities.
Questions to ask:
Do you have an air-conditioned classroom ?
How big is the classroom and how many candidates do you usually have per IDC ?
Do you have a private training pool ?
How deep is the pool ?
Before you sign-up for an IDC, you should also make yourself aware of the time commitment required. In accordance with PADI standards, an IDC can be taught in as little as seven days. Many PADI IDC centres offer course over nine or ten days, however this usually translates to long days in the classroom – sometimes twelve hours. There is a lot of information to take in during an IDC, plus you need to prepare for the next day after finishing. It is possible to find extended, more relaxed PADI IDCs where your day will finish around 4pm – giving you plenty of time to prepare your presentations for the next day, eat a good meal and relax a little. A 12 – 14 day IDC programme is ideal – any longer and you are losing time that you could be certified and teaching your own students with. After a relaxed 12 day IDC, you arrive at the Instructor Examination feeling relaxed and confident rather than stressed and tired. These slightly longer IDC programmes typically include extra workshops (such as Confined Water Dive 1 workshops, neutral buoyancy teaching, how to teach hovering effectively) and extra presentation practice, rather than just hitting the minimum training requirements set out by PADI. Ask to have a look at the schedule…
Questions to ask:
How long is the IDC programme ?
Are there any extra workshops ?
Are any Specialty Instructor ratings included ?
Do you conduct a ‘Mock I.E.’ ?
How many teaching presentations will I deliver ?
What time does each day start and finish ?
The location is perhaps the least important of these factors to consider, but it’s still something to think about. Most of an IDC is spent in the classroom, but it is nice to be able to go diving before or after the IDC to relax underwater with some mantas or sharks. It is also nice to take the course in a relatively quiet location, free from distractions. Also, after the IDC has finished, you will need to wait a week or so for your paperwork to be processed before you can start teaching. This is the perfect time to take some Specialty Instructor Training and learn even more. If this is something you’re considering, think about which Specialties you would like to teach. If you want to become an AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty Instructor, you need to be somewhere that offers current, if you want to teach the Wreck Diver Specialty, you would need a location with a wreck. Also find out if the Course Director has written any Distinctive Specialities, or can offer any unique Specialty instructor training which will help your CV stand out when applying for jobs – such as Manta Conservation Specialty. Some places, such as Koh Lanta, are very fortunate in that they can offer conditions and dive sites conducive for teaching most Specialties. And if you are looking to gain these extra qualifications, find out if the Course Director will be diving with you, or just asking a less experienced IDC Staff Instructor to do these dives instead.
Questions to ask:
What type of area is the dive centre located in ?
Do you offer any free diving before or after the IDC ?