PADI IDC, Delayed SMB Specialty Instructor, Platinum Course Director, Divemaster, IDC

The PADI Delayed SMB Specialty

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…

PADI IDC, Delayed SMB Specialty Instructor, Platinum Course Director, Divemaster, IDC

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 in when teaching wreck or navigation dives/Specialties.

PADI IDC, Navigation Dive, Reel Spool, dSMB, Specialty Instructor

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.

PADI IDC, Delayed SMB, Specialty Instructor, Platinum Course Director Richard Reardon

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…

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Neutrally Buoyant PADI IDC

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.

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutrally Buoyant, Platinum Course Director

It starts with Confined Water Dive #1 of the Open Water Course.  During our IDCs the cfirst 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.

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutrally Buoyant, Platinum Course Director

We also then conduct a neutrally buoyant skill circuit, with all skills demonstrated on fin-tips – staying off the knees.

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutrally Buoyant, Platinum Course Director

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutrally Buoyant, Platinum Course Director

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.

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutrally Buoyant, Platinum Course Director

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutrally Buoyant, Platinum Course Director

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutrally Buoyant, Platinum Course Director

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…

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutrally Buoyant, Platinum Course Director

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

PADI IDC Thailand, IDC Staff Instructor, CDTC Prep, Divemaster Internships

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PADI IDC Staff Open Water, Thailand, Phuket, Richard Reardon Platinum Course Director

PADI IDC Staff Instructor Course

PADI IDC Staff Instructor Course. Phuket, Thailand, Platinum Course Director

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…

PADI IDC Staff Open Water, Thailand, Phuket, Richard Reardon Platinum Course Director

So, what do you gain from the training ? After certification you will be able to:

Independently teach PADI Assistant Instructor courses

Assist on PADI Instructor Development Courses

Get closer to applying for the PADI Master Instructor rating

Improve your own teaching – especially of Divemaster courses

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…

PADI IDC Staff Course, Thailand, Platinum Course Director Richard Reardon

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.

PADI IDC Staff Course, Thailand, Phuket, Platinum Course Director

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.

PADI IDC Staff, Phuket, Thailand, Staffing Credit, Master instructor, CDTC

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…

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Teaching Tips: Hovering…

During PADI IDC training, it’s not uncommon for people to struggle with the hovering skill. This is a basic buoyancy skill, and should be mastered during the Open Water course, but all too often it is not – it is taught, but not to a mastery level. There is one simple trick I learned which made it much easier for me to get my Open Water students to mater this skill – and it comes down to understanding the situations in which we would hover whilst diving…

Another factor in helping your students master this skill is how you have taught the preceding skills up to this point in their training – they should already have a basic understanding and feeling of neutral buoyancy at this point.

In Confined Water Dive #1 we teach the ‘breathing underwater‘ skill. This should be the first skill to teach, and if you haven’t lazily over-weighted your students, they should already have a good understanding of how breathing effects buoyancy. When we reach Confined Water Dive #2, we have our students master the neutral buoyancy skill – usually by the ‘fin pivot’ method. Now the students really get to grips with how changing lung volume changes depth too as they ‘rise and fall in a controlled manner, during inhalation and exhalation’.

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutral Buoyancy, Platinum Course Director, Best CD

Making the transition to the hover in Confined Water Dive #3 should now be relatively easy, but you can make it even easier for them still. During the briefing for the ‘fin pivot’, I explain to students that this slow deep breathing is a good pattern for when they are swimming around a dive site – slow, relaxed, deep inhalations and exhalations. When it’s time to brief the hover, I remind them of this, but add that if you want to stop to look at something, it’s best to change that breathing pattern to slightly shorter breaths. If the lung volume is changing less, the change to the diver’s depth will be less, and they can have a good look at that nudibanch on the wall…

The next thing I do, to make it easier for them, is to give the student a visual reference. I stand next to them with my hand in front of them, and brief that the idea is to use their lungs to keep their eyes level with my hand. If their eyes go above my hand, they should exhale a little, and if their eyes go below my hand, they need to inhale a little. Once they have the level right, the shorter breaths will help them hold that position.

PADI IDC Phuket, Thailand, Platinum Course Director

This visual reference makes the skill much easier to master for the student. In Confined Water Dive #4, when hovering is repeated with oral inflation, I start the skill the same way, but then remove the visual reference once they have their level, and now they should be able to hover perfectly without a visual reference, as they may have to do during a safety stop on a real dive…

If you would like more tips on teaching PADI courses, come join us for your PADI IDC or PADI IDC Staff Instructor courses at Go Pro In Paradise

Email for further details – info@go-pro-in-paradise.com

PADI IDC Thailand, IDC Staff Instructor, CDTC Prep, Divemaster Internships

Teaching Tips: The most important skill…

PADI IDC Thaialnd, Confined Water, Go Pro, Scuba Instructor

Mask clearing ? C.E.S.A. ? Neutral buoyancy ? No, for me it’s ‘breathing underwater’ from Confined Water Dive 1. Not only is it essential to stay alive, but it the basis of everything that happens underwater…

PADI IDC Bali, Indonesia, Confined Water, Teaching Diving, Scuba Instructor

Quite often on an Open Water course this skill gets brushed over and taught too quickly. But if you spend the time explaining the importance and the effect of breathing correctly underwater, you might find that your entire Open Water Course will flow more smoothly. As an instructor, do not be too quick to place extra weight on the student’s belt when they can’t descend at the start of Confined Water Dive 1. Instead, take the time to explain the correct breathing pattern, and the importance of emptying the lungs on exhalation. Once the student divers do this, they should descend more easily, and now right from the beginning, they have understood the correlation between breathing and buoyancy.

PADI IDC Phuket, Thailand, Platinum Course Director, CDTC Prep

Sometimes at the beginning of an Open Water Course, the students are a little nervous, and this can affect their breathing pattern too. Once underwater, I then take the time to teach the correct breathing pattern before attempting mask clearing or regulator skills. I treat this skill underwater as an introduction to the fin pivot. I ask them to lie down from the first moment they go underwater – never on the knees –  practising equalising as they do so.  Then I ask them to watch my hand as I coax them into a relaxed, correct breathing pattern. As they do this, I add little amounts of air to their BCDs to get them neutrally buoyant, so they are fin pivoting, and continue with the rest of the skills in this ‘diving’ position. If I find that I need to add a significant amount of air, then I will remove a weight from their belts, as they are over-weighted. Now the students will truly start to understand the importance of the correct breathing pattern underwater and the effect this has on buoyancy, depth, and position in the water, and your Open Water Course will be easier to teach, and more importantly, your students will be better divers…

To learn more tips about teaching PADI courses why not enrol in one of our PADI IDC or PADI IDC Staff Instructor courses – email for further details – rich@go-pro-in-paradise.com

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