Scuba Tune Ups, Refreshers: Why they are so important.

Your new customers arrive, time to get them booked in and liability Release forms completed along with the questions “What level diver are you?” “How many dives have you logged?” and one of the most important “When was your last dive?”

Countless times (and I’m sure thousands of dive pro’s out there will echo this comment) I hear variations along the lines of “last week” “Oh a few months ago” “Definitely less than a year!”

There’s a couple of things I’d like to point out before going any further;

  1. Some people do ACTUALLY lie
  2. Some people want to save a bit of money (fair play, we all do)
  3. Some people dive at high-end resorts where everything is done for them
  4. A lot of people think they are better than what they actually are.

If I was to put a percentage on those people needing to refresh their skills against those who don’t after seeing them in the water, I wouldn’t be far wrong when I say over 80%. So let me address the 4 points I’ve made:

  1. Don’t lie, we can see it as soon as you start to set up and even more so in the water
  2. Save money some other way
  3. If you’re at a high-end resort insist on at least doing the first set up yourself and ask if you are not sure of the steps
  4. NEWS FLASH – you’re not, a clever diver is one that learns, a dangerous diver is one that thinks he/she knows it all. You can never stop learning in this sport so be open.

I have made it compulsory at my place of work that ALL new guests wishing to dive will set-up their equipment for the initial dive even before stepping on the boat, conduct pre-dive checks of that equipment & complete buddy checks prior to entering the water. You will be amazed at how many “experienced” divers cannot complete these 3 stages.

Basically it boils down to skill fade, it dwells in everything we do, much like training in the gym and then having a lengthy spell out of it, the muscles need reminding of what is required when you do eventually return to it. Well the brain is a muscle and it needs reminding too.

Only today I had an incident involving a diver with 87 dives under his belt and qualified as Advanced Open Water. In short, whilst at 21m his mask strap broke and panic set in. After controlling his ascent (wrapping his legs up) I gave him my mask and settled him down whilst I continued with the broken one. That’s not a reflection of this chaps inexperience¬†(I think 87 dives is a commendable number for a recreational diver) or me being an absolute hero (jokes) I see it more as a perfect example of skill fade. I bet the last time he had to remove his mask was in Open Water training (if it was actually done) so of course, he is as susceptible to skill fade as much as I am when missing the gym.

Panic – ‘A sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly…..’ (Source –

In essence, that extra few quid that you would rather spend at the bar, don’t! Be honest with yourself, if not for you then do it for your dive buddies and the dive guide you are with because once you have a wobble moment you never know what may be the end result.

I taught a young lady her Rescue course a few years ago and she had a major issue with water in her mask, so much so, that we halted the course until she had practiced off the beach in knee-high water and in the shower just filling and clearing her mask. That awesome young lady went on to become a Dive Pro, and a bloody good one at that!

Practice, practice, practice…… the dive industry like any other does progress, amendments and improvements happen all the time which you may not be aware of. With practice your brain delivers the right signals to all parts of the body for a given situation and stems the panic setting in. So why try to dodge it? You must always, ALWAYS know your basics inside and out, practice makes perfect and in all seriousness, could one day save your life so the next holiday you’re planning for factor in a pool session or refresher upon arrival and dive stress free.


Featured Image: James Emery Photography



2 thoughts on “Scuba Tune Ups, Refreshers: Why they are so important.

  1. 100 percent agree. I havent dived in a few years No way I would without a refresher. As you may remember Matt I work in a high stress job. As recently as a week ago I had a very serious incident. They happen fairly often. Even though it’s not new every emergency is different and I am always amazed how I go into autopilot. Shake with the adrenalin after but training always kicks in. Don’t sleep well for a few nights though.

    With having a refresher and experience in high stress I hope I could hold back panic by forcing myself to stop first. Recognize and evaluate, respond. Lacking enough dive experience as I do, a refresher is a no brainer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Matt, Mate, great reasurance that at least one centre manager is taking it all seriously. That said, from my and Sarah’s experience, the majority of resort and dive operators do make people go through those confirmatory steps. Keep it up, me old. Hallelujah!

    Liked by 1 person

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