A few thoughts on instructors

Me back when I was first learning to dive

Me back when I was first learning to dive

As I recently just completed some further training I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on the instructors/dive guides that I have had over the years. I remember reading a blog post by Tim Ferris who stated that the fastest way to become good at something is to emulate someone who is already good at it. I have taken this as my mantra and I encourage my students to do the same. I encourage them to find other instructors, instructors who have more experience than me. Because they may have more insight, better methods, or might just be a better instructor than me. In fact, find the best instructor they can – which might even be me 😉

However, there is a problem with this. What if your instructor is not good, how can you tell? It is very difficult for the newcomer to distinguish who is a good instructor and who is not. A recent post on the Simply Scuba blog, they are a UK company that sells scuba gear, tells the tale of a scuba instructor on holiday with his son. I won’t go into all the details as you can read it here, but the short of it that it could have been a disaster waiting to happen. Did his son know about the problems or worries that his father was having, no he did not. He was just so excited to have been diving.

As diving professionals we need to make sure that we are showing how things are done. That means we should have exemplary  behaviour. Students should look at us and say “I want to dive like that.” We should be approachable and knowledgeable. We should not be diving by the seat of our pants, instead our dives should be planned and  we should be showing our fellow divers how to make sure they are planning properly too.

Let me recall an encounter I had with an experienced instructor at a dive site where the visibility was poor. If you have ever dived with me, or have been reading this blog for any time you will know that I prefer to frog kick. It is the best kick, in my opinion, as it allows a nice kick and glide with very little chance of disturbing what is below you. I don’t insist that you should dive like me, but I do insist that you don’t disturb the bottom with your finning. The visibility at this dive site was fairly poor and this instructor was silting out with every kick that he made. If he had been a student of mine then I would have stopped him right there and pointed to what he had done, so he could see the mess that he was creating behind him. On this occasion I did not get a chance to speak to him about it but I do plan to the next time I see him. The problem is that dive students will emulate his behaviours. This means that every student that he teaches will silt out the bottom just like he does (OK that might be an exaggeration but you get what I mean).

I think the take away from this is that no matter who you are, you could be doing it better. And if you see someone not reaching their full potential or doing something that they shouldn’t, then you should tell them.

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