Teaching Tips – Emergency Weight Drop

The emergency weight drop skill was added to the revised PADI® Open Water Diver course to teach student divers to drop their weights exactly as they would in an emergency and experience the sudden buoyancy increase. It’s different from, and should not be confused with, the weight removal and replacement skill. Student divers should learn to discard weights at the surface without hesitation, which in an emergency is very beneficial and can greatly improve the situation. Here are a few tips for teaching this skill:


Tip 1 – How to not damage the pool or lose weights in open water

  • Drop weights over an insensitive or protected area
  • In a pool, use soft weights, place a mat on the pool bottom or tie a rope around the pocket-weight handle or weight belt and hold one end so you can catch the weight when dropped
  • In open water, tie a rope around the pocket-weight handle or weight belt and clip it to a buoy so that when dropped, the weight will stay attached to the buoy
  • Position a certified assistant underwater to catch the weights

Tip 2 – How to make it realistic

  • Demonstrate and encourage a quick pull and immediate release of weights
  • Do not have divers pull weight, then control where it’s dropped
  • Do not have divers hand you the weight
  • You may have divers check the area to make sure all is clear, however, separate this step from the actual weight drop skill

Tip 3 – How to conduct the skill

  • Position student diver in water too deep in which to stand either in confined water or open water
  • Have diver start with regulator in the mouth, empty BCD, floating at eye level and gently kicking as needed
  • Have diver release enough weight to feel positive buoyancy, which does not have to be all weight worn
  • Repeat skill as necessary until diver masters the quick pull and drop

Save the Date: 2017 PADI Women’s Dive Day


In 2016, men and women from Michigan to the Maldives, Thailand to Turkey and everywhere in-between took part in more than 700 PADI® Women’s Dive Day events in 77 countries across the globe. New and expert divers came together, gearing up for everything from high tea on the high seas to shark dives and underwater cleanups.

Be part of the third annual PADI Women’s Dive Day on 15 July 2017. Promote your business and strengthen both the local and global dive community by hosting an event.


Registration will open soon.

Marketing is Everything


Article by John Kinsella

When I was looking for a pithy marketing quote to grab your attention for this article, I came across an interesting article listing no fewer than 72 separate definitions of the term “marketing”. Two definitions really stood out. The first, attributed to Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path, a highly successful email marketing company, claims that when done well, marketing is the business strategy: It is the value proposition, brand positioning and image to the world. It must be largely measurable and accountable around driving business goals. When not done well, Blumberg asserts, it’s an endless checklist of advertising and promotional to-dos that can never be completed. The second definition emphatically makes the same point. Regis McKenna, writing for the Harvard Business Review, said simply, “Marketing is everything.” 

If you agree, it makes solid business sense to prioritize your marketing efforts and get as much help as you can. Especially when that help is basically free. One of the most important benefits of PADI®Membership is marketing support, and it’s yours for the asking (or downloading). There’s a plethora of detailed information in your back issues of The Undersea Journal® and the valuable resources on the PADI Pros’ Site are at your disposal. Here’s a look at a few initiatives that should be on your strategic radar for 2017.

wdd_logoWomen and Diving

The second annual PADI Women’s Dive Day saw a doubling of interest in 2016 over 2015. Events organized by PADI Members worldwide grew from 330 to more than 700 and it’s going to be a focal point again in 2017. The goal is to increase the number of women in diving and bring more families into the sport. Research indicates that women make anywhere from 80-92 percent of the vacation decisions for the family, so attracting more women to the sport will invariably bring the families. “This year, in PADI Americas alone, we had almost 400 million (media) impressions for Women’s Dive Day,” said Katie Thompson, Director of Marketing. “If you register an event on PADI.com, people will find you.” You’ll see a preview of what’s in store this month, and there’ll be marketing support assets available in the first quarter of 2017. Mark 15 July 2017, the next PADI Women’s Dive Day, on your marketing calendar now.


My PADI Club

Another arrow in your 2017 marketing quiver has to be My PADI Club. This new premium membership product has the potential to become the cornerstone of your all-important digital marketing and social media marketing strategies. Take a look at the dedicated article in the December edition of the Surface Interval for early details of yet another great marketing initiative with PADI Dive Centers, Resorts and Members at the center. Make a point of being an early adopter.

New Advanced Open Water Diver Course

aow_name-315x203Along the same lines, speaking of cornerstones, the new Advanced Open Water Diver course is just that, for your entire continuing education program. Keep this front and center in your marketing strategy for 2017. Take a look at the article in the third quarter 2016 The Undersea Journal for detailed insights (and marketing tips) into just how the links between Advanced Open Water Diver and (almost) the entire suite of PADI courses can help you keep your continuing education courses full.

PADI Members have a wealth of wonderful marketing material at their fingertips; it just makes sense to make the most of it.

The New & Improved PADI Business Academy


While PADI’s 50th Anniversary marked a renewed focus on ocean conservation and industry prosperity, PADI Business Academy (PBA) has recharged its efforts to meet the expanding needs of PADI Members worldwide. Now there are two options for business development, PADI Business Academy Lite and PADI Business Academy.

PBA Lite is a one-day, regionally specific business development seminar offered in more global regions than ever before. It overviews tactics to attract more nondivers and promote continuing education to existing divers, while staying engaged with clientele through the vast amount of marketing channels in today’s tech-forward society. This program is designed both for members who haven’t previously attended a PBA as well as those who have and simply need to refresh and update their business practices. Also, PBA Lite costs less than the full program.

The full PBA is still conducted over two-days, this year with a renewed focus on hands-on workshops and networking. It guides you through integrating industry-specific business strategies and tactics that can be used to achieve business goals.

2017 PADI Business Academy Lite (One Day) Schedule

Day Month Location
23 February Chicago, Illinois, USA – Before Our World Underwater
19 April Calgary, Alberta, Canada
02 June Seattle, Washington, USA
20 September Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
18 October Denver, Colorado, USA

2017 PADI Business Academy (Two Day) Schedule

Day Month Location
24-25 January Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA
22-23 March Secaucus, New Jersey, USA – Before Beneath the Sea
05-06 April Houston, Texas, USA
03-04 May Rancho Santa Margarita, California, USA at PADI Regional Headquarters – Before the Scuba Show

To enroll for a PADI Business Academy 2016, please contact kyle.ingram@padi.com or call 800 729 7234 (US and Canada) or +1 949 858 7234, ext. 2356.

The Importance of Setting Goals

As the New Year beckons, people around the world are making resolutions and setting goals. Unfortunately, research shows that only eight percent of these goals will be kept or met. Whether running a major dive center or resort, or simply considering taking the step from divemaster to instructor, PADI Members are only going to succeed if they’re part of that eight percent.

Here are a few ways to make sure that’s you:

check-1Start today. Running a dive business keeps you busy. There’s always something that demands your immediate attention, and the temptation is to wait until there’s a perfect uninterrupted window to sit down and carefully consider business and personal goals. Sounds nice, but think back and try to identify the last time you had such a window. I’m willing to bet it was the summer after you graduated from secondary school. The solution is to start now and keep at it – one small step at a time.

check-2Keep at it. The 92 percent who fail to meet their goals likely set them in the New Year and check their progress the following July. Setting and achieving goals requires constant attention and frequent adjustment. Drill down into daily, weekly, and monthly actions you can take to achieve your goals. It’s an ongoing, organic process.

check-3Write the goals down and share them. No lecture here about SMART goals or other technicalities; just a suggestion to make sure you’re not the only one who knows about them. Some people keep them posted on a “goals board” in the staff room, others use a digital equivalent to set regular reminders. One powerful option for PADI Members is to attend a PADI Business Academy and have their PADI Regional Manager help with this; Regional Managers have significant experience in the development and maintenance of growth opportunities within the industry, and their knowledge is a crucial business resource.

The real-world evidence that relates setting goals to business growth speaks for itself. A recent study of PADI Members in Japan found that members who set and stuck to their goals – they participated in PADI’s Goals for Growth program – saw an average increase in entry-level certifications of nearly 16 percent over than those who didn’t.

Even more impressive are the continuing education statistics, goal setters enjoyed increases of more than 26 percent in core curriculum and 20 percent in specialty certifications compared with members who didn’t participate in the program.

“We never really set goals like this in the past. We have seen the positive effects setting goals can bring, and we plan to continue,” said one member. “I made a specific Goals for Growth plan and checked it every day. It has been very helpful in making our business successful. Step by step, setting a Goals for Growth plan will help my business be successful,” said another.


And, from an individual member perspective, sticking to your goals can be truly life changing. One hard working diver I had the pleasure of working with recently is heading off to the Caribbean as a newly minted PADI Divemaster; careful and determined goal setting helped her balance a busy career as a freelance graphic designer with her dive education, and now she’s reaping the rewards.

Make sure you’re an eight percenter in 2017; take your first step toward setting goals today.

PADI Pro, Rocio Gajon, Sets Out to Save Our Ocean Planet – One Diver at a Time

PADI IDC Staff Instructor and AmbassaDiverTM Rocio Gajon shares her personal strategy for protecting our ocean planet and tells how her fellow PADI Professionals can do their part by capturing new customers – and keeping their divers diving.

PADI: When did you start diving?

Rocio: When I was 16 years old, I visited family on the coast of Baja California. The Mexican government had recently established Cabo Pulmo as a National Marine Reserve Park and many of the sons of former fisherman were becoming Divemasters so they could participate in protecting the ocean and beaches. They took me scuba diving and I was like, “This is it! This is for me!”


PADI: How did you come to be so passionate about ocean conservation?

Rocio: I grew up in La Paz, Mexico, on the Sea of Cortez. Many people who reside there cannot swim and are actually afraid of the ocean. But not me! Ever since I was a little girl, I was curious about all of those magical moving shapes and colors under the water’s surface. From the first time I put on a little mask and snorkel, my mom couldn’t get me out of the water.

However, there came a time when the magical creatures I had enjoyed so much in childhood began to disappear from the sea, and I was compelled to do something about it.

PADI: Why did you move from PADI diver to PADI Divemaster?

Rocio: I wanted to be able to teach children to scuba dive so they could know what was under the waves and be motivated to protect the life there. This desire came to the forefront when I was 17 years old and I got hired to work at PADI’s Five Star Dive Center, The Cortez Club in La Paz, Mexico, on the coast of the Sea of Cortez. The store commissioned me to run their Kids’ Club program. I taught kids to swim and snorkel. We also did a lot of Project AWARE® activities, such as runs and beach clean-ups. I loved every minute of it!

I became a PADI Divemaster because I wanted to take a more active role in turning these kids into scuba divers — so I could say, “Let’s go see all the marine animals we’ve been talking about!” Also, the dive shop offered PADI Discover Scuba® Diving events – and I really wanted to participate! So I got my PADI Divemaster rating.


PADI: What precipitated your move up to PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI)?

Rocio: Nine years ago, I came to the United States and landed a job at a sporting goods retailer in Southern California called Sports Chalet. I was originally hired as a Sales Associate, but soon I was working there as a Divemaster on the weekends, too, conducting PADI Discover Scuba® Diving events and helping with dive classes. Becoming a PADI Instructor was the logical next step for me, because I want to pass my knowledge on to other people — and I cannot take on conservation alone! By teaching people to dive, I show them what there is to protect, so they will love it and want to protect it too.

The Course Director for my IDC was Graham Hufford – and he was instrumental my success. Because English was my second language, I had to study twice as hard as the other candidates. Nevertheless, I refused to take the course in Spanish because I was going to be teaching it in English. Graham was so supportive; he spent extra time making sure I understood everything. He also encouraged me and never gave up on me.

PADI: Why did you become an IDC Staff Instructor?

Rocio: I had already been promoted to Scuba Department Manager at Sports Chalet and I had a lot of instructors working under my supervision. I felt I needed this extra knowledge to be an effective coach for them.

Also, whenever we conducted an IDC, I noticed there was a crew of people at the back of the room to coach the candidates. I asked, “Who are they?” and the answer was, “IDC Staff Instructors”. I saw my future pass before my eyes: I instantly knew that I wanted to be one, too – to help people become scuba instructors.



Advice for PADI Pros

PADI: Do you have any advice for PADI Pros on how to encourage people to try diving?

Rocio: The best way to encourage others to dive is to be a diver. Never lose your spirit. Continue learning and sharing your knowledge. Remember, when you find the job you love, you’ll never ‘work’ again.

PADI: How can PADI Pros motivate their student divers to keep diving / take continuing education courses?

Rocio: Praise them for their achievements – never let an achievement go unnoticed. Also, point them in the direction that suits them best, whether that is to continue as recreational divers or to become PADI Pros.

PADI: Do you have any suggestions for how to be successful as PADI Divemaster?

Rocio: Learn a lot, dive a lot and share a lot – and continue your professional education. Remember, it is your unique style and experience that will make you a great instructor.

PADI: Do you have any suggestions for how to be successful as PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor?

Rocio: Always remember the day you started diving. Empathize with students’ fears and help them overcome them through knowledge, practice and patience!

PADI: How can PADI Instructors and Course Directors motivate their Divemasters to continue on to Open Water Scuba Instructor?

Rocio:  Remind them that this is not just about diving! It is about the future of our planet and conservation of our oceans – because the more people who see what we see in the aquatic realm, the more awareness is spread. The sooner we make people aware, the sooner we can change the world!

PADI: What does “My PADI” mean to you?

Rocio: My PADI means structure – functional, reliable, enduring structure. I have a passion for diving and I can talk about it all day, but PADI gives me the structure I need to convert my enthusiasm into something other people can use to meet their personal goals, and then brag about it –  ‘I got my PADI certification!’

My PADI means I can inspire others to explore the oceans.

My PADI means living the scuba life of my dreams!

To learn more about Rocio, visit the My PADI website.

Dive Barbecues – An Essential Ingredient


Blog article by John Kinsella

I was listening to an interview on the radio this morning. A “relationship expert” was making a good case for online dating. People are busy these days, she said, the traditional ways of meeting people aren’t working, and, in the USA at least, starting a relationship online is the new norm. But, and it’s a big one, the friendly relationship expert pointed out that for the new online relationship to actually work for real, the trick is to meet, in person, soon.

It made me think about something that has come up a lot, both recently and consistently over the years, in the dive business: Starting relationships with new customers online may be the new norm, but time and again, successful dive businesses and dive professionals manage to turn the conversation to the social end of things. When I’m trying to find out why a particular business does a great job of attracting the Millennials, I’m told that hosting barbecues at a local shore diving site is an important factor. When I want to uncover the secret to making women a bigger proportion of the business, I’m told that one vital thing is to make the dive resort an easy place to hang out with the family. And so on.


And then last weekend I found myself at the annual divers’ party. It’s a simple formula: A few tables reserved at a central hostelry, some finger food, and making everyone feel welcome. Everyone on the mailing list, old and new, is invited. There were people there with two decades of dive experience mingling and chatting with people who finished open water course two weeks ago. Everywhere I looked there were small animated and ever changing groups: Ray was holding court on his new rebreather. He started talking about this at least a year ago and recently bit the bullet. Brian was buzzing about a recent dive trip to the Arctic, you could actually see the enthusiasm infect those around him (though a few did regard him with a look often reserved for those who have lost their minds). Willie was talking about an underwater film shoot he’s working on, and I think he managed to sign up another batch of victims for his latest experiment on the night: “Just hold your breath, look natural, smile, and I’ll have Jimmy here tie this rope to your waist and jerk you underwater violently on cue.”

There’s no denying people enjoy a good night out in the company of friends. Perhaps it’s even more important than ever these digital, social media dominated, days to take a look at the real social part of your business. Anyone up for a barbecue?