Take Active Steps to Keep Your PADI Pro Career Fresh

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By John Kinsella

It’s hard to beat the excitement and anticipation of that first job as a PADI® Instructor. Mine was on St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. It lived up to my every expectation: great colleagues, truly staggering location and best of all actually making a (modest) living in the dive industry.

The core of the work was running Discover Scuba® Diving experiences for cruise ship visitors. We’d go down to the dock to pick up the guests on our custom trucks, complete with fringed sunshades, bring them by the shop for the dive briefing and then drive over to this magical little sandy beach where we had a tour laid out. It was an extremely well organized system and ran like clockwork. It was great fun, at first.

Six months later, let’s just say that I didn’t look forward to the next DSD® with the same enthusiasm. For PADI Pros, and for professionals in any line of work, it’s important to take active steps to keep things fresh. Here are a couple of ways to do just that.

The big one is to simply mix it up. Variety, as the saying goes, is the spice of life. In my case in the Virgin Islands, I positioned myself to get assigned to Open Water Diver courses. All it took was letting my boss know I wanted to and a bit of persistence. While the opportunities were not as abundant, the difference it made was staggering and as a bonus, I went back to the DSDs with renewed vigor. I also, with some success, looked for every opportunity to enthusiastically promote the Open Water Diver course. The result was good for everyone: DSD participants became divers, the shop benefitted from return customers, and I staved off ennui.

This approach works at all levels and in all locations. Later, running a fledgling dive business in Ireland, the dominant course was, as you might expect, Open Water Diver. The solution in this case was to prioritize continuing education. The joy of running the first Advanced Open Water Diver course was memorable. It made use of different dive sites, was much easier and more profitable to run (all that stuff in the IDC is true!) and the participants went on to become long term customers and firm friends. Everybody wins.

Another great way to keep enthusiasm high is to take another, different, course yourself. Recently I bumped into a friend and part time colleague in the coffee shop. Hugh is a PADI Divemaster and a great coxswain. He’s one of those people you are always happy to see when teaching a course or running a dive trip. He mentioned he had just signed up for the Tec 40 course. He said he was really looking forward to being the student for a while instead of the divemaster. He was also just curious to see what the TecRec® courses were all about and felt that even if he didn’t go down the hardcore Tec road, the skills and knowledge would certainly not hurt his recreational deep dives. He’s still going to become an instructor (and I know he’ll be a great one) but this little “detour” is nothing if not fun.

Do everyone a favor, especially yourself, and just do something different once in a while as a PADI Pro. It’s not hard to find something fun to do underwater.

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:

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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