When you are certified as a PADI Open Water Diver you are licensed to dive with another certified diver.  The depth is limited to a maximum of 18m. Just you and your buddy. For a lot of divers this can seem like an overwhelming task. Mastering how to comfortably and safely lead a dive is a massive turning point in your dive training. Here are a few tips to help you when leading a dive.

Leading A Dive With Confidence

Remember, diving should always a fun adventure. However, no matter what, the primary goal in diving is always diver safety. This may mean sometimes having to make decision based on a diver’s ability or environmental conditions, and that decision may be to end the dive. No two dives are the same but the priority should always be safety.

Continue your Education

With the Open Water Dive Course you learn the basics of how to be a safe diver. When you pass your PADI OWD it is highly suggest that you continue your diving education. The more you know the more likely you are to experience reduced anxiety and feel much more comfortable. After completing your PADI OWD you are eligible for the Advanced Open Water Course. In this course you will get a taste of five different PADI specialties. It is a requirement to complete the navigation dive where you will learn patterns and navigational techniques.

If you want more of a challenge, to develop the skills and awareness you need to look after not just your own safety and comfort, but also that of the other divers with you then you will want to complete the PADI Rescue Diver Course. We always need to be the most prepared for any situation at hand. The Rescue Diver Course will help guide you on how to deal with stress, recognize problems, perform both dry and in-water rescues, administer first aid for dive injuries and much more.

Become a Professional Diver

If you really want to take it to the next level your option would to become a professional diver yourself. This would be a the Divemaster program, even if you are not planning to work in the industry this course can help provide you with the confidence and practice that you need.

One of the key elements of our Divemaster program is unlimited fun diving during the course. You can do up to four dives a day, sometimes even five if you would like to do a night dive. Having the ability to practice these skills every day for weeks will turn you into a fantastic diver.

A big part of the course is assisting on diving courses and leading other divers. This gives you hands-on experience on how to deal with different divers and situations.

Read How to prepare for your Divemaster course

Know your limits! Both your own and the divers with you!

When diving in a group it is important to respect the limitations of all the divers. In a group of four divers all holding their Advanced Open Water Diver certification, the is still a wide scope for differences in air consumption, additional experience, and each person’s physical and mental capabilities. One way to help you prepare is to to have a quick chat with all the divers and find out everyone’s diving history. Key questions to ask would be; how many dives do you have, where have you been diving, and in what kind of conditions?

All recreational dives should be planned based on the comfort of the diver who has the least experience. It is important to have a friendly atmosphere where divers are comfortable to speak up if the dive plan might be beyond their experience or training.

Remember the limits we have in diving are maximums not requirements. Just because everyone is certified to 30 meters does not mean we have to go to 30 meters. We must base our decisions on good judgment regarding factors like the environmental conditions, and the comfort and safety of the entire group.

Give a good briefing

Having a good, concise briefing can make or break your dive. This gives you a great chance to go over all the details of what is going to happen. Everyone knows what to expect from start to finish on the dive.

In the dive briefing there should be details such as dive site description, signal review, emergency procedure, the role of the leader, entry and exit techniques, equipment assembly, and , of course, the pre-dive safety check.

It is really important that all lines of communications are clear and that all divers are on the same page. This is a great opportunity to ask divers if they have any issues with their ears or their buoyancy. That way, as a group, you can discuss what do if any problems arise. Since the plan has already been discussed on the surface, should a problem occur on the dive, at least everyone will be prepared.

When conducting a briefing the whole dive should be covered from start to finish. Think about the upcoming dive like a story, what is going to happen from the minute we put on our equipment, till the minute we take our equipment off.

Leading a dive, start with a killer briefing

Keep it simple, and go slow!

When it comes to navigation the best advice is do not over-complicate it! When it comes to navigation, it may well be the case that a simple reciprocal heading will do the trick, or to follow another simple pattern like a square or a circle. 
And please, GO SLOW. This is one of the most common mistakes of new dive leaders. They race through the dive site. The slower you go the more chances you will have to see interesting marine life. Some of the coolest marine life isn’t always out in the open but his hiding in the little cracks or deep inside a bubble coral. Take the time to look. Use a torch and go nice and slow, this will also help conserve energy and will help with air consumption.

Another scuba diving tip is to keep the dive plan easy! If you are lucky enough to be diving somewhere that has a dive site map available, this can be a great advantage. Make a copy of the map on a dive slate, this way you can look for any kind of key indicators, things like depth or unique features. If a map is not available don’t be shy to ask someone who is more experienced in the area for tips and suggestions!

Twins Dive Site Map, Leading a Dive

Have confidence in yourself. 
You can do this!

Follow the advice above and you will have a great dive lead. It is always a good idea to make a self-assessment before a dive. This means evaluating your own physical health and fitness for diving. Make sure you are comfortable with the conditions and environment. Remember if anything makes you feel uncomfortable then there is no problem in speaking up and saying so. It is actually a sign of responsible diver behavior

So there you have it 5 tips for leading a dive!

Keep broadening your dive education, every dive is an opportunity to learn and develop your skills. Whether you want to know more about equipment or fish identification, the further you continue your education the better.

Always make sure to recognize your own limitations as well as the limitations of the group, make a comfortable and enjoyable setting for all the divers.
 Keep those lines of communication clear, talk to you divers, give them a full briefing. 
Don’t over complicate things!

Finally have confidence in yourself. You can do it. If you use good judgement and follow the standards and safe diving practices that you have been taught, then you should have an excellent dive!

Tell us about your first dive lead experience!

About the Author

DM Mentor MaddyMaddy left Canada in 2013 with the plan of traveling South East Asia for six months. Those
months have now turned into years. On her travels she became a certified PADI dive
instructor and now runs the PADI Divemaster program at Sairee Cottage Diving..

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1 Comment
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