How to scuba dive for beginners with 7 key skills and tips to master as you learn to scuba dive
If you are about to learn how to scuba dive or you’ve just begun your scuba diver training, this article is an important one.
How to scuba dive for beginners is all about learning to scuba dive safely. Included in this article are 7 top skills to learn as a beginner scuba diver. These are: Skill #1: Never hold your breath; Skill #2: Equalise your ears early and often; Skill #3: Learn buoyancy control and to become neutrally buoyant; Skill #4: Learn to clear your mask; Skill #5: Learn to clear your regulator; Skill #6: Release air from your BCD on your ascent; Skill #7: Always perform a safety stop at 5-6 metres (16-20 feet).
How to scuba dive for beginners
This article is about ‘how to scuba dive for beginners.’ I’ve listed the top 7 key skills you need to master as you learn to scuba dive, which begins with the most important rule of scuba diving: Never hold your breath.
Here are the seven key skills to master as a beginner scuba diver:
Important skill #1 for beginner scuba divers – Never hold your breath
The first and the most important skill to learn and understand is to never hold your breath when you’re scuba diving. Let me say that once more, as it’s probably one of the most important lessons as you learn to scuba dive: Never hold your breath.
When you’re on land and breathing in your normal environment, holding your breath isn’t a problem. But when you’re under water, that’s another story.
To avoid holding your breath, the best thing to do is when you’ve taken a breath, is to slowly release the air from your lungs. To do this when your regulator is out of your mouth, blow a constant stream of bubbles. That way your lungs are always releasing the air inside.
Alternatively, when your regulator is in your mouth, just breath slowly and normally, that way you never hold your breath.
Click this link to learn more about why holding your breath is dangerous. See tip number 4 of the 26 rules for safe scuba diving (But please read all 26 as a beginner scuba diver).
Important skill #2 for beginner scuba divers – Equalise your ears early and often
You’ve probably experienced the pressure on your ears as you’ve descending into the deep end of a swimming pool. That’s because of the increased pressure of the water.
When you scuba dive, you go even deeper than you can as a swimmer. That means you will need to equalise your ears, as you descend.
As soon as you leave the surface, pinch your nose and blow gently down your nose. This is known as the Valsalva maneuver, which forces the Eustachian tubes open.
Your Eustachian tubes connect from the back of your throat to the middle ear. When you force them open in this way, the air pressure is equalised.
The best tip during the first 10 metres (33 feet) or so, is for you to keep your fingers on your nose. Keep performing the Valsalva maneuver to avoid the pressure build up on your ear drums.
You will feel a ‘pop’ in your ears when they are cleared. Keep doing this all the way to the bottom or to the depth of your dive.
Important skill #3 for beginner scuba divers – Learn buoyancy control and to become neutrally buoyant
The ideal state for scuba divers is neutral buoyancy. Neutral buoyancy is when your ‘effective body mass‘ is equal to the mass of the surrounding water.
To achieve and to maintain neutral buoyancy you need to use your Buoyancy Control Device (BCD).
As you descend on your dive, you become increasingly negatively buoyant. Which means you will need to compensate for this by adding air to your BCD.
The tip is to add very small amounts of air each time until you achieve neutral buoyancy.
Some of the benefits of scuba diving whilst neutrally buoyant include:
- You’ll not be constantly fighting to stay off the bottom. This is particularly important when scuba diving on a coral reef, to avoid damaging the reef.
- Achieving and maintaining neutral buoyancy will help you to conserve your air.
- If you conserve your air you will increase your dive time and dive for much longer.
Important skill #4 for beginner scuba divers – Learn to clear your mask
There are a number of reasons why you may need to clear your mask of water. These include the following reasons:
- An ill-fitting mask that leaks under water.
- Your mask may get knocked and fill with water.
- Your mask may fog up and one way to clear it underwater is to let a small amount of water in and swill it around, then clear it again.
Whatever the reason for needing to clear your mask, this is an important skill to master as a beginner scuba diver.
Make note, that you should master this skill using just one hand. You never know when you might need to use your other hand for something else at the same time.
Important skill #5 for beginner scuba divers – Learn to clear your regulator
The are a few reasons why you might want to clear your regulator, which include the following:
- Your regulator may get knocked from your mouth by a fellow scuba diver’s fin.
- You may have a dry mouth, so you can take your regulator out of your mouth and take in a small amount of water and swill it around in your mouth to take away the dryness.
To clear your regulator underwater, you first need to point the mouthpiece downwards. Secondly, press the purge button to release some air through your regulator in order to clear out any water.
Then place the regulator back into your mouth. When your regulator has been out of your mouth underwater, even if you’ve purged it, you are better to first breath out, before your first in-breath.
That way you make sure you clear any excess water. But more importantly, you won’t inhale water.
Important skill #6 for beginner scuba divers – Release air from your BCD on your ascent
When you ascend from your dive you will become positively buoyant. As you ascend from your dive you will need to release air from your Buoyancy Control Device (BCD). If you don’t you will end up rushing to the surface out of control.
Important skill #7 for beginner scuba divers – Always perform a safety stop a 5-6 metres (16-20 feet)
When you scuba dive safety is the number one priority. Always remember that scuba diving is classed as a dangerous sport. So I recommend to treat it that way and respect the water.
With that said, there’s no need to be afraid of scuba diving, as it’s perfectly safe if you follow all the safety guidelines. Also, make sure you listen carefully to your scuba diver instructor. Make sure you learn the theory to scuba diving too.
But above all, always perform a safety stop at 5-6 metres (16-20 feet) at the end of every dive. If you’re not sure about the difference between a safety stop and an emergency decompression stop, click this link to read about emergency decompression stops vs safety stops.
I hope you enjoyed this article about how to scuba dive for beginners
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about how to scuba dive for beginners), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.
Have fun and be safe!