Skill-Building Scuba Games
By Jesse Iacono
Contributors: Mark Phillips, Thomas Johnson, Christopher Richardson, Dillon Waters
Scuba divers are a fun-loving group of individuals; that’s the point of the activity! Most divers understand the importance of keeping their skill set fresh, but not everyone gravitates towards the idea of running through skill circuits during their precious underwater time. Skill-building games can be used by classes and certified buddy teams alike to bring some more fun into the process. Building in time for practice is key for every diver, so try some of these on your next dive, or jump in the pool with a buddy in between expeditions to keep yourself sharp.
Hula hoops are attached to weights by varying lengths of line to make them float at different depths. Divers must swim through the hoop without any part of their body or equipment touching it.
Awareness – the diver becomes aware of their enlarged profile due to scuba equipment and realizes the space and position their body/equipment takes in the environment.
Buoyancy – the diver uses their breath to fine-tune their buoyancy as they pass through the obstacle.
Different shapes can be made from pvc tubing.
Different sizes of hula hoops can be used.
Divers swim through the hoops performing different maneuvers – corkscrew spin, different fin kicks, etc.
Weight Hot Potato
Weights of varying sizes are brought to the bottom. Divers arrange in a line or circle, the first diver picks up a weight, adjusts their buoyancy, and then hands the weight off to the next diver. As the weight moves down the line, the donating and receiving divers must adjust their buoyancy to stay neutral.
Buoyancy – the diver adjusts to neutral buoyancy for varying amounts of weight and reacts quickly to sudden changes in buoyancy.
Control – the diver stays in formation while remaining neutral and stationary.
Task Loading – the diver’s other skills must be second nature as they are making quick adjustments.
Each time a weight is handed off, another is picked up, giving every diver in the formation a different weight adjustment.
If a diver rises or sinks past a determined threshold, they are penalized or removed until one winner remains.
An underwater frisbee or torpedo is passed from diver to diver while remaining neutrally buoyant.
Buoyancy – the diver stays neutral and adjusts as necessary to catch the object.
Task Loading – the diver equalizes ears and buoyancy while chasing the object to different depths.
The object is purposefully thrown out of reach, forcing the diver to chase it towards particular parts of the environment.
Underwater Football – teams must work together to deliver the object to the “end zone.” Touching the bottom results in a penalty and turnover of the object to the other team.
Ping Pong Balls
Ping pong balls are brought under shallow water and held under each diver’s hands, either flat or slightly cupped downward, as they remain neutrally buoyant.
Buoyancy – the diver primarily uses their breath for buoyancy adjustments due to the difficulty of operating their inflator/deflator with their hands occupied.
Use of Hands – the diver keeps their hands and arms still and in front of them to maintain control of the ping pong balls.
Penalty or disqualification for any diver who loses a ball or closes their hand around it.
Divers navigate through an obstacle course while maintaining the ping pong balls.
Divers perform various kicks and change depths while maintaining the ping pong balls.
Divers hold a ping pong ball under an overturned spoon.
Push of War
Two divers, either at the surface or underwater, face each other while positioned horizontally and link hands. The divers then kick to push towards each other and must push the other diver to the end of the pool or out of bounds to win.
Fin Kicks – the diver uses efficient and powerful finning techniques to overpower the other diver.
Winners of each round can take on new competitors until one pusher remains as victor.
A certain fin kick can be specified for both divers to use.
Fish shapes are cut out of old neoprene and attached to weights with line. Divers use underwater cameras to take pictures or videos of the targets.
Photography – the diver uses a variety of techniques to build familiarity with the camera and explore new photo/video perspectives.
Points awarded to best lighting, angle, grouping, etc.
Fish Hunt – divers bring pole spears and practice spearing fish.
Neutral Tic Tac Toe
A slate or set of wet notes is passed between divers to play tic tac toe while neutrally buoyant.
Buoyancy – the diver maintains neutral buoyancy while completing the exercise.
Task Loading – neutral buoyancy and other core skills become second nature as the diver works through problems and shifts their focus away from the surrounding environment.
Change the game to another “pen and paper” style game.
Administer tests or problems with points off for losses of buoyancy control.
Divers lay on the bottom and blow puffs of gas out of their mouth to try to make bubble rings that expand as they rise towards the surface.
Regulator – the diver removes, replaces, and clears their regulator frequently.
Mask – due to breaks in the mask seal created by moving their face to blow the rings, the diver’s mask can partially fill with water and must be cleared.
Divers remain neutrally buoyant while blowing vertical bubble rings.
Divers blow horizontal bubble rings by using hand movement to create a forward-moving vortex which traps gas expelled from the diver’s mouth or exhaust valve.
A scuba rig (tank, BC, regulator) is assembled incorrectly, having an agreed upon number of errors. The diver who assembles the equipment then puts it on and allows the other players to inspect them as if they were in the buddy check process for a specified amount of time. The other players must work together to identify all errors in the setup.
Buddy Awareness – the diver shifts their focus to their buddy’s equipment and recognizes the amount of problems that can occur before entering in the water as well as the benefit of having their gear checked over by a buddy.
Equipment Familiarity – the diver familiarizes themselves with all parts of the equipment as well as problem identification and correction.
Multiple rounds which present increasingly difficult errors to identify.
Teams write down issues and compete to get the most correct answers.
Multiple sets of gear are assembled, and the players move from station to station to find errors.
Divers must navigate through a course that presents physical obstacles, stations that prompt certain activities, or both.
The skills built from this game can vary greatly due to the opportunity to build just about anything into it. It can be as simple as moving through obstacles or as complex as combining all the games in this article.
The variations are endless with this game and can apply to any level of skill – get creative!
Share Your Experience
This article is only a sampling of the many options out there. Games can be as unique as the divers who utilize them and help to solidify a variety of skills for divers and students of every level. To add more fun or hone in on different skills, all kinds of variations can be added to any game. Use the comments section below to share your favorite scuba game!