How Did It Go? Why Your Debriefs Are Longer After a Technical Training Dive

By Brian Shreve

You’ve done all your research. You’ve selected your instructor after interviewing several. You’re enrolled in your first technical dive course. You’ve studied the course materials and looked over the standards online to see what skills you’ll have to do. But there’s one thing that no one has told you about technical diving yet – you’ll probably spend more time planning the dive than it actually takes to execute from surface to surface, and you’ll likely spend almost as much time debriefing the dive as you do on the bottom.  So, why do debriefs take so long after a technical training dive?

Need for a Debrief

Technical dives tend to be more complex than sport dives.  There are a number of steps in properly executing a technical dive, and most instructors will break the dive down into those steps.  Depending on the type of technical dive conducted, these can include such things as:

  • S-drills and bubble checks
  • Descent phase
  • Bottom phase
  • Turn point(s)
  • Initial ascent
  • Decompression phase

Most, if not all, technical dive teams will debrief after every dive. Typical discussions include what went well, what didn’t, and any fixes for next time for each of the areas listed above. Add in any skills, drills, or problem solving scenarios that a training dive presents, and you’ve got a longer debrief by default.

Debrief Structure

Because most technical dives can be divided into sections as explained previously, most debriefs tend to follow that structure. In a training situation, the instructor may choose to debrief the dive team, especially early on in the course or in lower-level courses.

Many instructors find that letting the technical students debrief the dive is also a very effective technique. This allows students to find and explain both the strengths and weaknesses in themselves and their teammates as they pertain to the dive just completed. Often times this leads to better interaction in the team and quicker resolution of any issues. In this format, the instructor can still provide guidance, offer solutions, and point out anything major that the team missed during their debriefing.

When skills are being developed, of course the instructor will likely have much more input and feedback on performance. As courses progress, the divers can usually debrief as effectively in the team as the instructor had.  This has the additional benefit of building not only the skill of debriefing after a dive but also helps develop the mindset that it’s an essential part of any technical dive.

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