TDI instructor and student

by Sean Harrison:

As an instructor in the dive industry for over 20 years, I have heard a lot of questions and I have been made aware of many questions that were asked by divers. Some of these questions were legitimate and as the saying goes…there’s no such thing as a stupid question. There is however, one missing piece to this saying, and that is… be prepared for the answer. Diving is a sport that really brings people out of their comfort zones and technical diving brings people even farther out of these comfort zones. Technical training has been readily available for quite a few years now, and this year, TDI is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary. In the early days, divers learned on their own and for good reason, there were no instructors and no materials to support the training, but those days are long behind us.

Below are some of the questions I have been asked over the years, and I have ranked the top three questions you should never ask your instructor:

  • “After I get this certification, do I really have to stay within the limits of the certification?”
    Often times I think there is a misunderstanding in regards to how diving certifications work, because after all, most certifications can be conducted in the same body of water with the same conditions. A parallel to this logic is like thinking: because you learned to drive an automobile, you should now be able to drive every form of transportation (tractor trailers, motor cycles) in every condition (rain, snow, mountains), and this is just not the reality. Diving courses are designed in a progressive order, one builds upon the other and it is very important to follow this order in regards to technical training. The courses you take teach you the knowledge, techniques and problem solving skills for that level of certification. What you don’t know, can hurt you.
  • “I have ‘a lot’ of dives, so do we really have to go through all the course requirements?”
    As an instructor, this is perhaps the most frequently asked question, and the one that makes me cringe the most. Conducting dives is a great way to learn new skills, build comfort and most importantly, keep diving – but (there’s always a but) sometimes pleasure dives do not develop the most efficient skills. Another common occurrence is that divers carry way more equipment and gadgets then what is really needed for the types of dives being performed. Taking a course with an instructor and going through all the course requirements gives divers a chance to apply what was taught and develop good muscle memory by repetitive motion of skills. The instructor is there to provide a different perspective and instant feedback. All of this will make dives more enjoyable and efficient.
  • “Can I just pay you and get the card?”
    Fact is stranger than fiction and this question has been asked frequently, and not just of me. The reality is an instructor cannot just certify someone without teaching and meeting all the standards of training. This comes down to simple liability exposure, and instructors must follow these standards for the reasons stated above.

Keep this in mind, there really is never a bad question but always think about the question before you ask it; put yourself in the instructor’s fins. Questions are an important tool for instructors when teaching, they let the instructor know what the diver is thinking and chances are good that if one person has a question, others have may have the same but are hesitant to ask. Class participation is a great thing from an instructor’s perspective, and we always want participation, so please speak up and ask your question(s). Instructors are a great source of information, and sometimes questions bring up additional information that make the course that much better.

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