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Category Archives for "SCUBA Diving Lessons"

scuba diver being Neutral underwater

Are you over-weighted too? How much weight do I need for scuba diving?

By Jose Cernuda

SCUBA diving buoyancy control, How much weight do I need for scuba diving, Dive weights

Scuba Diving Flutter Kick in Pool

Swimming Like A Fish: How to Master the art of SCUBA Kicks

By Jose Cernuda

 Scuba Diving Flutter Kick in Pool

 Scuba Diving Flutter Kick in PoolWhat’s your go to kick when you’re diving?  Why?  Whenever I ask this question, most people don’t really have an answer as to why they use the kick that they do.

Just as important, many times the kicking technique is less than efficient.  In this article, I want to show you the two most common kicks in scuba diving, when to use each one and demonstrate how to perform each kick efficiently.

SCUBA Kicks

The two main kicks used when scuba diving are the flutter kick and the frog kick. The flutter kick is the scissor-like kick which is similar to the kick you would do if you were swimming freestyle. This is the kick most people instinctively do when they first start scuba diving and snorkeling. The frog kick is the kick which resembles the kick used when completing the breast stroke. It’s named the frog kick because it resembles a frog kicking underwater.

These two kicks are go-to kicks used when scuba diving. What many people do not realize is that they have two distinct purposes and should be used accordingly. In the video below I describe the two kicks and when to use each one.

Before going into the kicks themselves, it’s important that you understand some general principles that will make any kick you use underwater more efficient.

  • First, you want to make sure you make yourself neutral in the water.  The kick should only be used to move your body horizontally in the water column.  If you are kicking to stay off the bottom, then you are wasting energy.  IN order to be efficient, you must be neutrally buoyant.
  • Second, you need to get used being in a horizontal position. This position will eliminate drag in the water and help you move to where you want to go without wasting energy.
  • Next, you need to understand that your hands are not needed to propel yourself underwater. Your hands should be either by your side, or crossed or someone where near your body where they are not causing drag in the water.  Using your hands to try to move through the water is extremely inefficient
  • Finally, you need to know which kick to use and when.

The Flutter Kick

The flutter kick is a power kick. It is the kick you should use when you need to either move rapidly or move powerfully because of a strong current. Because it is a power kick, it is also the kick which consumes the most amount of gas. This is because the flutter kick has no resting phase. When you are flutter kicking, you are basically constantly moving.

The key to an efficient flutter kick is to keep your feet relatively straight, your toes pointed, your ankles loose and let the power come from your hips. You can see in the video below how I demonstrate this kick.

 

The Frog Kick

The frog kick is the more efficient of the two kicks presented here. It’s the kick you should be doing most of the time.

The frog kick has a built in resting phase. That is to say, once you kick you get to rest and recover while you are gliding forward. Because of this, you’ll consume less gas while diving using a frog kick. The video below describes and shows how to do an efficient frog kick.    

The key to both of these kicks is knowing when to use each one, and to practice them both until you have mastered them. 

One huge help in getting your kicks right is to use an underwater camera to see how you look while you are diving. Many people are surprised to see both what their kicking technique looks like, and what their body position is like. Cameras like the GoPro make it relatively inexpensive to see what you look like in the water.

I’m curious to know, what kick are you using most of the time and why? Let me know in the comments below.

How to Clear Your SCUBA Mask Underwater in One BREATH!

By Jose Cernuda

clear scuba mask underwater, SCUBA mask clearing tips

clear scuba mask underwater, SCUBA mask clearing tips

How good are you at clearing your mask underwater?  

It might seem like a silly question, but for some people I know, this simple skill is a lot more difficult than it should be.  Mask clearing is one of the most important skills you need to master as a scuba diver. Even though it may not seem like a big deal, the ability to clear your mask is crucial.  In this article we are goig to give you some SCUBA mask clearing tips that will make you a pro in no time!

Something as mundane as a little water in the mask can make you uncomfortable and even anxious. This state can then escalate and make other small issues seem way larger than they really are.   Since you have one uncomfortable situation stacking on top of one another, you can turn an otherwise benign problem into something major.                

Let’s face it, water in the mask is almost inevitable.  A simple smile can force the mask seal to break and let water into your mask. Clearing your mask is super-simple to master, once you understand and practice the techniques.

Before I begin, let me tell you what I consider to be a successful mask clearing.  This may be different from what you are currently doing and it may be part of the reason why you might not be totally comfortable yet with this skill.

When assessing this skill in my classes, a successful mask clearing is when you COMPLETELY clear your mask on LESS than one breath. This means you should be able to do multiple mask clears with one breath. Unfortunately many students I’ve had over the years have taken 2 or even 3 breaths to clear their masks. Having to take more than one breath to clear your mask is extremely inefficient.  

The goal of this post is to help you master mask clearing, so please read on so you can learn more about the tips needed to master this fundamental SCUBA diving skill.  Of course, to fully master this you will have to go practice in the water!

SCUBA mask clearing tips and techniques

There are two basic ways to clear your mask. Below is are descriptions of both methods as well as a couple of videos showing you how to perform them.

The key to effectively clearing your mask is to understand the principles involved and how to position yourself and your mask to make flushing the water out of the mask simple.

Principle number one: Bubbles go up!

Before we get into the technique of mask clearing, it helps to understand how it works. Mask clearing works by trapping air bubbles in our mask. By exhaling through our noses and sealing off the top of our mask, we trap the bubbles inside of our mask. This trapping of the air bubbles also forces water out of the bottom of our masks.

Principle number two: When air displaces water, the water has to have a place to go.

Because we are trapping the air bubbles at the top of our mask, we need to create a gap at the bottom of our mask in order to have a place for the water to go.

Principle number three: Head position matters when clearing your mask.

In order for all of this to work, you have to have you head on a vertical plane. However, this doesn’t mean that your entire body has to be vertical. Simply looking up while maintaining a horizontal body position will do.

So now that you understand the principles, let me walk you through how I teach mask clearing so that you can master it.

  1. First off, I relay to my students that they have to be looking up in order to clear their masks.  You have to make sure that your face is vertical in the water column.  Remember, your whole body should not be vertical, just your face.
  2. Secondly, I tell my students to break the seal of their mask at the bottom, you only need a slight opening here, maybe enough to slide your pinky finger in.  It is common to separate the mask too far from your face which makes it hard to properly clear the mask.  Be mindful of this.
  3. Next I tell my student to exhale slowly from their nose.  For some people it helps to move their tongue to the roof of their mouth to make sure that they are not exhaling simultaneously from their mouth.
  4. As you exhale from your nose you’ll notice the water level slowly going down your face. Once you feel that the mask is clear, continue exhaling slowly and move the mask back against your face top reseal it and stop exhaling. The mask will be clear and sealed!  

See the video below so you can see how I do this skill.


Another way to efficiently clear your mask:

If the above method does not work for you, read below for an alternate method that is also effective.

  1. First, look up, again make sure your face is vertical. and
  2. Exhale slowly through your nose while pressing your hand against the top of your mask to force the top of your mask to seal.
  3. Once you feel the water is cleared from your mask, press the rest of your mask against your face. Your mask will now be clear!

See the video below so you can see how I do the alternate method. The key to making both methods above effective is to EXHALE SLOWLY and ONLY THROUGH YOUR NOSE. Once the water is completely out of your mask, you must adjust the mask to reseal it and stop exhaling.

We hope these SCUBA mask clearing tips have helped you.  Whichever method you choose to clear your SCUBA mask underwater, make sure you practice and master it. You should be able to clear your mask multiple times on a single breath. Doing so will help to increase your confidence and comfort in the water. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be totally comfortable with this basic skill.  Not being comfortable with mask clearing can lead to other problems, so be sure to practice, practice, practice!

What method do you use primarily and why? I’d love to know in the comments below.

The Importance of Breathing underwater without a mask

By Jose Cernuda

scuba diver underwater with no mask

scuba diver underwater with no mask

How would you feel if you lost your mask while diving?  How about if your mask strap broke, or your regulator free-flowed, would it just be a minor nuisance or would be a major catastrophe?  

I really hope you answered that it would be a minor nuisance! 

While you can’t “learn” to be comfortable overnight, there are many skills you can practice in the water that will help you feel more comfortable in the event that an uncomfortable situation should arise.

One of the most important things in scuba diving, especially when you are a beginning diver, is being completely comfortable with no mask on while underwater.

Even though it is a really basic skill, knowing that, should your mask fall off, you’ll be totally fine is important. It’s also important to be completely comfortable with the fact that, at some point, the seal on your mask will go and you will need to clear that water from your mask, but that’s another post.

It is very common, especially in the beginning to have some apprehension about water entering your mask, or even losing the mask altogether. The best way to lose the apprehension is to face the concern head on and practice actually taking the mask off underwater while continuing to breathe.

Fortunately, we don’t even need a scuba unit in order to practice this. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could even do this in your bath tub. Granted you’ll look a little silly, and if someone catches you doing this, they might have questions about your sanity, but who cares? It’s all in the name of being a better diver!

In any case, all that is needed in order to become comfortable with breathing without a mask on is a body of water and a mask with a snorkel. The “drill” if you want to call it that, is to turn your mask around and to breathe through the snorkel without pinching your nose. 
See the video below of how I demonstrate this skill

For most, this is a pretty simple skill, however for some, breathing while their face is in the water and nothing covers their nose presents a challenge. The challenge is that many people have been breathing simultaneously through their nose and mouth for all their lives. Because breathing through only your mouth while your face is in the water is not something we normally need to do, it may be challenging. The best way to determine this is to actually do it.

What to do if you have problems only breathing through your nose:

If you happen to be one of the people who breathe through your nose and mouth at the same time, there are a few things you can do to train yourself to only breathe through your mouth so you can be comfortable underwater without a mask on.  These are some of the steps I’ve recommended to students in my open water course who have had this problem over the years:

  1. Start with your mask on backward while breathing through the snorkel and pinching off your nose. Notice how you are breathing. Continue breathing while slowly un-pinching your nose. Do this several times to see if you can successfully breathe through only your mouth.
  2. If the above exercise doesn’t work, focus on where your tongue is in your mouth. Focus on what the muscles in your throat are doing. In order to only breathe through your mouth, your tongue will actually rise a little and your throat muscles will “tighten up a bit” to close off that airway. Because you’ve probably never focused on this, it may be difficult to be aware of this at first, but experiment with moving the back of your tongue towards the back top of your mouth to help close off the airspace from your nose.
  3. Get in the pool or even a bathtub and practice, practice, practice. Like riding a bike, you may not get this skill the first time, but once you do, you will always remember it. This is a fundamental skill in scuba diving that, once you mastered, will help you with your comfort and confidence.

I’m curious to know, did you practice breathing with no mask on when you did your scuba diver course?  How easy or hard is this skill for you? Let me know in the comments below.