First Overdue Post

I have been dragging my feet at getting this blog started.  After prompting (massive and aggressive nudges from those that will likely show up on here soon), I have finally gone public with this blog.  So, here is the first of many posts.  See Joi, it is actually live now.

Precision Diving has been in development for fifteen years.  What began as an effort to help make technical divers better quickly evolved into what to do to make all divers better right from the first day of beginning training and beyond.

In general, what diminishes performance in all divers is the inability to have their diving be an automated skill.  Driving a car, for most, is an automated skill.  For better or for worse, we all are able to do other things while we drive, some of us better than others.

All we have to do to illustrate that most divers are not the same as most drivers is to distract the diver while diving by having them concentrate on something other than diving.  Easy enough to do by handing almost any diver a camera.  Let the games begin.  The diver most often is not looking so good even if they manage to snap a few fair photos.

I am not going to try to describe the full extent of Precision Diving with this first post.  Rather, I hope to begin a dialog with divers all over the world that want to improve their diving at any level and any non divers that are interested in learning more while they begin their path to becoming a diver.  No matter who you are, you will be better for the effort.  Likely, the very next time you dive.

First, it is best that I tell you what Precision Diving in not.  The system is not trying to be a training agency, nor should it be applied outside of an existing training system.  Meaning secure proper training from a reputable training agency.  You certainly can share this blog with your instructor.  Precision Diving is not trying to standalone or pretend that we do not stand of the shoulders of giants.  Nothing happens in a vacuum and there is just too rich a history of innovators that have come before.

What Precision Diving is, is a system that works to add a structure and a language to the underlying foundational components of diving integrating them into a theory and approach that enhances any training agency’s offering.  It provides a cognitive strategy and a path of thinking about diving that will make all divers better because some of the pieces have never been connected in the past.  It is a foundation that any system of diver education can easily build upon while still very much allowing the instructor to remain within standards.

When we begin to learn to dive, we enter the course knowing what we can study in our course materials.  From a performance standpoint, we have not learned any physical skills yet.  We are unconscious incompetents.  We have no clue what we do not know yet.  Other than we know we know nothing.  Once we begin, we become conscious incompetents.  We very much know what we do not know.  Hopefully, we migrate to conscious competence rather quickly.  In diving, this is where most divers remain.  How do we know?  Well, hand them that little camera.

If you provide something that takes energy away from the thoughts of performing diving skills, those skills get worse.  Those divers that are lucky to stumble on to the next level making it to unconscious competence are able to dive while also doing other things.  Unfortunately, the divers that get there tend to find their way on their own or by a happy accident and it can be incomplete.

Precision Diving provides a structure to reach this level of ability in diving while also accelerating the progress through the other points along the way.  It also helps to provide a mental picture of what it means to be a good diver, so you will have a picture of what you are trying to become as a diver.  Almost every other activity can point to what it means fairly definitively to be good at that activity.  The diving industry has never clearly defined what it means to really be good at diving.  We can put one hundred instructor trainers in a room and likely get similar answers from many, but there is no industry definition we can point to for this.  No snap answer or sound bites that all would clearly agree to.  We need a clear end goal we can picture in our head to make it there.  Otherwise, we take our skills and it is a hope that we end up somewhere close game.

So, Precision Diving proposes one.  An elite diver, the end goal, is a diver that is in control of their diving with no impact in a sphere around them including on other divers and the environment while always performing within ideal performance.  Basically, nothing ever happens without the conscious or unconscious control of the diver.  If something is outside of ideal performance, it is either because the diver chose to break from ideal or it is an error.  If we accept this definition, then errors will immediately register with us as outside our mental picture of where we want to end up as a diver.  Then, we will naturally work to not repeat the same error again.  But, without awareness of what is ideal, we have no clue whether we are making errors and worse we may believe what we are doing is exceptional.

Spoiler alert….  What you believe to be great diving or those you look up to as great divers may not be as great as you now believe.  I apologize ahead of time for the resulting disillusionment suffered.  But, it also means we can all be much better.  None of us is as good as we can be.

So, our foundation is this performance mindset.  We will spend a lot of time with this in later posts.

Almost all sports have a set of basic foundational skills that you practice when you train.  Basketball has dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding and the like.  When you practice you spend time working on those foundational skills and usually also play the game working on using each skill together in whole.  The diving industry has not really laid out a simple set of skills as the key ones for us as divers to keep in mind all the time.  Those points we can keep in mind on every dive no matter what else we are doing.

Well, there is one.  Buoyancy.  That would be on everyone’s list.  It is often talked about and is, of course, super important.  However, it is not first.  Nor has the industry really built a tangible picture of what that means as it connects to the other skills of diving.

When we learned to dive, if you have not yet you will see this for sure, what was the most important rule in scuba?

Never hold your breath!  No need to get into why right now.

When we are told this rule we are also told that we should breathe deeply and slowly.

Did anyone ever show you, demonstrate it, and teach you what that actually means?  For most, the answer will be “wow, no actually, no one ever did or has since.”  Did the light bulb just go on a bit?  Hum, you know, why are we not actually teaching the number one skill in scuba?  Well, because everyone believes we already know how to do this.  We have been doing it our whole life, how possibly could we not know how to do this properly. Well, the vast majority have no clue.  Shame really.

So, yes, you guessed it, Precision Diving has breathing as the first skill and the most foundational.  More on this, a lot more, in future posts.  You think you know, but you likely have no idea.  Just an FYI, if you get good at ideal breathing, you will immediately see a 25% to 40% increase in your gas duration assuming you are newer to the sport.  All will see immediate improvements of some level.

Breathing is not just a fine-tuning technique that affects buoyancy or is used to adjust it.  Breathing is very closely linked to buoyancy of course, but it weaves through almost all aspects of diving and is a route to the control we seek in Precision Diving.

The specifics of how to breathe for scuba I will cover in the future, but I can say that if you find that your diving is not going as it should on a dive, I would bet that your breathing is not ideal either.  So, we need to lead with what is most intimate and controllable, HOW WE BREATHE.

The Foundational Skills (your basics) of Precision Diving

The BASE:  Performance Mindset

Layered on top

  1. Breathing
  2. Buoyancy
  3. Swimming (includes all aspects of how we move and our impact from doing so.)
  4. Trim (including streamlining and all related aspects of contact with the water and drag.)

There is, of course, far more to it than just a list.  There is a great many details around the above and more to come not listed yet.

I would like to sign off with a question for everyone.  Diver or not.  For the divers, what event or moment can you think of where you recognized your diving made a change for the better?  For the non divers, what about any activity in your life, what moment or event made you significantly better at it?

17 Comments on “First Overdue Post”

  1. Barbara says:

    Grant- loved this -” We are unconscious incompetents”. I will be reposting & excited to watch for more because there are nuggets of gold here!

    For me, taking photos was truly transformative, but also navigation or “knowing” where I was at all times was another.

  2. njmpm says:

    For me, becoming an instructor and being able to influence in some way the mind set and attitude of a new diver. It has become way too often that I observe divers doing things both in and out of the water that make me cringe and often comment on. A personal diving epiphany; realising that its more beneficial to pause on the intake rather than the outtake haha

    • Grant W. Graves says:

      Yes one would be skip breathing and the other ideal. More details on breathing very soon.

      • njmpm says:

        By pausing i didnt mean holding my breath just slowing down the exchange time, and yes Grant skip breathing and the subsequent headaches made for a steep learning curve for me early on lol I remember being told the word, “skip breathing” at the time but no one ever explaining to me what it was especially during my infant diving days when I really needed that information. Its definately a topic I discuss with my students though.

  3. […] into more detail about the breathing we should be doing when we scuba dive.  As I mentioned in my first post, it is our first and most important foundational skill.  Well, not that they are not all […]

  4. Dan says:

    I am always up for new diving ideas or self-improvement, but I do have a few questions. Please do not be insulted for these are genuine questions, not attempts to make myself ‘sound smarter’ or put you down.
    1)What makes you more qualified than other divers? What are your credentials? (I.E. Why should I listen to you instead of another diver with equal experience?
    2)Does this blog have anything to do with Duane Johnsons’blog “Precision Diving”?

    Actually, that’s it. Please respond. Or don’t. I’m going to read this one either way.

  5. Grant W. Graves says:

    Dan fair questions. I take no offense at all. I am happy to address both of your questions.

    This has nothing to do with the other site or posting by anyone but myself, unless they happen here. I am sure we will have many guest posts from time to time.

    There was one URL left open on this name and unfortunately secured by others. Although, this is a new application of the concept, I have used and had this title and topic in use for well over ten years predating any other use. So, no other connections other than those here.

    As far as myself. You are welcomed to google me and see what you find. I will eventually get around to placing a bio and CV on here, but have been busy getting posts constructed to catch up here on fifteen plus years of working these concepts.

    I would suggest if it interests you and what you read helps make you better and works, then does it matter all that much? I am trying to keep this about the ideas and about you and all divers, actually. Whether I have a list of qualifications that satisfy anyone as to who I am to be saying or doing anything is in the eye of the beholder.

    I am not trying to dodge the question. I really want to keep this effort about the ideas and what people experience for themselves in them. I, of course, believe the last fifteen years of testing the concepts and evolving the language has been important.

    But, this is not about me and the effort is not about me. I believe that the concepts have their own value and stand on their own merits. So, take them on their own strengths or weaknesses as you see them. I welcome and am so happy you have actively participated.

    I do promise that I will speak more to how the concepts evolved and the history of the efforts in future posts as the story evolves.

    Dan, what is one of the things that you can recall that made your diving better? Do you remember anything definitive? Perhaps several, but would you be willing to share one with us? I am very interested in hearing more.

  6. Dan says:

    Hello Mr. Graves
    Thank you for the reply. I followed your advice and googled you. You clearly have a very impressive background and I am glad that you are sharing your knowledge with the internet crowd. I am constantly trying to apply advice from blogs such as yours, from my LDS and from my more experienced dive buddy. However, because I am not a very experienced diver myself, I want to make sure that who I am accepting advice from really knows what they are talking about. Thank you for reassuring me that your advice is backed up by experience.
    As for things that have made my diving better, there are two definite answers 1)Owning my own gear and 2)Swimming for exercise. I think the reasons behind those are obvious.

    • Grant W. Graves says:

      That is cool. It is important to follow up on things especially on the internet. I understand completely. You can call me Grant. Mr. Graves is my father. LOL

      Thanks for the answers to the question. Both are common ways to feel better diving. Both lead to more familiarity and comfort in the water in general and with the diving. Both will be topics for posts in the future as well. Traveling a lot at the moment, but should be able to get back at it here soon.

  7. […] I presented in my first post, we need to make sure we have a picture in our mind of what it means to be a great diver, an elite […]

  8. […] in your diving at any level, get back to the basics.  It is the foundational skills discussed in my first post that will bring you the confidence and execution you […]

  9. […] go back to our first post example of handing a diver a camera.  Yes, there is the distraction factor.  But, you very […]

  10. Julie Anderson says:

    Hi Grant,

    I am thoroughly enjoying your blog so far and thought I’d chime in even though this is an older post.
    For the divers, what event or moment can you think of where you recognized your diving made a change for the better?
    – Although there have been many ‘ah ha’ moments as I have progressed as a diver, my first one had to be when I finally “understood” the physics and physiology of diving. Although it was a very basic understanding, when it finally clicked that it was much more than some silly equations that my instructor made me learn. It was the moment I finally stopped looking on the back of my log book to figure out PO2, ideal gas, max depth, etc. I finally understood what I was trying to calculate and why. This skill has of course developed over the years with the addition of decompression models and technical gas planning but it is an ongoing skill that I don’t think anybody has mastered yet. I’d love to hear your views on dive planning in future posts.

    It was great to meet you at DEMA!

    Julie Anderson

    • Grant W. Graves says:

      Yes, too many people learn to plug and play with formulas. It is why I teach physics without formulas. Will have to do a post about that in the future. It does matter and is important for understanding why we make the decisions we do. I am well known for saying if you do not have a number you really do not know, but you need to have that intuitive understanding before you really understand what the numbers mean. Nice point.

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  13. […] into more detail about the breathing we should be doing when we scuba dive.  As I mentioned in my first post, it is our first and most important foundational skill.  Well, not that they are not all […]

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