Using No Fins to Improve Technique with Them

Finally a short one.

Had the privilege to do an orientation yesterday for 11 divers. I am not sure if I mentioned this technique previously, but I have been doing this for years now from beginner to highest level divers, so I thought I would share it now. If you want to improve your frog kick technique, take your fins off. Yes, you can actually move without fins. I recommend you do it in the pool first, of course. You will be surprised at just how well you can move, actually, even with doubles and stages if you like.

The great thing about this is if your technique is not good, you do not move. So, by feel, most divers will naturally feel their way into pretty good technique. If you are teaching, you can work with those that have trouble on the how to do frog kick, but most will self adjust and begin to make way. After ten or fifteen minutes most are moving with ease and will be commenting that they never believed they would be able to do this and be surprised as to just how much they can move. Remember to find the glide as well.

Tamer works on no fins use to improve his frog kick in the deep end. He worked first in the shallow end on the same.

Tamer works on no fins use to improve his frog kick in the deep end. He worked first in the shallow end on the same.

It also lends itself to early and easy adoption of flat turning (turning or rotating over a fix position). I heard several comments that flat turning was actually easier without fins. Yup, levers are a lot shorter. Make sure you try it in both direction. You would not want imbalances in your technique.

This little shift also lends to finding your way to the ever elusive being about to swim backwards. Without fins, you can feel what angles with your feet make things work for you. Plus, it tends to be much more intuitive.

One note. When you put the fins back on, you will need to be much more patient with the movements as it takes more time to allow the water to move around the fins than your feet (longer levers). So, slow way down and remember to allow the movement to develop over time. If you put your fins on and then move with the same speed, I assure you that you will get frustrated. Remember, by slowing down, you speed up.

If you are teaching, remind your clients about this. It will save you some headaches.

I have found this is a “trick” that is rarely thought of, turns what people believe on its head, and naturally accelerates rapid technique improvements. Give it a try.

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Rhonda Benson on the Impact of Precision Diving

When first presented with the concept of Precision Diving, I was skeptical.  I had been an avid diver for 13 years already, and had been a Scuba Instructor for 9 of those years.  Of course, I believed that my buoyancy was spot on.  Curious, I decided to take the Precision Diving Orientation with my Instructor, Grant Graves.  The week before our pool session, we spent time discussing and practicing proper breathing techniques.  In steps, I was taught how to breathe ideally.  Basically, how to use my entire lung volume and how to apply this technique while scuba diving.  It was explained to me that by effectively using this technique, it would be like adding or removing 5 lbs. of buoyancy.  Still, I was not convinced.

The following week was our pool session.  We were in a very deep pool, which allowed for the set up of several underwater marker buoys.  We used these buoys to judge just how accurate our buoyancy was.  We donned our gear and were given instructions as to the length of time we were expected to hover at the height of each buoy. I eagerly entered the water, with my 13 years of confidence riding very squarely on my shoulders.

WOW!  I spent the next hour taking hit after hit to that confidence I entered the water with.  It was like I was a new diver all over again.  I was ideal breathing and trying to control buoyancy solely with my lungs.  Time after time, I missed my marks and under-shot my timed expectations.  This was an ego killer for sure.

Needless to say, I was a bit deflated.  Had it not been for 3 things that would have been the day that I gave up teaching scuba.  Those 3 things are:

1) I am extremely stubborn and am not a quitter,

2) I love diving too much! There are so many amazing experiences to be had underwater and I find that the best way I am able to share them with others is by teaching them so that they can also have their own wonderful experiences,

3) Grant said these words to me, “You are not as good as you think you are.  Neither am I”.  Coming from one of the most accomplished divers I personally know, that carried a lot of weight.

Over the next couple of weeks, I spent time in the pool working on my breathing technique.  Each time was better than the previous.  The leaps in improvement were large, surprising.  I felt comfortable in my “skin” again.  The third weekend rolled around and I had the opportunity to work with a “would-be” diver.

He was not a very strong swimmer, nor particularly athletic. He was an older gentleman, which doesn’t matter, except for the fact that, again, he wasn’t particularly athletic.  What he did have was a strong desire to scuba dive.  I had previously spent at least 12-16 hours in the pool with him.  I know of another Instructor who had spent about 8 hours in the pool with him.  He still had not mastered the skills to the point that either of us would sign off on him to go to the ocean.  Quite frankly, I had no confidence that he would ever make it to the ocean.

As the Gods would have it that day, I was able to work one-on-one with him.  We spent 30-45 minutes just talking about and practicing ideal breathing on the deck.  He seemed to grasp the concept.  We donned our gear and did a giant stride entry into the 14 foot deep pool.  We settled on the pool floor, adjusted our buoyancy, and began to swim.  We were swimming side by side at first and his instructions were to mirror me.

He’s doing it! He’s not touching his low-pressure inflator hose.  He’s using his lungs to control his buoyancy.  I am making pretty big depth changes.  He’s right there beside me.  Consistently.  Is this a fluke?  After about 45 minutes we surface.

He is grinning from ear to ear!

This is the best experience he has had so far, through his training.  He was getting it!  We discussed and went back down for more practice.  We spent another hour or so underwater.  It wasn’t a fluke!  He GOT IT!  Long story, short, “Joe” completed his ocean training the following weekend and did an amazing job!

Precision Diving?  Hands down made “Joe” an extremely good diver, out of the gate.  Precision Diving gave me an entirely new skill set.  My diving has improved 100%.  My joy of diving has equally improved, which I did not think was possible.  By adding it to my open water classes, my students are far more confident in their abilities as divers.

Precision Diving has proven to be invaluable to me and everyone I have been able to share it with.  I can’t fathom teaching an Open Water class or Advanced class without including this segment.

Rhonda Benson

PADI, MSDT #193846