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Teaching contradictions: differing dive training philosophies

Discussion in 'Scuba Certification Agency Q&A' started by The Chairman, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
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    Why not show a picture of an 8 year old hitting a ball off of a batting tee and saying it doesn't show the ability to hit a major league curve ball?

    The purpose of that drill, designed to be done near the beginning of confined water instruction, is to INTRODUCE the concept of buoyancy. The diver is upposed to see how breathing affects buoyancy, a skill that will be used later when the real practice of buoyancy begins.

    Anyone who thinks that this beginning drill is supposed to demonstrate mastery level buoyancy control is a blithering idiot.
     
    -hh likes this.
  2. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Nevertheless, I think it is a bad drill. I think that there are better ways to introduce the concept of buoyancy.
     
  3. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

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    I like having students do a horizontal descent the first time they go under on scuba after we do a proper weight check. Then every time after that. No need to do a fin pivot if they think they are supposed to be neutral and in control from the beginning.

    Sent from my DROID X2 using Tapatalk 2
     
  4. SeaCobra

    SeaCobra Dive Shop

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    I really do not see anything wrong with the fin pivot and I do feel it does a nice job of introducing the concept and also demonstrating the effect of a breath on a diver's buoyancy. The problem is when an instructor does not progress past this and/or feels this is all that is necessary to demonstrate proper buoyancy.
     
  5. Zen Diving  Inc.

    Zen Diving Inc. Dive Shop

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    My point exactly, when would a diver have his bare feet touching the bottom while scuba diving?
     
  6. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board Staff Member

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    When is it acceptable for a diver to touch the bottom with their fins?

    Now BoulderJohn, how does a batting tee set a "contradictory example"? Will the batter ever try to use a batting tee during a game? No, it's not even a remote possibility that they will be enticed to go and grab a batting tee, set it up on Home plate and take the ball physically from the pitcher and then put it on the tee. There's nothing to unteach in using one, unlike having your students put their fins or knees on the bottom.

    Also, I don't think I have ever seen a kid over the age of eight or so use a batting tee, even to learn. Really young kids simply lack the eye/hand coordination needed to track a moving ball to hit it. It's one of the reasons I don't like training kids under 14 to dive.
     
  7. SeaCobra

    SeaCobra Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: West Chester, PA
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    And why do you think that is? Because the young little leaguer progressed to any skill level. The batting tee is an example of a learning aid that allows the hitter to focus on one aspect of a complex skill. He/she learns to keep their head in and eye on the ball. Then they progress to a slow moving target, then a faster one and then one that moves. Its a basic learning principle.

    Now, I am not saying that the fin pivot is the greatest learning exercise ever invented, but I am saying that I see value in it and I do teach it. If done properly it is a nice progression to swimming horizontally.

    And when is it ok for fins to touch the bottom, well we do it all the time off of 'joisey! especially when I am trying to bust a porthole off a wreck!
     
    JKPAO likes this.
  8. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
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    You have me totally baffled now. If I recall correctly, in either this or another similar thread, you said that you have students neutrally buoyant from the first dive in CW, but you have their legs touching the bottom. That is what I do myself--the students do their first skills in a horizontal position, with their legs lightly touching the floor for stability while they learn their other skills. Are you now saying that there is never a time in your instruction that students touch the bottom--they are hovering in perfect horizontal trim in 4 feet of water whilst performing all their basic skills from the moment they submerge for the first time in their lives? I'm impressed.

    Nope, they won't. It is used because it serves a specific function--to isolate a specific skill so that the student can focus on that. It is similar to an important point that was made in our instruction when I was certified as a coach by the United States Volleyball Association. We were told that when we were introducing the correct spiking motion to players, we should not do it with live sets because they will skew the motion and pick up bad habits because their focus will be on trying to time their jump and arm swing rather than work on technique.

    I am also amazed that you are saying that a student has the ability to tell the difference between something done artificially in instruction and what is done in the game. Earlier you said students have no such ability whatsoever. Seeing an instructor ascend with a student during a CESA and then go back down and doing the same thing with another student, according to you, confuses the student. Having no ability to tell the difference between an instructional exercise and what is done in actual diving, you argued that students will spend their dive time ascending to the surface, gong back down, ascending to the surface, going back down, etc. Since they saw their instructor do it during an instructional exercise, they assume that they must dive like that rather than they way it was done in the other 99.8% of their instructional time. The fact that just about all students are taught CESA that way and no one dives that way seems to suggest the opposite, but you were adamant.
    In 1988 a Los Angeles Dodger named Kirk Gibson hit one of the most dramatic home runs in baseball history. Knowing he was going to be placed into the game as a pinch hitter, he went to the batting practice area in the clubhouse and took repeated swings off of the batting tee there to prepare. Do you think he was the first player on the team to go into that area and use that batting tee? Why do you think a batting tee was in a major league club house?

    I really do salute all those instructors out there who never allow their students to touch the bottom at all during the first pool session. I am simply not that good, and I am awed by you.

    ---------- Post added January 5th, 2013 at 11:27 AM ----------

    Yes, it is. I am stunned by seeing it so blatantly denied here.
     
  9. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated
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    Jeff's post made me think about what I do and why I do it from a different angle, John's reenforced it. The whole thing was brought into focus by a discussion I had with my son who's playing center on what may be, arguably, the best high school basketball team in New Mexico. His coach has an interesting approach ... while he teaches basic skills like dribbling, shooting, boxing out, passing, etc., most of the time is spent playing. They play all sorts of artificial combinations, especially three and four on five. My son's game has improved substantially in this regime, a double/double is now rather routine for him in a game, and he only "writes home" about a triple/double. Despite this, I have not seen the kind of improvement in specific named skills that I had expected, and that's what we were talking about. He said that individual skills, as long as they are "journeyman" are less important to success than is being able to use them together. dribble, shoot, box-out, rebound, shoot again or pass it off, and perform all those individual skills in a seamless way and you'll not only win, you'll dominate. Again, the key here is that each individual skill has to be adequate to the task and it is more effective to practice fitting the skills together so that they flow together than it is "perfecting" each individual item.

    Diving is much the same way. Why is getting people up of the bottom so important? The flow of conversation here on Scubaboard would suggest that it is important because buoyancy control is a skill that is essential to learn and if you start off right at the beginning the student will be better at the end of the course. Permit me to suggest that that is not really what is going on. When you work with student to do as much as they can without touching the bottom, or the sides, or surfacing, what they are learning is those "connection" skills. What they are really learning in not just the concept and practice of neutral buoyancy but rather the ability to maintain their position in the water column while doing something else, perhaps more than one something else, e.g., maintaining buoyancy while sharing air, clearing their mask and ascending, holding a stop and then surfacing.

    The more I think about it the more I realize that my opposition to most agency standards (including those that I wrote for NAUI) is that they focus on skills rather than on exercises that teach how to connect skills seamlessly. Too many dive classes have become sessions in which individual skills are repeated, one after another, in isolation from other skills, much like using a batting tee. While there is nothing wrong with a batting tee when used as part of an integrated and holistic program, using it as a sole end in itself is not going to produce, say, an effective first baseman. What we lost when diving courses were cut back were the exercises, the excuse for doing so was that there were not realistic simulations of something you'd actually have to do. While this complaint had a grain of truth to it, the net effect was to deprive students of the ability to connect the individual skills, but ... the current movement back to doing all of the individual skills while up off the bottom brings back a critical element that has been all but lost from most recreational training programs.

    So ... it seems to me that the dividing line that had been established and that John, et.al., have been working to smear, if not break, has to do with bringing back exercises that teach the connections as well as the individual skills, as opposed to what has been the leitmotif of "modern" diver training, the reduction of exercises in favor of the demonstration of the "mastery" of individual skills done in isolation. So, let's carry the change forward, back to the future, as is were ... let's bring back bailouts, doff and dons, etc., recognizing why it is that we do them and what exactly we are trying to accomplish with them.
     
    BurhanMuntasser likes this.
  10. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Oh, I do agree with this to a large degree. That is why I try to include as much simply swimming around in my confined water classes. I feel this is a tremendous teacher. Not long ago I had to assist in a class that did nothing but skill work with almost no swimming. I thought the students were terrible divers at the end of the confined water session--I would have been embarrassed to have sent them along the way as their instructor, and I was embarrassed to have had the role of assistant in the class. During the last part of my confined water class, students just swim in buddy teams, and they are told to perform skills, including especially OOA drills and checking each other's gas pressure as they do. They look like divers when they are done.

    I also learned all of this while getting certified to coach several sports. Having soccer players play a simple game of keep away in small groups teaches passing much, much better than any passing drill.

    At some point you have to teach basic skills, though. At some point you have to work with someone who is doing something fundamentally wrong, break down the skill, and teach the proper technique. For example, two decades ago the coach of a youth football team was blessed to have a 7-year old quarterback who seemed to be able to do it all. He was a star who could really run a football game. No need to work on precise passing fundamentals, especially at that young age. As that boy got older, each of his coaches had that same philosophy. The kid played a winning game of football overall. OK, his passing fundamentals were not textbook, but as an overall package, he was outstanding. When he went to college, the legend continued. He won the Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding player in college football when he was only a sophomore, until this year the youngest player ever to do so. Many people believe firmly that he was the greatest overall football player in college history.

    But he never learned proper passing fundamentals. He relied on his overall skill. When the Denver Broncos drafted him, they tried to teach him those fundamentals, but it was too late. He had been doing it wrong all his life, and the habits were too firmly ingrained. And so today, Tim Tebow, the greatest player in college history, is the third string quarterback on a losing team, playing behind a starting quarterback who is mediocre at best and an unsung second string quarterback who has never done anything that shows NFL-level talent. I am sure that if one coach early in his career, before his flaws were so firmly established, had taken the time to break down his skills and make him do things right, Tebow would be the best quarterback in the NFL.
     

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