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Why Your Brain is the Most Important Piece of Scuba Diving Equipment


Scuba diving is a sport that requires a lot of equipment. Aside from your wetsuit, fins, and mask, you also need an air tank, a regulator, a BCD (buoyancy control device), and possibly also a compass and dive watch.

However, in addition to all of the above, you also need to use your brain.


You could have the best scuba gear in the world, but it’s worthless if you don’t know how to use it properly. This is why divers have to go an intense training program before they can even enter the open water.

Open Water Course

Scuba diving requires a lot of fluid intelligence to get right – you can read more about this on the Examined Existence website. If you choose to study with PADI, you will be taught how to scuba dive in an open water environment. You will be required to learn a number of techniques that will keep you safe and calm underwater. You will be taught how to breathe, how to perform a safety stop if you descend to a certain depth, how to clear your mask if water gets in, and how to properly ascend and descend. You will need to remember all of this as you dive in order to perform the activity safely.

Advanced Open Water

The Advanced Open Water course takes the basics that you learned during your Open Water course and takes them to the next level. You can choose a few different specialties like night diving and cave diving, and learn how to perform these safely. The specialties have different techniques that you’ll need to perform to dive successfully. You’ll develop new capabilities and you’ll learn even more about the underwater environment.

Rescue Diver

Those who want to take their scuba diving education further usually go on to take the rescue diver course. This is a challenging course, but you’ll learn how to think in the moment and how to act in a rescue situation. Learning how to prevent and manage problems in the water can be really rewarding, and you’ll be surprised by how many problem-solving skills you will learn as you progress through the course. To complete this course, you’ll also need to have a First Aid and CPR certificate.

Dive Master

The final step of the PADI education (unless you want to learn how to become an instructor) is the Dive Master course. This course is the first level of professional training, and upon completing it, you will be able to take qualified scuba divers out with you without needing an instructor. This is an excellent course to take if you enjoy motivating others, but again it will require you to have problem-solving skills and the ability to think on your feet. The lessons you learned in the three prior courses will all come in handy here, but you’ll also be given a more in-depth education.

So, there you have it. While your equipment is important in scuba diving, your brain is likely the most important piece of equipment you have.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

One thought on “Why Your Brain is the Most Important Piece of Scuba Diving Equipment”

  1. Do you work for PADI or was this a paid advertisement?

    PADI instructors at open water level DO NOT teach their students to be autonomous divers, they are taught to complete skills on a checklist. Look at ANY class and you will see instructors checking off skills as they are completed. By the time students are done, they are not trained to be autonomous, rather to follow a dive leader.

    Your first paragraph illustrates this as it states about equipment students learn to use, “…possibly also a compass and dive watch.” Navigation is required in all training so if a compass is not part of the equipment one starts the dive with, navigation skills will never be developed. Furthermore, a large percentage of rental equipment at tropical dive destinations does not include a dive computer therefore the student “just trying it out to see if they like it” seldom have a watch with water resistance capable of acting as a timing device.

    At first, I thought that the article was going to address the concept I teach to my students and a skill I learned in my cave diving course. Your brain tells you how much air you have left, how deep you are, and how long you’ve been in the water and your instruments CONFIRM those details! But alas, it was no where to be found. Knowing how to use the equipment is easy, you don’t even have to go diving for that — most eLearning courses do a good job at that. Using the equipment to complete a dive, return to the surface and exit the water before taking your equipment off is really the sign that someone knows how to use the equipment and is a diver, not just someone who received a certification card.

    You mentioned that one can learn, “cave diving” as a specialty for advanced certification. I got my full cave certification from NSS-CDS but would have only ever thought of TDI as an alternative to my week long course, never PADI’s Advanced Diver program with a “one dive” excursion experience to qualify for caver diver!

    For what it’s worth, I see posts like this all over the internet which lead me to believe they are covert advertisements for PADI. Whether this post remains up will indicate whether it was or not. Whether or not anyone responds or comments will prove that it is.

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