Good buoyancy is one of the most important components of being a good diver. If you're flopping all over the place, crawling on the coral and landing on top of other divers, you are not being a good diver or a good buddy.
Fortunately, buoyancy is an easy thing to improve with just a few simple steps! Let's discuss our 5 Easy Ways to Improve your Buoyancy, shall we?
Tip 1. Take a buoyancy course
You heard this in our piece on improving your air consumption. Good buoyancy can improve so many things, including air consumption, kicking and how kind you are to the reef and your fellow divers, so kill a flock of birds with one stone by taking a buoyancy course.
Though it may not sound terribly exciting, a buoyancy course is, in my humble opinion, the greatest thing you can do for your scuba diving. You'll find out how many weights you need to achieve neutral buoyancy, learn how to dive well when you're both under- and over-weighted and practice using your lungs to adjust your buoyancy. Throw in different obstacle courses to make it extra fun and challenging, and you've got yourself an experience that will benefit you for the rest of your scuba diving career.
Tip 2. Log your weights every time
Whenever we are kitting people up, one of the questions we ask is "how many weights do you need?". You would not believe how many people walk through our doors and don't actually know, and can't even ballpark, how many weights they need. As dive professionals, we can eyeball your weights fairly accurately 85% of the time, but some people require more weights than it seems and some require less. We then spend the first few dives trying to sort out your weights, and your air consumption, buoyancy and experience inevitably suffer a little for it.
To avoid the breaking in period every time you go on a dive holiday, you should log how many weights you used on each dive every single time. That way, when you show up somewhere new, you can have an idea of how many weights you need. Even if the equipment or environment is different (fresh vs salt water, 3mm shortie vs 5mm long wetsuit), if you know how many weights you used previously, you can calculate accordingly. Scuba diving very overweighted or underweighted can make your diving a lot harder and you'll blow through your air faster. If you can start your dive trip properly weighted, and all it takes it writing a few numbers in your logbook, why not do it?
Tip 3. Focus on your kicking style
Scuba diving should basically be a practice of hovering with the odd kick here or there. You could be well streamlined and properly weighted, but if you are kicking poorly, then you are cancelling out everything else. Keep your body horizontal and kick from your hips, or you can frog kick if you're feeling comfortable. Bicycle kicking, which is where you are upright and kick from your knees like you're riding a bicycle, will only kick you up towards the surface and throw your buoyancy off balance. You'll also end up kicking up the coral or sand and become the reef's and your dive group's Enemy #1, so it's to everyone's benefit if you kick properly.
Tip 4. Look ma, no hands!
Part of efficient movement underwater also involves not using your hands. Using your hands will tire you out and you run the very real risking of hitting someone in the face or breaking off some coral. There's a reason that we say you shouldn't touch coral. Yes, it's for the coral's benefit because it's very fragile and you can damage it, but it's also to protect you as well. Coral is sharp, and whatever coral cuts you have will get infected. Focus on keeping your arms clasped in of you or by your side.
One of our former instructors used to have all of his Open Water students hold their arms out in front of them in a Superman pose. This kept them aware of their arms, and it also naturally forced their bodies into a horizontal position. This was a great way to practice good kicking and hand placement until they were comfortable enough to find their own rhythm and preferences.
Tip 5. Don't be afraid to take advice
No one goes into scuba diving wanting to be a bad diver, right? But like all activities, there are some things that you'll be great at first try and some that will take work. Don't be afraid to ask for, or take advice from, more experienced divers and dive professionals. Of course, if someone is being nosy or rude, then you can tell them to butt out, but if someone offers you sane, comprehensive advice that is going to help your buoyancy or your scuba diving, then it's okay to take it. We all need advice sometimes, and it's better to take the advice and become a better diver than to believe that you're above that and never improve. As with everything in life, you can always get better, and you should always strive to do so. Life was meant for learning and growing!
And there it is, our 5 Easy Ways to Improve your Buoyancy! We hope you have an easy, breezy dive filled with wonderful schools of fish and abundant coral. Happy diving!