Preparation is Key for the DMC

PADI Divemaster Crew Pack

My Toughest Lesson as a Divemaster: Preparation

By Diane

Look around on the boat. People are putting gear on, talking about their last experiences, where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. In a great group you’ll see there’s one person who’s not yet fully geared. They’re behind the diver who’s getting in the water, handing them their gloves, hood or fins before they make the leap into the blue. That person is more than likely the Divemaster.

The road to “Going PRO” can be a bumpy one, with challenges and mistakes along the way. One of most struggled with is preparation, anticipating the things your students and your instructors may need. You packed the extra regulator, the BCD, and the fins. But did you grab the mask? Make sure there were clippers in the tool box? Mouthpieces? Do you have defog? Have the students tooth pasted their masks before getting in?

It’s the fine details that can really get a Divemaster candidate flustered. Anticipating your Instructor’s needs from extra clip weights to spare snorkel keepers doesn’t just come to you right off the bat. You need the experience of being in the water with the students to really fine tune your prep methods.

The best way to make sure that your spare bag has everything it needs is to create a checklist. Whether it be simply writing it down on a piece of paper, or creating a fancy spread sheet from excel. You need to know the items the students require and to ensure that you have the proper equipment. If you’re helping with an advanced course you may want to think beyond the regular equipment of BCD/regulator/weights and look at hoods, gloves, reel or lights.

As a Divemaster, you have access to the Instructor's Manual where you can review the required materials and standards for each course. The earlier you know how to prepare for a class, the easier it will be when you take the next step in becoming an Openwater Scuba Instructor (OWSI). Being able to navigate the manual, prepare for your classes and relate to your students smoothly will make the transition from “watching” to “acting” that much easier.

Over all, the most important thing is to remember why you started. Because you love diving! Your love of diving and the natural underwater world will carry over into your teaching. If you live, breathe, eat and sleep scuba, your knowledge and experience will give your students the same passionate attitude towards diving that your teachers gave to you.

Happy Diving, DMC’s!


"Just breathe, everything else is secondary!"

2 replies
  1. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more!

    Your post gets at one of the key success factors as a dive professional, in my opinion. Experience.

    There are divers who are card collectors, and they treat the “going pro” process with the same level of “respect.”

    The most effective divemasters are those who are willing to put in the time and the effort to gain experience by working alongside instructors for a season or two before becoming instructors themselves.

    The kind of experience you gain as a divemaster really prepares you to be an effective instructor. If you skip that dive mastering process, you’re really just cheating yourself, and ultimately, your students.

    I jumped into the dive mastering role way too early. Were I to do it all over again, I’d have spent a few more seasons diving before becoming a DMC.

    That said, I made up for it by DMC-ing for a few seasons before even considering becoming an instructor. And boy did it pay off. My thinking was that I should already know how to teach by the time I enroll in the IDC, and the examination process should be a demonstration of what I know. Kinda like open water checkouts, really.

    By putting in a few seasons DM-ing, I was exposed to different students who all had unique problems and had the luxury of watching an instructor help someone overcome those issues. It helped me gain insight into the underlying causes of the problems since I wasn’t the one who had to solve them: I could be an observer and analyze the situation to learn something from it.

    Bottom line is: you can’t buy experience. And experience is the best preparation of all.

  2. Diane
    Diane says:

    I’m right with you Andrea. I think getting in the year of DMing in the pool and in openwater really helped me connect with the students. Experience is truly an important part of the learning process!

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