The countdown is on. Only three weeks to go until the start of the next PADI IDC program here in Costa Rica. I have some great Divemaster students that are finishing up and will be preparing over the next week or so for the big event. For those of you that don’t know, the IDC is the PADI instructor development program. On the road to becoming a scuba diving professional the first step that you take is the Divemaster program.

During this program you really hone your skills as a dive professional. This is navigating, buoyancy, control and dive planning amongst many of the skills The IDC is more focused on teaching. It teaches you “how to teach”. How to breakdown the various programs and explain them effectively to someone else. It will polish your skills that you learnt during the Divemaster but the focus is teaching. So, saying that, here are some of the things, you should know and think about, I feel, before embarking on a PADI Instructor program.

Its teaching you how to teach

Yes, already repeating myself here. It’s teaching you how to teach. That is the instructor program. I highly recommend that you have your basic scuba skills in line before you get there so you can focus on what you need to focus on. You don’t want to worry about learning how to navigate when you are supposed to be teaching someone else. And yes, I have seen people come onto an IDC program with no idea. Bad teaching of a Divemaster is my thoughts.

Natural navigation skill for a PADI IDC

How to naturally navigate

Staring at a compass and following a line is not always a good way to navigate. You need to be aware of your surroundings. You need to be aware of the local environment and be able to navigate you and your students through it. What if the current changes? What if you hit a thermocline or bad viz? Depending on where you are diving all of these things can come into play. Depth is another big one. Watch it please! There will be many times when you may be teaching or guiding on sites that you are not overly familiar with. But you should be able to navigate reasonably in the local environment so this shouldn’t be a problem. Get the experience guiding, so that when you are teaching, it comes more naturally.

practicing in the pool before an IDC

Buoyancy control

Again, something that should have been worked on previously from your first course and then polished during your Advanced and Divemaster program. If you do not have good buoyancy and cannot demonstrate skills neutrally buoyant, what sort of an example are you setting for your students? A bad one. If you need to work on it then do so before the course. Struggling to hold a hover does not a good instructor make.

IDC Skills circuit with 5s and neutrally buoyant

I remember way back when I was completing my PADI IDC. One of the comments when we did the skill circuit was “you’ve been practicing”. I’m sorry what? You mean I can do my skills and demo them like I was taught and practiced in my Divemaster? Wow! Yes I can. Thank you to a good Divemaster program. The skill circuit in the PADI IDC is the same as the one in the Divemaster one and marked the same. Therefore it should be a doddle to just repeat right? Even if it’s a been a while since you did it, with a quick run through it should be good to go. And we are aiming for neutral buoyancy skills right. Always setting a good example. Practice well before your IDC.

Equipment fixes

putting equipment together

Okay, so not technically part of the curriculum but if I have any instructor candidates and they don’t know how to do the simplest things like change an o-ring, change a mouthpiece and realign an o-ring on a hose I am slightly concerned. You need to be able to do quick easy fixes when you are with your students and clients so if you don’t know how, learn please! You will thank me later!

Control of students and clients

controlled ascent with a student

Again, comes with experience but you can have a good base before you start the course. If you have a good idea of how to keep control of your group before you start adding skills and extras into the mix you are in a good spot. For example, performing a descent. This is where I see so many PADI IDC candidates have problems. They are just not used to being able to control people when they descend. Now in all fairness certified divers, who you work with the most when you are guiding are normally pretty capable of ascending but there are plenty of times when you may have to be signaling a group when descending, and keeping an eye on a lot of moving parts. More so when instructing so if you have this under control, will help you a lot as you step into teaching.

So, looking at these things I hope it gives you something to think about. I write it as I try to be helpful and I hope I am. If you are working towards your PADI IDC, good luck and have fun!