The extent to which individual divers will be affected will vary considerably based on their original level of skill, range of experience, the extent of any lay-off and any changes in circumstances, such as physical fitness.

Those with limited experience will not have consolidated their skills as much as a highly qualified and vastly experienced diver will and each will be able to recover those skills to a pre-existing standard at different rates.

Ocean Diver

Divers with Ocean Diver (or similar entry-level qualifications) skills may be less ingrained than for an experienced diver with hundreds of dives and so those skills will deteriorate quicker than they would with greater experience. Consequently, it may be necessary to refresh and practise the full range of skills taught in any initial training including:

  • Buoyancy control
    Fundamental to all diving levels and whilst practised initially static, practice should include maintaining neutral buoyancy throughout any dive.
    Skills should include: weight check; weight system release operation; inflate and deflate valve operation; direct feed disconnection.
  • Personal skills
    Mask clearing; AS recovery; entry/exit methods.
  • Buddy diving skills
    Dive planning (including gas and decompression management), dive leading, navigation.
  • Emergency skills
    AS supply and ascent; CBL; surface tow; casualty weight jettison.

Instructors can usefully use the Sports Diver Instructor Manual for refresher/orientation dive (SOR-O) to deliver much of the above content.

Sports Diver to Dive Leader

Divers with higher qualifications and experience will still need to refresh core skills relevant to their planned diving activity.

Consideration should be given to:

  • Buoyancy control
    Especially in support of the conduct of stage decompression stop diving to ensure that all phases of the dive can be completed within appropriate buoyancy standards. Gold standard should be considered the minimum requirement where any mandatory stops are required or anticipated.
  • Personal skills
    These will include the effective handling of any equipment such as compass, reels, torches etc., as well as skills specific to the conduct of decompression stops including gas switching and DSMB deployment.
  • Dive management skills
    Dive planning (including gas and decompression management) for yourself and others, dive leading, navigation. Dive management skills should also incorporate any requirements to ensure Covid-19 safe diving requirements.
  • Emergency skills
    It is fortunately rare for rescue skills to be called upon. However, as a result, those skills are known to deteriorate over time. It is valuable for all divers to refresh those skills regularly and this is a good opportunity to incorporate that practice alongside refreshing other skills.

Instructors can make use of the training content of Sports Diver, Diver Leader and any other relevant courses such as Buoyancy and Trim, ADP etc. to support refresher training. 


It is important that Instructors also refresh their own skills appropriate to any skills they are going to teach students (either as a refresher or teaching new skills) prior to starting to teach any students. The guidance above will be equally relevant for instructors to either self-development or mutually supportive with another instructor.

CCR rebreather divers

It is generally accepted that to safely dive a rebreather requires a higher level of competence than open circuit equipment. All skills degrade over time so the prolonged periods of lockdown make it likely that there are a substantial number of rebreather divers who have experienced skill fade.

The NDC Technical group provide separate skills practice guidance for rebreather divers.

Skills videos for Ocean Diver trainees

Whether you're still learning to dive or just want to brush up on your skills, we have some videos that take you through the basics to help you on your way.

Check it out

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