Mark Paisey and friends explain how BSAC’s Regional Coaching Scheme works, and how your Coach may be able to help you or your branch, especially as we take the first few steps back towards club activity.

Get to know your Regional Coach

BSAC is divided into 15 geographical regions, each supported by a regional team led by a Regional Coach. These regional teams exist to support clubs and members by offering a range of training opportunities that may not be available through all BSAC clubs.

The Regional Coach is a volunteer position offered to all Advanced and National Instructors registered in the region. Selection is by application for a three-year term and agreed between the National Diving Officer (NDO), the Coaching Adviser and the outgoing Regional Coach. The Regional Coach is inducted to the role through the Coach Development Course. This course explains the role of the Coach, how to build a regional team and manage a regional structure that delivers a wide range of activities.

l3Coaches are trained on how to 'boss' events, manage personal development plans and give feedback. Great emphasis is placed on making use of effective means of communication such as WhatsApp and Facebook, to ensure clubs and Direct members are engaged and their needs met.

The Coach will then seek volunteers to join their team. Perhaps the most important is the Skills Development Course Organiser or SDCO. This person maintains the smooth running of the Programme of Events throughout the year, liaising with HQ, instructors and members to ensure all needs are met. Group leads and instructors are then sought to coordinate specific diver grade training such as First Class Diver preparation, or special interest training such as seamanship skills alongside Skill Development Courses (SDC) from the Diver Training Programme. The regional team, therefore, provides an ideal opportunity for any Open Water Instructor (OWI) to develop their instructional skills by teaching outside their branch on regional courses. You can learn how to deliver SDCs and achieve 'approved' instructor status such as Boat Handling or Accelerated Decompression Procedures instructor.

Each team will normally make contact with a club within their region annually. This takes the form of a phone call to survey how best the team can support the club's needs. The feedback from this survey enables the Regional Coach to plan the following year’s Programme of Events and direct members to regional groups that can help them (for example, this would apply to First Class Diver preparations). The survey also offers the opportunity for the Coach to arrange a visit to the branch; this frequently results in greater integration of the branch into the region and sharing of resources to solve problems such as pool sharing or lack of instructors.

Changes for 2020

In 2020 the coaching teams will start to focus more on ‘Coaching and Mentoring’ in several new ways. First, by providing development pathways for Assistant Diving Instructors (ADIs) to progress from their Instructor L1Foundation Course to Open Water Instructor. If you are on an Instructor Foundation Course in 2020, expect to get a call from the team to help you with this. Second, lapsed members who are instructors, will also get a call from the teams to ask why they have lapsed and what can be done to help them rejoin BSAC.

Third, we will be offering Open Water Instructor (OWI) refreshers to clubs, delivered by National Instructors, to provide an opportunity to re-engage with BSAC teaching methods. This was run very successfully in the North West for Potteries Divers and shows how the region can create ad-hoc events to help with specific club needs. 

Finally, the coaching teams will contact each club when their Diving Officer (DO) changes over, offering support in their new role, through the DO workshop material.

Overall, the teams have three roles:

  • support the branches
  • develop instructors
  • promote BSAC

To do this the regional teams have access to many resources, but they are always grateful for offers of support by branches for kit, instructors and space. Mike Turner, Southport SAC, recently used his branch assets to run a Practical Rescue Management event for the North West region, showing how clubs can support their region.

Promoting BSAC

Branch support and instructor development has been described above, but how do the teams promote BSAC? First, many regions have developed active special interest groups promoting areas of the sport not readily accessible in clubs. Examples are CCR and Sidemount Try Dives, both pool and open water events which have led onto Skill Development Courses. Opportunities coming your way soon include Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) Try Dives, which will also lead to an SDC.

Some Regions also offer expedition groups aimed at progressively developing your experience after courses. This has been the case with Technical groups, but also Advanced Diver groups, Advanced Instructor preparation groups and Dive Leader training groups.

Next steps

The Regional Coaches and their teams are primarily there to support our members. Many members are well supported in large, active branches, however many of our members choose to be in smaller branches, BSAC l2Direct, or live in regions where, due to geographical constraints, there is less training activity.

There is no reason why you cannot achieve all your diving aspirations within BSAC and the Regional Teams are there to help you with this. So use the Events section of to follow what’s on. You can email your Regional Coach if you’d like to join the team or have specific request.

Finally, the Regional Teams will be working with BSAC Centres in 2020 to create a partnership with participating branches. The model will reflect a ‘hub and spoke’ system, with each participating Centre paired with a number of participating clubs. Clubs receiving training enquiries will, therefore, be able to offer prompt Ocean Diver training through the paired Centre, thus freeing up instructor training capacity for other diver grades.

Trainees choosing this system will benefit from prompt training, access to equipment sales through the Centre with a BSAC member discount, membership of BSAC and the partnering branch. If you struggle to have enough available instructors and this arrangement suits your branch then please contact your Regional Coach, who will arrange for the scheme organiser to contact you.



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This Learning Curve was originally published in SCUBA magazine, Issue 101 April 2020. For more membership benefits, visit

Images in this online version may have been substituted from the original images in SCUBA magazine due to usage rights.

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