Meet new scuba divers, maintain a virtual dive log, participate in our forum, share underwater photos, research dive sites and more. Members login here.

How to keep SCUBA divers active after Open Water Certification
Greg - 5/12/2013 6:04 AM
Category: General
Replies: 10

It seems apparent that many divers "dropout" after completing their initial SCUBA certification. As an instructor, if I were to calculate the percent of those who rarely (if ever) dive after certification, it’s probably around 80%. I’m calculating that figure based on those who either show up for continued education courses (ie: Specialties, Advanced) or those that show up for dive trips I invite them on. A good percent may just become "vacation divers" and they are hard to calculate without regular follow-ups.

PADI’s answer has always been to push additional courses and sell dive travel. I think a largely overlooked reason is the lack of dive buddies or dive clubs. Obviously, if you’re on, you know the value of a good list of dive buddies.

Are there other reasons you can think of that create such a high dropout rate?
Can you provide an example of a dive shop that is doing everything right to keep divers active?
Is there anything else we can do on to help reduce the dropout rate?
RichKeller - 5/12/2013 6:45 AM
Having a buddy is usually the number one problem. After that would be finding times when both are available to dive. The best thing I think a dive shop can do is organize lots of local shore dives where even if your regular buddy is not available you can hook up with someone else. This will not only increase the frequency of dives made in a year but will also expand the number of potential buddies a diver can find.
Pixel - 5/12/2013 10:18 AM
Often also lack dive buddies that are on the same level. There are dive clubs who do a lot of shore dives, however I’ve also found that often the dives aren’t really suitable for "newbies" ie: entry/exit can be a bit tough, over rocks etc. And the "same level/experience" thing crops up again. Nobody wants to really dive with the person who is high on oxygen use, cause they’re still sorting that part out.
A lot of dive shops offer more boat dives, which can be costly for some of us. And if you want to do a shore dive with a DM then it’s also costly. I understand that they need to get paid for their skills, however cost I think may often be a reason for divers becoming "vacation divers".
LatitudeAdjustment - 5/12/2013 6:38 PM
You need more than one dive buddy, I had one for travel but she isn’t interested in local diving. The answer is to belong to a dive club, preferably more than one. Before I got married I also belonged to and did a few trips each year with them. In the NYC area is OceanBlue which offers trips and local dives.

A not so LDS has two clubs, offshore and a beach club plus they do training dives one night a week at a local river beach and divers are welcome to join in and practice skills or test gear.
Eric_R - 5/12/2013 7:17 PM
My local dive shop does Wednesday night dives all summer then has events all winter at a local watering hole or the shop. They are also a full service travel agency able to book any trip to get us through the cold months. There’s also always something for the none divers to do at special events.
Rinman - 5/13/2013 7:54 AM
I think part of the reason people drop out of diving is because of lack of confidence. The push is to get students diving quickly and to quickly finish up their certification as soon as possible. In my opinion this produces divers that do not have the proper confidence needed to dive without their instructor to assist them. The other reason I see divers not continue to dive is because they never wanted to in the first place. For example a wife learning to dive because her husband dives. I personally have slowed down the class to ensure my students feel comfortable with and without me. We then created a "dive buddy" system where if solo divers booked a dive on our boat we would start calling our people from our "dive buddy" list. Most of the people on the list were members of past open water classes, by calling and inviting them to dive they had a tendency to say yes.
lerpy - 5/13/2013 2:22 PM
Myself and the instructors I work with try to encourage people to get diving right after they get certified to keep them in the water. It is hard here as it is cold water and a lot of divers I think are just looking to get qualified to then dive in the nice warm waters in the south. Another big issue is cost, many students ask me how much to buy gear, and that can be scary, but also can the cost of renting all the time you want to dive, add in the cost of boats. The shop I work with is pretty good about lending gear to students after their initial training, first 5 times or so they will they will give the student free rental, as well the shop gives all graduates of the open water a free 10 fill air card to help encourage them. We also do shore dives every Sunday morning, and a boat dive every Tuesday, and then try to arrange local trips to other dive sites to help give people options.
Hamelmrj - 5/14/2013 8:12 AM
All good and valid points .... inclusive in all of these is the underlying factor, is the CONNECTION between Shop/Instuctor and Student, based upon TRANSACTION or RELATIONSHIP?

Processing students through the diver course for a fee (transactional) is hightly unlikely to create the emotional connection necessary for the student to "stick" with diving / shop / instructor. However, if their experience has in it, caring, curiosity, and a genuine interest in each student as an individual, then they will more likely see scuba diving as something they are connected to and will be more likely to contimnue. If an instructor nevers really figures out, "The WHY?", then why should they care? (Check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, Start With WHY, on YouTube for more on the WHY) ... it may just change how you see your students .... and yourself!
Greg - 5/14/2013 7:05 PM
So here’s a good list to summarize how to keep scuba divers active...

1. Lots of dive buddies with similar experience/training.
2. Frequent local events/dive trips.
3. Local active dive clubs.
4. Improved training to increase confidence and desire.
5. And something about sex underwater, the more you do it the more you want it...Is that it?