Last Updated: February 10, 2023
Weightless and completely free – yes, almost majestically floating through the fantastic underwater world. This experience is certainly one of the points that make diving – especially for beginners – such an incomparable experience.
Therefore, in this guide, I have compiled the best tips and some basic information for all divers who still have problems with their neutral buoyancy or simply want to improve their buoyancy control.
THE BASICS OF BUOYANCY CONTROL
In order for you as a diver to achieve a better experience in the long run, it is first of all important that you fundamentally understand what actually happens to your body in or underwater when it is neutrally tared.
The deeper you are underwater, the less buoyancy your body and equipment will experience, and the less buoyancy the air you fill your buoyancy compensator with will generate.
Better Buoyancy Control While Diving – 10 Tips
Actually, you should have already learned and internalized these physical basics in your diving training, so I have not gone into all the details and parameters – which ultimately influence buoyancy.
Here I will focus on the best tips for better buoyancy control and how you can improve your skills.
1. Choose a suitable buoyancy compensator and put it on correctly
When buying a buoyancy control jacket, make sure that it meets your needs and your current diving experience.
For example, as an occasional vacation diver, it makes no sense to buy a wing jacket for technical diving with a “power inflator” (which can “pump” a lot of air into your jacket very quickly) or as a regular cold water diver a light travel jacket with little buoyancy.
As a vacation diver, you would have a hard time getting used to the operation of the wing jacket with a “power inflator” and for cold water divers, the travel jacket might have too little max. buoyancy – both are bad for your buoyancy control, possibly even dangerous.
2. DO NOT use your buoyancy jacket to ascend & descend
Especially with beginners, I see again and again that they use their buoyancy jacket like a kind of “Rocket Belt” – air in to ascend, air out to descend. But this is completely WRONG – it can even BE DANGEROUS.
The buoyancy compensator is only there to create a neutral buoyancy – to balance on a depth, so to speak. Nothing more!
3. Fill only small amounts of air into your buoyancy compensator
A common cause of poor buoyancy can also be the incorrect use of the inflator on your buoyancy compensator. Many divers do not use the inflator with enough sensitivity, but pump too much air at once into their buoyancy compensator on a “push” or let too much air out.
Especially at shallower depths, only a “breath” more or less of air is responsible for whether you are neutrally tared or not.
Therefore, use the inflator only very dosed, pump several small air blasts into your buoyancy compensator jacket, and check after each air blast whether you already have neutral buoyancy. In this way, you will quickly improve your buoyancy and also have a lower air consumption.
4. Pay attention to the inertia of the air
Another cause of poor buoyancy – which is related to the use of the inflator – is the hasty “pumping” of additional air into your buoyancy compensator.
When you pump additional air into it, this air needs some time to develop its full effect – until it reaches the right place in the buoyancy compensator jacket to give you more buoyancy.
Therefore, after you pump additional air into your buoyancy compensator, always wait a moment and give the air time to develop its effect before you possibly “pump” more air.
5. Optimize your lead quantity for your diving environment
If you take the ideal amount of lead with you on your dive, it is much easier for you to tare better. Unnecessary lead causes a worse water position, especially for inexperienced divers, and for each additional piece of lead you also have to fill more air into your buoyancy compensator jacket to achieve neutral buoyancy.
This makes buoyancy unnecessarily difficult, because the air in your buoyancy jacket changes its buoyancy force at different diving depths due to pressure and you have to adjust the amount of air in your jacket more often if you have too much lead.
When choosing the ideal amount of lead for your dive, also consider the different conditions related to the environment and your dive equipment. In saltwater or with a 7mm wetsuit you will need more lead than in the pool with a “shorty”.
6. Make sure your dive lead fits perfectly
Similar to the conscientious donning of your buoyancy jacket, the correct fit of your dive lead is not directly responsible for better buoyancy.
However, you can achieve a better horizontal water position through a balanced distribution of your dive lead, which in turn gives you a safe feeling and good control during your dives.
Since you can fully concentrate on the dive and your neutral buoyancy, you will have a much better buoyancy than if you are lying “crooked” in the water.
7. Breathe calmly and evenly – just like above water
Besides the “basic” taring with your buoyancy compensator, you naturally also tare with your lungs with every breath – if you breathe in deeper, you rise. If you breathe out longer, you sink further.
For this reason, it is very important for better buoyancy control that you breathe calmly and evenly underwater – just as you would on the surface.
Whenever our face is in contact with water for a longer period of time, we tend to hold our breath for a moment after inhaling and even our heartbeat slows down a bit – this subconscious action is also called “dive reflex“.
Therefore you have to pay special attention to steady breathing underwater and that you don’t subconsciously hold the inhaled air and start to ascend unintentionally.
8. Practice taring in a controlled environment
In order to be able to tare better in the long run, especially as a beginner in diving, you should train your buoyancy specifically with the exercises (hovering, pivoting) that you already know from your diving course – this works best under controlled conditions such as in a swimming pool or indoor diving center.
Here there are a few “disturbing factors” that can possibly influence your buoyancy in a way. You can dive in freshwater where you have less buoyancy than in saltwater, and you don’t have to wear a heavy wetsuit to give you extra buoyancy.
This makes it easier to train and improve your buoyancy in the long run, especially at shallow depths.
9. Try to tare with your lungs on every dive
Even on “real” dives in the sea or in the lake, you can always work on improving your buoyancy by specifically using your lungs to tare during the dive.
Whenever there is nothing exciting happening that you need to concentrate on, just try to breathe out a little deeper and see what happens. When you start to sink a little, inhale a little deeper to ascend again – repeat this a few times during the dive whenever you feel like it.
You’ll quickly get a much better feel for how to tare more efficiently and better with your lungs.
10. Use the safety stop to improve your buoyancy
The obligatory safety stop at the end of each dive gives you the ideal opportunity to continue working on your buoyancy.
Try to stay in 5 meters of water for the entire 3 minutes and do not ascend or descend more than 20 or 30 centimeters. It is best to look only at your dive computer or depth gauge and concentrate on your breathing.
At the end of a dive with an almost empty tank and at a shallow depth of only 5 meters it is quite difficult for beginners to keep the exact depth permanently, but you will see that with regular training you will quickly improve your buoyancy and keep your depth more easily.
My unbounded love for the oceans and everything it has to offer motivated me to pursue my passion and become a professional scuba diving instructor.
I keep reading, exploring, and learning more about scuba diving and the underwater world all the time, so I’m excited to share my knowledge with fellow scuba enthusiasts and hopefully contribute a little to your development as a diver. I want people to fall in love with the oceans with as much passion as I have. Read more about me here.