Greenhorn’s Guide #6: How to Improve Your Buoyancy

Greenhorn’s Guide #6: How to Improve Your Buoyancy

One of the hardest things to master when you first set out to learn scuba diving is buoyancy! During your open water training, you might have seen your instructor hanging in the water like Buddha himself and wondered how he is doing that. With this guide, you can improve your buoyancy fast and you can practice it basically anywhere.

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Buoyancy, The Hover Method

The hover skill is one you might remember from your open water training. This is actually a great skill to improve your buoyancy and you can practice it anywhere. Like with any skill, practice makes perfect, and the best way to master this skill is to work on it during it every dive. An easy way to integrate it into your dive is to do it during a safety stop at the end of your dive.

3 Small Puffs

Start your journey with negative buoyancy on the bottom and add three small puffs of air to your BCD with your inflator. Now breathe in and see if you have some lift. No? Then add three more puffs of air and breathe in again, by now you should feel a bit of lift but you probably haven’t reached neutral buoyancy yet. From this point on it is better to add one puff at a time. Keep adding puffs of air until you have sufficient lift when you breathe in.  The goal of the skill is to remain neutrally buoyant in the water, when this happens you can’t touch the ground nor break the surface. The best way to control it is by breathing in the correct manner.

How Should I Breathe?

Most new divers try to control their position and depth by using their arms and legs but the best way to do this is by using your lungs. When you slowly breathe in you will notice you are starting to ascend a bit. When you slowly breathe out you will descend a bit, the faster you breathe out the more you stay on level, and the slower you breathe in the more you will ascend. The most important thing is that you keep breathing and don’t hold your breath. The variety in speed in which you breathe in and breathe out is what gives you control over your buoyancy. This takes some practice and getting used to.


Often when performing this skill during an open water course the position taught is like the picture above. However, this isn’t the only way to hover correctly. Other ways are wrapping your arms around your knees and sort of sitting in the water, it’s even possible to put your hands behind your head and lie down as if you’re in a hammock. Just find a position in which you feel the most comfortable and practice with it. It is important that your hands and legs are crossed or holding something because when they are free you tend to use them for balance, which we don’t want.

If you need help it is always possible to ask an experienced buddy to coach you. Alternatively, you could enroll in an SSI Perfect Buoyancy/PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty course.

The buoyancy techniques you practice are needed for every dive you do. The sooner you have good buoyancy, the sooner you will truly enjoy scuba diving.