When we do something new, we often benefit from rehearsing the skills and getting familiar with the situation. To actually do this, we need to be in the real-life situation. In scuba diving that usually means underwater, with all of our kit and people to dive with. But we don’t have to be! We can also practice skills using mental rehearsal for scuba diving.
What is mental rehearsal?
It’s like actual rehearsal, but done in our minds. We imagine ourselves in the situation and think through all the actions we will take in order to carry out a task. Mental rehearsal is a recognised technique used by athletes and sports people. They use it because it works!
Studies have shown that those who use mental rehearsal in addition to actual practice of skills are more successful that using only actual practice. As well as improving performance and enhancing confidence, mental rehearsal can also reduce anxiety associated with performing a task.
So why aren’t we using it more often in scuba diving?
There have been some studies that have shown new divers perform skills better, and are less anxious when mental rehearsal is part of training. Some dive training does include mental rehearsal of skills and some instructors use aspects of it within courses. There are also courses that include explicit references to mental rehearsal and visualisation. However, its rare to spend significant time really learning how to do mental rehearsal as a skill itself.
How does mental rehearsal benefit scuba divers?
Mental rehearsal of skills can enhance performance of skills so the diver can carry out tasks with less effort. Increased skill and lower anxiety about specific skills means the diver is more confident about dealing with issues that may occur, so they can relax. For more challenging dives, such as cave diving or decompression dives, mental rehearsal gives the option of running through the dive several times before carrying it out (like a racing driver imagining the course). This can help the diver identify the skills they will need and prepare for various outcomes, so it increases the chances of a successful dive.
This page is part of the series in “invisible skills” for scuba divers, for information on other psychological skills for scuba diving. To read about more invisible skills, check out this page … or take the first course in the series now.
Check out the Mental Rehearsal for Scuba Divers course now!