L'échec en plongée n'est pas une fatalité pour ce plongeur réalisant un exercice en mer

You fail during your training, a chance and/or a good idea?

Success is to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm” W. Churchill

Unlike Anglo-Saxon circles, the French-speaking world is still too often stigmatizing towards failure in general. Where our neighbors see failure as formative, we do not always succeed in giving it its rightful place. And even if in theory we say that we must learn from our failures, we are still too often ashamed when we fail. Diving trainings are not immune to our negative culture towards failure. Therefore, by following this culture, we strongly orient learners towards error-free success. (Even if we like to pretend otherwise). While it should be natural and interesting to sometimes have failure in diving.

As a result, we are faced with candidates who are stressed just at the thought of having to carry out an exercise.

However, we know that stress is a real enemy when diving. 

So how else can we deal with failure in diving?

 We learn little from victory but much from failure,” says a Japanese proverb

The idea is to learn from your failure in diving, to see what has not worked in order to be able to readjust our practice. And so, re-appropriate the exercises and adapt them to our own strengths and weaknesses.

The advantage of learning through our mistakes is also a better understanding of our personal limits.

I remember this instructor saying that she didn’t like to go below -35m deep because of the more technical side of the dives. This same instructor took great pleasure in passing on her passion to beginners in the first 20 metres. This, with great rigor, awareness and empathy also for the difficulties of others.

Failure in diving: the interest of sharing 

By discussing with the diving community it becomes clear that the feedback of experiences, particularly concerning failure in diving during training but also during explorations and recreational dives, is of interest to the community. Often, they allow emphatic and formative exchanges and see proposed paths and solutions.

Also, it seems important to me, in this world of leisure essentially, to value the right to failure. This can be done by providing learners with a safe and reassuring environment.

Once certified, divers should be able to get to know each other. But also to understand their reactions in water. 

Finally, they will need to strengthen their self-confidence to give themselves every opportunity to have the right reactions at the right time.

But how to really learn from a failed dive ?

Examine the whole rather than the detail

When you fail in one of your exercises, rather than focusing on that particular one, look at your entire training journey and take the time to globalize the experience. 

What have you learned since you started your training on all aspects of your diving course? On your partners? With your trainers? About the different environments you have dived in? About the marine animals we met? On the techniques learned?…. 

This will give you a global and constructive vision. This is not a bad training
Indeed, by doing this introspection, you will be able to reflect on your learning outcomes. But also to all the things that will allow you to move forward. And failure in diving might be a way to move on.

The global vision makes it possible to achieve all the elements already acquired and to increase one’s self-confidence rather than to feel diminished

Sharing experiences

To exchange with the diving community. Directly in your immediate surroundings. But also through other channels such as Internet sharing page. This will allow you to put things into perspective and to identify solutions.

Sharing makes it possible to identify new paths for yourself or not yet considered.


Failure places the learner in a situation of questioning his mental model which, if challenged through the search for the causes of failure and possible solutions to remedy them, can be enriched with a new understanding allowing difficulties to be overcome.

By accepting to look at failures and the ways to overcome them, we enrich our way of understanding the proposed exercise and therefore the learning process. 

Some suggestions to propose as a trainer in face of diving failure among learners:

  • Remind the learner of the specific conditions of success or failure 
  • During off-water training, deliberately guide the learner to solutions that do not work. This is to think together on paths of positive achievements of an exercise. 
  • Make them verbalize: the learners must be able to share their emotions, feelings, impressions, ideas about the causes of failure,… Tell them “it’s okay, you’ll do better next time” may not be enough to remove the negative emotion. An emotion that may well remain in their mind. And perhaps to become an obstacle to the realization of the exercise. Being able to hear the emotion and welcome it will be beneficial for the learner.
  • Point out the positive points: see with the learner what was well done in the exercise. (There are probably at least one or two things that were done properly)
  • Share with the learner your own failures to demystify. No, you are not a super-man or super-woman because you are an instructor. You too have encountered some difficulties during your journey. Come on, let’s acknowledge our own weaknesses.

It is important for learners to understand that failing an exercise during their diving training does not mean “being worse than others” but “a chance to better understand gestures and your own reactions to the aquatic environment”.

Where we say “take a risk“, the Anglo-Saxons say “take a chance

 The failure in diving, a chance?

What were your failures in diving? How did you manage and/or exceed?
How about sharing below our experiences with as many people as possible?

And above all,… don’t forget to be happy 🤗

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