fin pivot open water skill
fin pivot helps acheiving perfect buoyancy

The first buoyancy control skill normally taught by Scuba Instructors is the Fin Pivot skill. It’s easy, fundamental and introduces concepts such as Negative Buoyancy, Neutral Buoyancy and Positive Buoyancy and achieving them changing our breathing pattern.

What is fin pivot?

Why fin pivot?

Where to practice fin pivot?

How to perform a fin pivot?

Fin pivot oral inflation

Fin pivot tutorial video

Fin Pivot Tips

What is Fin Pivot?

Fin pivot is a simple buoyancy control skill where a scuba diver lays on the bottom, and elevates his/hers torso simply by controlling his/hers breathing. In a way, Fin Pivot is very similar to push ups, replacing our arms with the power of our lungs.

Why Fin Pivot?

The goal of performing a proper fin pivot is to illustrate the effect our lungs’ volume has on our buoyancy. Buy understanding how to breathe right we can later, while diving, get closer or away from, critters and objects without needing to move our limbs. Proper breathing technique is essential for us in order to save energy, dive longer and avoid damage to the reef, marine life, or us and our scuba gear.

Where to practice Fin Pivot?

Regulator clearing must be conducted at any confined water, such as a swimming pool in water shallow enough to be able to stand in, in case you don’t feel comfortable performing the skill underwater.

How to perform a Fin Pivot?

1. Fully deflate your BCD.

2. Lay down on the bottom, facing down. Spread you legs and keep the knees straight. Some female divers may struggle with keeping their ankles down due to excessively buoyant ankles. If you’re one, consider the use of ankle weights, or ask for an assistant, and someone should support your ankles during the skill.

3. Avoid using your arms. Remember, we only use our breath for elevation.

4. Inhale slowly and deeply. Full lungs are more buoyant. If weigh properly, you should elevate your torso a bit. If you’re still not moving move to the next step:

5. Exhale fully and slowly.  With nearly empty lungs very gently add some air to the BCD. If you inflate the BCD to much you risk in ascending to the surface.

6. Repeat steps 4-5 until you start elevating after full inhalation. On a slow deep inhalation you ascend, while when slowly exhaling you should slowly descend and touch the bottom. That’s it. You’re good to go.

The amount of air in your BCD is what you need for neutral buoyancy on that specific depth. (You can add a tiny bit of air to compensate on the fin tips touching the bottom)

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Fin pivot oral inflation

The technique for Oral inflation fin pivot is very similar to the Power Inflator Fin Pivot. The difference is that instead of using the inflator button, you’ll use your lungs to inflate your BCD.

Why Oral inflation fin pivot?

In a very unlikely event you experience equipment failure you want to be able to complete the dive without having to abort it. On rare occasions, an inflator button might get stuck, due to sand trapped inside or poor maintenance, which may lead to a “self inflating BCD”. This may be quite serious as you’ll be forced to the surface. Don’t worry, this rarely happens and easily treated. Simply disconnect the quick connection hose and deflate your BCD. It would be a good idea to practice this technique a few times at the surface. Alternatively, you may simply want to use air leaving your lungs when breathing to inflate your BCD.

How to perform an oral inflation fin pivot?

As mentioned earlier; practice disconnecting the inflator hose on land. You should practice oral inflation too. Simply take a deep breath, and blow air to your inflator’s mouth piece, perfectly sealing it with your lips. Make sure to press the inflator button to allow air to flow into your BCD and release it as soon as you’re done. When underwater, the skills are done exactly the same, with the exception of the inflation technique.

Fin Pivot Tips:

1. Deep fast inhalation, followed by slow exhalation lets you descend.

2. Rapid exhalation followed by slow inhalation lifts you up.

3. Avoid using your limbs. If you do so, you’re doing something wrong.

Fine tune you buoyancy control by joining a peak performance buoyancy course or and Advance Open Water Diver Course

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  1. This is from a website that specializes in buoyancy mentoring:
    Fin pivoting or fin tip pivoting…is presented as a skill when it is nothing more than a trick by which the instructor demonstrates the role that breathing plays in fine tuning buoyancy. Fin pivoting is negative buoyancy! Touching is touching! It doesn’t matter if knees touch or fin tips touch… is still negative buoyancy. It is not a skill! It is an instructor tool. There are divers who still believe that they should begin each dive with a decent to the bottom and a fin pivot….preferably performed over a sandy spot. Good or great buoyancy, actually requires that you unlearn some of what you learned in your beginners course. Most divers are over weighted because that is how they started diving. ONCE MORE….fin pivoting is not a buoyancy control skill! Fin tip pivoting is an instructor tool! Divers who really understand about buoyancy will understand that!
    Now that I think back , I have seen divers actually doing fin pivots on tropical dives. Now I have to ask why? Why not practice neutral buoyancy?

  2. You have a valid point there barnley,
    “skills” are scuba instructors names for the drills an open water diver has to prove capable of before certification. Fin pivot is Negative buoyancy but some newbies find it easier to grasp first than neutral buoyancy such as hovering, while it is somewhat safer to practice first compared to hovering. It also demonstrates easily the affect of you lung volume on your buoyancy. You’re right on the point about most diver are diving negatively buoyant which we mentioned in some articles.
    Again, thanks for the clarification and your concern. Will be happy to hear from you again.

  3. Tobi, I think your article was spot on from a training perspective. That wasn’t my quote but I don’t see them, the people who said it, having an objection with it being pasted. I saw it as a caution to divers (a heads up) like “just because your instructor overweighted you and introduced you to buoyancy by fin pivoting, doesn’t mean you continue diving that way” some , not all, instructors make that distinction.

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