A How-To Guide for Backroll Entries

Learning How-To Perfect your Backroll Water Entry with Scuba Gear

Backroll entries are a fun-filled way to get in the water moments before the dive, but there is a certain fineness to throwing yourself in the water backward, equipped with heavy scuba gear.
 

How-to Perfect your Backroll Entry

Backroll entries should be as easy as suiting up in dive gear, rolling backward off the boat and letting the cushion of water envelope your body and flood your wetsuit.

Almost anyone can do a backroll into the water, but like anything, it does take a few tries to indeed perfect this type of dive entry. Backroll is not a skill that is generally taught in the Open Water course, and while it may be second nature to some, for first-time scuba divers it can be intimidating.

Scuba Divers Rolling Off The Dive Boat Into The Water In Mexico
 

Pre Backroll Preparation

Whether you’re backrolling from the bouncy sides of a RIB or high up off the railing of a dive boat there are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for a backroll dive entry:

1. Are you doing a positive or negative entry?

Determining if you are doing a positive or negative entry will dictate if you BCD should be inflated, so you bob up to the surface after entering the water and signal the captain or if you should dump the air so you can negatively descend into the current and regroup with your dive buddy underwater.

2. Does everyone roll together or do you enter the water individually?

Sometimes on drifts, the captain will place the boat in a perfect position to reach the dive site utilizing the strong current. On these drifts, there is no time to dally at the surface and divers roll off the boat in unison, executing a negative entry regrouping as they drift underwater. In these instances, it is essential that when the captain counts down, all divers roll together and not a moment before or after. Roll too soon, and you might get clobbered by a dive tank, roll too late, and you might land on top of someone else.

Alternatively, when conditions are friendlier, divers can inflate their BCD and roll off the boat one-by-one, as they finish their dive preparations, coming together at the surface before starting the dive.

Nicole Rolling Into The Water For A Dive In Zihuatanejo, Mexico
 

When is it Best to do a Backroll

The scuba backroll is the best water entry technique for getting into the water from a RIB, zodiac, or small boat. While you can use the backroll entry for larger vessels, sometimes the sides are too high from the surface of the water, making this type of entry unsafe. Some bigger boats might not have appropriate platforms for divers to enter the water via giant stride, in which case the backroll is the go-to entry method. In general, use your common sense and training knowledge to determine what method is the best fit for your situation.

Acing your Backroll Entry

Once you’ve established the dive logistics with the group, it’s time to roll into the water, literally! Here is a step by step guide for acing you backroll dive entry:

  1. Once you are suited up, check that your tank is turned on and that all your equipment is firmly in place and secure. This check includes hoses, backup regulators and other loose miscellaneous gear.
  2. Inflate or deflate your BCD, depending on if you are required to make a positive or negative entry, as discussed in the pre backroll preparation.
  3. Position yourself with your bum sitting at the edge of the dive boat facing inwards, with your tank dangling above the water.
  4. Make sure the water behind you is clear of persons, animals or objects. Generally, the captain or divemaster will let you know, but it’s always good to glance over your shoulder and check for yourself.
  5. Secure your mask and regulator (which should be in your mouth) with one hand, and the mask strap behind your head with the other.
  6. Tuck your chin in towards your chest to prevent the back of your head from hitting your tank valve. (Note: the hand holding your mask strap will also help prevent head-tank valve impact)
  7. Place your feet and ankles together and gently lean back letting gravity pull you off the boat and into the water.
  8. As you fall, extend your legs so that they are straight to avoid bashing them on the side of the boat.
  9. If you’re doing a positive entry, surface, swim away from the boat to ensure you aren’t in the way of others rolling in and give the captain the okay signal.
  10. Check that your gear is still in place before commencing your dive.

A Scuba Diver Preparing To Execute A Backroll Dive Entry Into The Ocean From A Boat
 

Preparing for Backroll Mishaps

As with anything in life, mishaps do happen, and scuba diving entries are no different.

During backroll entries, we’ve seen many-a-diver lose their mask, bash their legs on the side of the dive boat and even land on top of another unsuspecting person. Don’t let that be you! Here are some tips to help you avoid backroll catastrophe:

  • Do not forget to turn on your air. Some divers get so nervous at the much-anticipated backroll entry that they forget to turn on their tanks and wind up rolling in and not being able to breathe or inflate their BCD.
  • Do not force yourself backward with a giant push. Pushing yourself off the boat will likely make your legs flip over your head and can result in a disorientating underwater somersault.
  • Do not dwindle around the side of the boat after you roll. Hanging out beside the dive boat while others are still entering the water increases your chances of having someone backroll onto you. Once you hit the water, distance yourself from the boat and signal the captain that you are okay.

Maude In Scuba Diving Gear Rolling Backwards Into The Pacific Ocean, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
 

Backroll Entry Recap

Backroll scuba entries are a mixture of practice, self-aware and general common sense.

For those who have done them, they can be a breeze. For those who have yet to try this entry, it can be nerve-wracking.

The first time you backroll enter into the water it can be a little disorientating. Relax and trust in your gear. With your regulator in you can breathe underwater, and if your meeting the group at the surface, the air in your BCD will get you there in no time.

A Female Scuba Diver Hitting The Water After A Backroll Off The Dive Boat

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  • Diving Zenobia
    September 9 2019

    A great content. I want to talk. Please contact me by email danecypru[at]gmail.com.

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