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Backwards Rolling Off a Boat on Scuba: Tips and Techniques

For scuba divers, one of the most exciting parts of a dive is the moment when you roll off the boat and descend into the underwater world. While there are many ways to enter the water, one of the most popular and effective techniques in South Africa is the backwards roll.

Backwards rolling off a boat on scuba can seem intimidating at first, especially if you're new to the sport. However, with a little practice and some simple tips and techniques, you can master this skill and enjoy a safe and smooth entry every time.

Why Backwards Rolling? Because rolled forward you’d land face first in the boat 😊

Backwards rolling is a popular technique for entering the water because it allows divers to maintain control while carrying heavy equipment. When you're wearing scuba gear, your weight and equipment can throw off your balance and make it difficult to move around on a boat. Backwards rolling helps you stay stable and reduces the risk of injury or accidents.

Backwards roll variations

There are two backwards roll variations, positive entry, and negative entry. With positive entry before rolling off the boat you inflate your buoyancy control device (BCD) so that once you’ve rolled off into the ocean you pop back up to the surface. Everyone meets at the back of the boat (this is called “hot tubbing”), and once the DM is happy everyone is present and comfortable, you deflate your BCD and slowly descend for your dive. For a negative entry, whilst still on the boat you ensure there is NO air in your BCD, so that as the group rolls off you all start descending immediately in a controlled manner. Following the DM to the dive site awaiting you at the bottom of the ocean.

Steps for Backwards Rolling

Here are the steps you can follow to perform a safe and successful backwards roll:

Prepare your gear: Once you get to the dive site, your skipper and Dive Master (DM) will move around the boat and help you gear up. Make sure your gear is properly adjusted and secured. Check that your weight belt is snug, double check that your cylinder is properly attached, and your fins and mask are all in place.

Get into position: Sit near the edge of the boat’s pontoon. Hold your regulator in your mouth and your mask in place with your right hand, and your left hand over the buckle of your weight belt.

The skipper and DM will both do a visual and verbal check to ensure everyone is ready. At this point the skipper will count down and everyone rolls off backwards at the same time. If you hesitate, rather wait and let the skipper take you back to the group and roll off separately. This will ensure you don’t roll on top of someone with a heavy cylinder whacking your fellow diver’s heads.

As you roll, keep your eyes open and look for your buddy or dive master. Once in the water the DM will ensure that the group is together, and you can descend to the beautiful depths below.

Once you're in the water, take a moment to adjust your gear and check your surroundings. Slowly descend to your desired depth and begin your dive.

Tips for Backwards Rolling

Here are some additional tips to help you master the art of backwards rolling:

Communicate with your dive buddy: Before you roll, make sure you and your dive buddy are on the same page. Decide on a signal or cue to indicate if either of you have an issue.

Maintain control: As you roll backwards, keep your arms close to your body. This will help you maintain control and reduce the risk of injury or accidents.

Keep your eyes open: It's important to keep your eyes open as you roll backwards so you can spot your buddy or dive guide and avoid any obstacles or hazards.

Stay calm: Backwards rolling can be intimidating, but it's important to stay calm and focused. Take deep breaths and remind yourself that you've practiced this technique and know what to do.


Backwards rolling off a boat on scuba is a simple but effective technique that can help you enter the water safely and with confidence. By following these tips and techniques, you can master this skill and enjoy a smooth and successful dive every time. Remember to always communicate with your dive buddy, maintain control, and stay calm and focused. With a little practice, you'll be rolling off the boat like a pro in no time!

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