I agree with Lamont - that's how our team got to the diving we're doing now. Progressive. Each quarter we'd push a bit more, stay a little longer, find out if we're itchy or if we're OK, then go do it again and again.
All good? Lets push it again.
Not so good? OK - what'd we learn? Lets try this. Lets try that.
OK - is that small patch on my belly from the hot pocket I ate on the boat on the way back in, or did I push it a bit today? My ankle is sore tonight - did I hit it on the cleat on the way off the boat or should I not have stayed so long on dive two? Man - I'm tired. Is this normal fatigue from a 4 dive day, is this from laying off the gym last week or is this from taking dive 4 deep on that shortened SI?
These are the things we go over after every dive. Buddies are honest with each other.
We don't dive aggressively, but we do dive very assertively - as a direct result of progressing until all was not well, then backing off a bit and finding the boundaries. We know our team's limits, we know how to bend the curve and we know how to plan AND how to improvise while in the water on the dive to squeeze every possible moment out of every possible foot of depth out of every possible molecule of gas out of every single dive - and still emerge clean enough to walk away.
By the way: There is a difference between practice and rehearsal.
Practice is wood-shedding. You, at home, metronome, rudiments, scales, repetition, weight room, intervals, eating well, crunchs, etc. The diving equivalent is clipping and un-clipping, doing bottle work as you watch Fox news, profiling dives in VPlanner, Gasturbation (reviewing gas planning until your friends are sick of you), scenario profiling, seeking learned counsel from experienced divers in the forums, in classes, in phone calls, tagging along, being shore support, keeping your head in the game and all that.
Practice is the stuff you do alone (better: you motivate yourself to do) so you don't suck when the team or the band gets together. Its "weak link" aversion gone all mid-evil. Its showing up and showing off. Its tossing the mantle of butt boy onto your buddy, and they the next time trying to throw it back on you. So you go home, do more squats and deadlifts, pour over the data, and show up more prepared the next time.
You don't practice on game day. You show up ready to play.
Rehearsal is when you execute as a team. Its the culmination of years of focused practice. Sure, you can get together in the shallows and walk through stuff - but you usually do all that in the parking lot or on the deck on the way out to the site.
Chica and I never "practice" on real dives. Laura nailed it. If we're gonna "practice" we'll go play in a pool or hover at 30 feet and mess around for a few minutes after a real dive.
Dives are too important for practice and drilling. I'm here to dive.