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So you’ve done a course or two, you know the basics and you’re ready to train to become a better freediver …But what exactly should you do?
Whether you want to enjoy exploring the reef for longer, or you want to eventually compete in freediving competitions, there are many ways to improve and perfect your freediving skills.
If you want to improve on your freediving technique, get deeper, and/or get more comfortable with holding your breath, a coach will guide you to achieve these goals in a safe, efficient way. A coach can help you by making a program and schedule for you to stick to, they can look at your equalization issues and help you to solve them, or make equalization smoother, they will tweak your technique, and they’ll offer valuable knowledge from their vast experience.
You can find an in-person coach, or, if you can’t get to them, many coaches are available for distance coaching via regular video chats. This is an investment that is definitely worthwhile in the long run. Trying to progress on your own can be confusing, overwhelming, and takes a lot of time and research. Coaches are experts and can help solve your problems and improve your freediving technique in a short amount of time.
Finding a more experienced freediver who is willing to mentor you would also be beneficial if getting a coach isn’t an option for you right now. You can go out diving together and they can offer valuable tips and knowledge, as well as reliable safety.
The best way to become a better freediver? …dive, dive, dive.
Just like with any hobby, the more you practice, the better you will become. There’s a lot of information out there to research and this is very valuable, but this information won’t help you if you don’t put it into practice regularly. So finding a regular dive buddy is your best way to get the practice in.
Depending on where you live, it might not be possible to go depth diving five times a week, but perhaps there is a club you can join. There are many clubs around the world where you can meet like-minded freedivers to dive with regularly, and potentially make lifelong friends. Many clubs organize diving trips where everyone can chip in to reduce the cost of boats, equipment, etc.
If you don’t live near depth, then you can look at joining a pool club, or finding a buddy to do pool drills with. If you practice technique and breathhold in the pool, it will feel easier when you can deep dive. Or, you might find that pool diving is your preferred form of freediving and ditch depth all together!
A healthy mix of in-water training and dry practice is the recipe for becoming a better freediver.
Something you can’t practice enough is equalization. A coach will be able to guide you on what you should be practicing for your specific equalization technique or issue, but there are also many YouTube videos out there to follow. Buying an EQ tool would be a good investment, as they allow you to check your doing the right thing while equalizing.
Dry statics are a great way to start the day, and are something you don’t need a buddy for. Lying comfortably on the floor or a bed, use a nose clip if you have one and give yourself a good amount of time to breathe up. Make sure you feel very relaxed and you’re holding no tension. When you feel ready, take your final breath and start the timer. It’s fun to see what your maximum breath hold is, but you don’t always have to push yourself to your limit. Just holding until the first contraction is a good practice, which should get postponed each day with regular dry training. A coach will be able to advise you on how long you should do, and for how many sets.
Pranayama and breathwork is also great dry practice. There are online classes, or videos to follow to make it easier while you’re learning. Breathwork is an amazing tool to help with relaxation and calming the mind. Learning how to breathe in the right way can extend your breath hold time and make freediving feel more pleasurable.
It’s so nice to see yourself progressing and reaching your goals. So set yourself reachable goals and make a plan to achieve them. A coach would help you to do this.
Write down a sentence or two after each session, whether it’s a dry session, depth session, or pool session. Keep track of what you did, and how you felt at different moments. You can write down when you felt the first urge to breathe, first contraction, etc. You’ll be able to look back and see how much you’re improved.
Videoing your dives and looking back at it to see finning technique etc is also a great tool for improvement.
There is so much information out there about freediving, it can be quite overwhelming. Many online experts offer free, and very valuable advice, and a great way to learn is to follow more than one of these experts. Everyone sees things differently and approaches teaching in a different way, you might find that an expert offers a piece of advice that doesn’t quite work for you, but then another piece that really helps you. This is likely to frequently be the case, so go into the learning with an open mind, check out a few different websites and YouTube channels, and see what works for you and what doesn’t.
Following coaches and athletes on social media is another great way to learn, see how they are training, and get inspired to keep your training up.
Stretching is a nice daily practice for divers and non-divers alike. It keeps you flexible and is a form of light exercise.
As a beginner, flexibility is not all that important for freediving. But if you plan to become a deep diver, you will need more flexibility down the road to move efficiently in the water. So why not start now?
Yin yoga is a calm practice that can be done right before a dive session, as it is slow and relaxed it will keep you in the right headspace for diving. If you stretch at other times, you can choose more challenging, faster yoga practices if this is what you enjoy. Again, YouTube can become your best friend and will offer you many free videos to follow along. Or you could join a local yoga class!