3 Ways to Improve your Freediving Performance
There are many things that go into improving your breath hold when freediving. What can we do to prepare our mind, body and soul?
Freedive spearfishing is a whole different kind of hunting. It requires us to prepare in ways that we usually wouldn’t associate with pursuing wild game. This is because freedive spearfishing is extremely challenging both physically and mentally. When you are swimming hours on end and constantly putting yourself in life threatening situations there is a certain amount of preparation you have to be willing to do. Some of this preparation requires an open mind and may be hard to except at first but if you are sick of seeing your buddy come up with big fish that you can’t get to you’ll try anything.
First you want to take a look at your diet. Before a dive you will want to eat light, get hydrated and avoid coffee or other diuretics. Normalize the acidity in your blood by eating alkalizing foods like fruits and vegetables. You will also want to decrease the amount of free radicals in your body that interfere with cell function and other blood molecules. The best way to get rid of free radicals is eat foods rich in antioxidants. Good sources of antioxidants are:
- Vitamin C acts as a direct antioxidant and can be found in broccoli, grapefruit, mangoes, oranges, papayas and strawberries.
- Vitamin E found in almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, margarine, mayonnaise.
- Lipoic acid is unique, in that it is both water and fat soluble. For this reason lipoic acid can act pretty well anywhere in the body, therefore becoming well known as the “universal antioxidant”.
- NAC is probably the most effective antioxidant.
- Beta Carotene found in sweet potato, spinach, broccoli, carrots, apricots, mangoes, papayas.
- Selenium found in meats, seafood, whole grain products.
The mind is a powerful thing that needs to be dealt with to get a long breath hold and deep dive. When it comes to stress and indecision your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You can’t control the voice of fear that creeps out of the subconscious but you can learn to deal with it in a positive way. You first have to listen to it and identify what it’s trying to instill. Then you have to incorporate a combination of detachment and relaxation to quiet it.
This comes with time but once you make a good dive and don’t give it any attention – the next time the voice comes up you will feel more confident in dealing with it and realize that it’s irrelevant.
One of the first things a beginner freediver needs to understand is that the need to breath we’ve all felt at some point isn’t because you’re running out of oxygen – it’s because your body isn’t used to the levels of carbon dioxide it’s experiencing. This causes your brain to send a strong signal to breathe again. However, if you’re able to push through the initial urge and stay relaxed and calm despite the strong urge to breathe, then you can extend your breath hold for a long time after that. It has to do with mental control and staying relaxed.
The relaxation has a direct correlation with your everyday life. You need a good diet, enough sleep, exercise, and a regular daily rhythm to avoid stress. I know this sounds sappy but it’s pivotal that you give your mind and body the best possible fuel and internal environment to work in if you want to reap the benefits of heightened relaxation as a functional tool.
Talking about spirituality is probably the last thing you would consider when trying to improve your freediving performance. One thing that is extremely valuable to freediving is to be able to detach from stress, emotions, and negative thoughts. It takes training to detach and a good way to train is through meditation or just taking 10 to 15 minutes a day to quiet and empty your mind of all that you have going on. Practice breathing up taking in deep breaths and slowly blowing out. The more you understand yourself and how you’re hardwired the better you will be at overcoming the psychological blocks.
Try these techniques and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get immediate results. These things take time and practice to become effective.