Overwhelmed with all the different information regarding freediving techniques? Check out these 7 tips to truly improve your freediving skills quickly, by Diana Garcia Benito.
This has been the most heard word in freediving, but for a reason. Body and mind relaxation are key in freediving. Without it, you enter a dangerous world. Forcing your dives or diving while you are tense is not recommended and it is very risky, as you can easily hurt yourself and the consequences can be dire. Practicing relaxation can start on land. Body scans, visualizations, meditation, and breathing exercises can help you to achieve relaxation. Practicing in itself is fundamental in freediving, by repetition the brain will get more comfortable and familiarized with situations and various scenarios. Visualizing problems or issues during a dive and mentally solving those situations will help you during the real-time dives because your brain already knows what to do. During the dives, body scans are a good start to check if there is any tension or discomfort. By noticing where the tension is you can simply stop and release that tension. An easy exercise can be by doing free immersion dives, going slowly down, doing body scan and whenever you feel tense, stop, release that tension and then go back up to the surface. Repeat several times until you feel more comfortable and then you can continue going down once you have learned how to release tension easily.
While diving in the line, your body position is as important as relaxation. Always facing the line, loosen and round your shoulders, tuck your chin and do not look up or down, tuck your hips in, keep your legs relaxed (if doing Free Immersion, if you are kicking just keep a nice rhythm and do not force the kicks), lose any tension off your belly, back, and neck, soften your facial muscles when you equalize your ears. Keeping a straight position in front of the line is not easy and it needs practice. Focus on one part of your body at a time and later on, you will be able to combine all together.
Equalization is a technique that is essential for freediving, without a good equalizing technique there is no going down in the water column. Not succeeding at compensating the decreased volume of the air spaces of your ears and sinuses due to the increase of ambient pressure as you dive down, will lead to injuries and sometimes permanent damage, that will keep you out of the water for a long time and, in the worst-case scenario, forever. For equalization, the most important thing in consideration is to know the movements. Your nose has to be pinched, with your tongue push the air inside your mouth towards the back of your mouth, keeping the tip of the tongue on the upper front row of teeth, do not inflate your cheeks or fringe your face muscles, if you hear a pop in your ears it means the air passed through to your middle ear cavity. Practice in front of the mirror, faced down and ultimate, very slowly doing free immersion on the diving line. Join equalization workshops and masterclasses to help you with your equalization, and, practice, practice, practice!
When using bifins, probably you have heard the famous phrase: do not bend your knees while kicking. The reality is, there is always going to be some bending of the knees. The concept behind keeping your legs straight while kicking is to use the biggest muscle of the legs, the quadriceps. Recently, studies have proven that there is not only one way to perform an efficient kick. Depending on your anatomy and muscle strength and fins stiffness, the bending of the knees can be more or less. The way of your descent will give you hints of what to correct in your kicking. If you are going down in spirals it means one leg is kicking harder than the other (which is normal, we have one leg stronger than the other), just try consciously to balance your kicks. If you are getting closer or getting away from the line, your forward or backward kick has more amplitude, train working on even kicks. Another tip, use your hip as if you are kicking a ball, moving them back and forth as you kick. Filming your dives is an extraordinary tool to improve your kicking technique.
Using a monofin is another story, this technique needs tons of training and strengthening lower back and abdominal muscles because those are the ones involved with this technique. The movement has to come from the hip, abs, and lower back, moving both legs at the same time and with equal force. As a difficult technique, the main advice is to attend a special workshop for this technique and is recommended to already have a good equalization performance, because freediving with the monofin is descending quicker than with bifins.
Flexibility is beneficial to your relaxation, adaptation to depth, and body position. Training your muscles for better flexibility takes time. Dry exercises with specific stretches that will increase your upper body, hips, lungs, and diaphragm flexibility are fundamental to growing in your freediving journey. With accessible stretching guides, videos, and programs, you can start a nice routine that will be very worthy for your freediving. Make sure to first start with a professional, any freediving school is perfect to learn safely. Warm-ups before your diving sessions are a must in order to avoid cramps, injuries and facilitate relaxation.
Being comfortable and free of needless stuff is indispensable in freediving. A wetsuit that fits you, not too big and not too small, that keeps you warm, flexible enough so you can move your extremities smoothly and your chest is not compressed. Foot pocket’s fins that are not loose or too tight on your feet. Proper stiffness of fin blades for your kicking technique. A face mask that is fitting your face, has low volume and has no leaks. If using a nose clip, one that adapts to your nose and pinches your nose properly for a good equalization performance. Safety lanyard that follows safety standards and with the adequate length for you. Buoy, rope, safety stop, and flags that are in good working shape and well maintained. Finally, a good neck weight that doesn't move around when descending.
Knowledge is extremely important to have safe progress in freediving. The best money you will invest will be attending courses, workshops, and masterclasses from experts in the field. Research about freediving schools, there are in various locations and countries, choose what suits you best. Do not forget to verify their credentials and professionalism. Last but not least, do not follow the “self-taught” and “video tutorials”, without the physical guidance of a professional in freediving you can hurt yourself and put others in danger.
There is something very important that you need to consider for your freediving path. Freediving techniques are very diverse and not everything is for everyone, what works for a freediver may not work for you. There are guidelines and tips but the real work is to try different ones and accept the one that works best for you. It is essential not to get frustrated and stuck in one step or one unique technique. You need to listen very carefully to your body and keep what feels good. Nowadays the scientific studies in the freediving world are increasing and with them a better understanding of the sport and techniques. But sometimes you need to put first how comfortable and relaxed you are while freediving than the perfect technique. Enjoy the dives and have fun, that is the essence of freediving!