One of the most mentally demanding disciplines in Freediving is Static.
Static Apnea is a Freediving Discipline in which an athlete holds their breath, laying on the surface of water with their airways submerged for as long as they can, always supported by the coach.
I will give a few tips for beginners who would like to improve their performances.
I believe in ‘training challenges’ and introducing new ways of training in freediving is a must, as we will never know what may work for us as an individual if we do not try out different methods. Sometimes it is the little details that will change the way you dive and improve your overall performance. It is a mental game and preparation is key.
1/ Sufficient ‘breathe ups’ are important and from person to person it varies.
I would suggest that you take great care in way you breathe as it is easy to breath too quickly and too deeply, that will result in hyperventilation which is very much a gray area and not recommended because of the dangers its carries.
Breathing should be smooth, slow and controlled just like when we are going to sleep, that alone will allow us to relax and slow down our heart rate which will reduce oxygen consumption.
Visualisation is one of the techniques I teach my students, rather to try not think about any random thought, but to focus their thoughts on something positive to occupy your brain to keep it filled with relaxing positive thoughts, sing a song, listen to music or just imagine a walk in the park, time on the beach or in a forest, if that is what you’d enjoy. Try to keep your eyes closed – our brain use’s a lot of valuable oxygen so even by closing your eyes you can reduce your consumption levels.
2/ Wetsuits are one of the things that some new athletes don’t pay too much attention to and I believe it has a great importance in your performance.
Finding the right wetsuit for static in a pool is vital, as you ideally want to find the balance between remaining comfortable without getting too cold or too warm during the preparation stage and performance stage of your static.
I would recommend to some people, that they use a hoodless wetsuit or take it off their hood in the main static, for a few reasons; free movement of the neck and preventing the body from getting to hot while performing in last phase of their breath hold and general comfort . As an alternative, you could choose to wear a swimming cap, if that helps keep the balance of temperature and comfort.
Many of us who favour static, have different wetsuits for performances and most are made to measure, to allow for a full breath of air, without jeopardising the fit, which keeps the body temperature controlled.
3/ Nutrition plays a huge role in all sports and it is the same with Freediving (you are what you eat), I don’t eat for at least 12-18 hrs before my performance as I like my body to be calm and for it not to be concentrating on digesting foods, but that’s just me, many people are not comfortable with not eating as that slight hunger distracts them and instead of thinking about the performance, they are thinking about food!
I suggest avoiding meat and dairy for at least a couple of days before your final performance, ideally throughout any serious training programmes too, as our body takes lots of time and energy to consume it and it often is the cause of fatigue and mucus. Instead try raw vegetables and fruit, an alkaline diet is the way.
Why not try this; squeezed juices from 2 lemons in a glass of mineral water, that will help our blood to be more alkaline try that 1.5h before training.
4/ Practise your surface protocol and recovery breathing. I’ve seen many athletes doing great performances and failing on their protocol, I’ve done it myself and I know how it hurts to fail on not correctly finishing the protocol. It has to be finished correctly so PRACTICE the surface protocol on every training session and you will succeed.
5/ Avoid staying in sitting position for longer period of time at the end of your performances, as it will change blood flow and could end your performance with failure.
6/ Trust your coach! In many occasions it is the coach that makes the decision when a diver should end his/her performance and with that build up of trust you can relax and extend your dive to the edge of your limits.
Near the end of a performance you begin to reach a hypoxic stage and some of the bodies signals can be missed, with lots of thoughts already going on in our brain and our body fighting, we could push to far and end up with the red card. Your coach is your safety, best friend and saviour to talk to you clearly enough, telling you when to surface at the right time.
7/ Write your training dairy with all the details of foods eaten and drinks on the day. Note your general mood, and performance achieved on the training – that way you will see your progress. If no progress is achieved in several days, you will have to look at your training and change and tweak your training program.
If you are not experienced enough to write your training program then seek help from a freediving instructor who specialises in static training, to help you form a suitable program
and avoid overtraining.
8/ Training to tolerate high CO2 levels in our body is one of the ways to improve our time, as that is main reason why we quit in the performance. Training requires adaptation of our body to high concentrations of CO2 which will allow us to stay longer and delay the contractions.
Listed are 2 exercises that will begin to improve your overall performance with time;
Apnea-walks – a dry exercise walking with one breath of air for as far as you feel comfortable, when you need to, begin recovery breathing and then prepare for another walk. Continue this exercise 4-6 times (this exercise should be done with buddy who is observing you.)
Static dry breath hold- lying in bed, relax for 5 min then start holding your breath only to first contraction, then begin recovery breathing and prepare for the next breath-hold. Repeat 6 times.
This article is not a substitute for Static specific or Freediving courses and should be used as guidance only; we recommend that a Freediving course should be taken to understand all aspects of the training techniques, physiology and safety aspects of the sport.
Freediving is a beautiful sport so enjoy it and please stay safe – Never Dive Alone
For training and static courses you can visit us on:
Blue Water Freediving School
Adam Drzazga & Shirley Turner
Search AIDA International for courses and Instructors near you.