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Improve your Freediving Performances: Plan Your Dive, Dive Your Plan


Curtis Tredway preparing for a freediving performance


At Deep Sensations Freediving, we're always exploring innovative ways to enhance our training and performance.


There's a golden rule that we have stolen from our scuba diving days, "Plan your dive and dive your plan".


We believe that having a strong plan can be the key to unlocking your potential and successfully completing apnea performances.


A term commonly used in sports psychology and athlete performance to describe creating a game plan and employing mental strategies at different stages is "mental rehearsal".


Mental rehearsal involves athletes mentally rehearsing or visualising their performance in their minds before executing it.


This can include visualising specific plays, movements, or strategies they intend to employ during the game or competition.


Coaches and sport practitioners often encourage their athletes to focus on process goals (e.g., taking a good final breath, performing a clean duck dive, and executing the dive plan) rather than outcome goals (hitting x depth, distance or time).


By mentally rehearsing performance, freedivers can enhance their confidence, focus, and execution when it comes time to perform.


Not only does crafting a detailed dive plan and engaging in visualisation for mental rehearsal enhance performance, but it also facilitates skill acquisition and development.


This is because the process activates the same neurons in the brain, strengthening neural pathways and optimising proficiency (https://doi.org/10.35189/dpeskj.2020.59.3.4).



What Exactly Are Mental Rehearsals?

Mental rehearsal isn't a new concept.


It's a technique that has been utilised for centuries, involving the vivid mental visualisation of actions or scenarios.


Essentially, it's a form of cognitive rehearsal that guides individuals through mental simulations of desired outcomes or performances.


By mentally practicing and visualising specific actions or scenarios, mental rehearsal aids in enhancing skills, building confidence, and preparing individuals for success in various endeavours.


Applying Mind Mapping to your Freediving

So, how does mind mapping tie into freediving, particularly static apnea training?


Think of your static session as a journey, with various phases requiring different mental strategies to navigate effectively, especially during moments of discomfort.


Crafting Your Mind Map for Static Apnea

Here's a simplified approach to mental rehearsals your static session:


Step One: Explore Mindfulness Techniques

Before diving into mind mapping, experiment with different mindfulness techniques without breath-holding. Whether it's visualisation, reciting mantras, or body scans, find what works best for you. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't fret if it feels challenging initially.



Step Two: Design Your Mindful Toolbox

Select mindful tools for each phase of your static session. This could include visualisation for relaxation, body scanning for awareness, or counting contractions for endurance. Tailor your toolbox to suit your preferences and needs.


Step Three: Map Your Phases

Now, map out your static session into distinct phases and mentally rehearse which tools you will implement at each phase.


Top Tips for Effective Mental Rehearsals:

  • Choose a vivid memory for visualisation, engaging all your senses.

  • Communicate your plan with your buddy or coach for support.

  • Be flexible with your plan, adapting as needed during your session.

  • Experiment with different tools and mappings to optimise your performance.

By embracing mental rehearsals, you can unlock new levels of focus, resilience, and performance in your freediving journey. So, grab your mental compass and chart a course towards deeper sensations and greater achievements!


Remember, the ocean of possibilities awaits—dive in and explore the depths of your potential with Deep Sensations Freediving. 🌊🔍


Benefits of Visualisation

visualisation, contributes to various aspects of athlete performance enhancement. Specifically, the paper highlights the following benefits:


  1. Improved Motor Skills: Visualisation techniques can improve motor skills, including technical execution in various sports such as basketball, tennis, gymnastics, and others.

  2. Increased Muscle Strength: Mental rehearsal can lead to increased muscle strength, as it enhances the cortical output signal, resulting in a higher level of muscle activation.

  3. Enhanced Self-Confidence: Athletes who engage in visualisation techniques often experience increased self-confidence, reduced tension, and fear, leading to better performance outcomes.

  4. Attention Concentration: Visualisation helps in increasing the focus of attention, enabling athletes to reach their full potential during training and competitions.

  5. Improved Learning Process: Mental practice speeds up the learning process by firing the neurons responsible for skill acquisition, facilitating changes in thinking, and regularising emotional activation.

  6. Pain Management and Endurance: Visualisation techniques can also contribute to pain management, endurance, and performance motivation, thus enhancing physical performance.

  7. Stress Adaptation: Athletes who engage in mental rehearsal become calmer and more adapted to stressful situations, as they are better prepared to handle unexpected scenarios during competitions.


Overall, mental rehearsal, when integrated with guided imagery techniques and practice, allows athletes to design their mental road maps for success by improving various aspects of their performance and psychological well-being.


This is My Personal Mental Roadmap for Static Breathholds in Freediving


Here is my personal mental roadmap for mastering static breathholds in freediving! The night preceding my performance, I create a plan for my static breathhold/ dive and visualise it several times through the night and in the morning.


It's important to visualise all the positive sensations of the dive, and focusing on successful process goals, not objective goals...


In this case, process goals may be:


A good pre-dive stretch, a detailed body scan in the breathe-up, a large and relaxed final breath, successfully executing the mental strategies for each phase of the dive, etc.



Phase 0: Setup

  • Physical preparations - nutrition, rest, sleep, gear, sleep, etc.


Phase 1: Breathe-up & Body Scan

Tools:

  • Tidal Breathing/Ratio Breathing

  • Labelling

  • Body Scans

  • Positive Self-Talk

  • Gratitude

  • Visualisation (First Portion of Dive - Final Breath and Entry)


Phase 2: Relaxation Stage

Tools:

  • Positive Self-Talk

  • Body Scan and Body Awareness

  • Exteroception/External Awareness


Phase 3: Contractions

Tools:

  • Body Scans

  • Blocks

  • Smiling

  • Singing Songs


Phase 4: Second Wind

Tools:

  • Body Scans

  • Smiling

  • Positive Self-Talk


Note: While these are the internal tools I employ, it's important to acknowledge the potential for external support from my buddy, including communication and assistance.


This roadmap allows me to prepare for each stage of the static breathhold and consistently hit my targets.


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