In order to truly enjoy freediving, I have  three proven methods for powerful mental training in freediving.  Mental training is even more important than physical training, at least in my opinion, and in this article, I will share what I regard to be the three parameters of mental training in freediving, namely the psychological, depth, and environment parameters.  

We commonly hear that freediving is 80%, if not more, a mental game.  If psychology is now acknowledged to be a major success parameter in all sports at a high level, what is unique to freediving, is that psychology is involved right from the beginning and in several different aspects of the entire training process.

When you start a more traditional sport, it usually takes a while before you feel the need to work on your mindset in order to keep progressing. Let’s try to understand why it is, that mental training in freediving is quite an integral part of freediving education.  In my opinion, there are three parameters to overcome, to be able to have powerful mental training in freediving.

The psychological parameter is the first thing to overcome in mental training in freediving. This is true for both hobbyists and competitive athletes: you need to let go of the idea of suffocation if you hold your breath for a long time.  In freediving, you voluntarily stop using one of your vital functions: breathing. This part alone involves a lot of psychology.

For most people, it feels scary to do it even on dry land. Without proper education, if you try to hold your breath for a long time, you usually end up with this feeling of suffocating and thinking that if you don’t start breathing again, you are going to die. 

The best way to overcome this psychological parameter is to aid in building the right mindset and self-confidence through technical training in breathing. Freediving is in fact, a safe sport to practice. Each student of freediving will learn, to overcome the psychological parameter, and reach the proper mindset, at their own unique pace.  Of course, this pace is supported by the self-confidence they gain alongside their structured mental training in freediving. 

During training, they will discover that the urge to breathe is not directly connected (at this stage) to the level of oxygen in their body.  Once the related technical training is accomplished, students end up achieving great breath holds from the start.

Once we get past the psychological aspect of the urge to breathe, you can add the depth parameter.

Most of us who freedive experienced, at a more or less the early stage of our freediving practice, this panicky feeling when we suddenly realize how deep we are and anticipate the long way up to the surface. All of this to come out from the dive completely fine. It is also connected to stopping a vital function but this time you do not even decide when you get to start it again. You need to be back to the surface first.

A conservative progression with increasing the depth slowly and only when you feel very comfortable is usually very efficient if you don’t want to experience this feeling. Actually, the more experience you have, the less you should get this feeling as you know your limits better. 

Finally, we can add the environment parameters depending on where you practice. Being in the middle of a vast body of water such as the sea or the ocean can be stressful in and of itself.   Depending on the weather and water conditions when you dive, the luminosity lowers as you go down. 

It can get dark quickly, and visibility gets shorter.  The feeling of not being in control of the environment can lead to additional stress. Just a new environment, even when you go towards better conditions, usually takes a few dives or sessions to get used to it, especially if the setup is alien to you and your buddies are different from the usual. This is what makes it important to go through mental training in freediving.

For this parameter, I recommend overcoming it with visualization of the dive. Imagine watching yourself during every step of the dive, from surface preparation, taking the last breath, then initial dive in, then every block of depth going deeper, until you reach your goal.  Then imagine your ascent, gliding up effortlessly with each stroke, meeting your safety team, and finally resurfacing victoriously.  

These are the main mental training in freediving parameters that you will be the most confronted with when you practice freediving.  It is also interesting to note that our body is already equipped for quite a few challenges underwater. That’s why if you get past these psychological parameters, you can progress very fast in freediving, whichever your level of fitness (of course up to a certain point).  

My proven powerful methods for mental training to overcome these include mastering the technicalities of breathing before the dive, having a conservative approach to increasing the depth you dive, and visualizing and planning each step of your dive.

Now if you are training with the objective of optimal performance, you need to add all the psychological parameters linked to the performance that you would find in other sports as well. Motivation, self-confidence, objectives setting, being in the moment, letting go of limiting thoughts, stress management, etc., are some of the qualities you get to exercise and develop, whether you are looking for personal improvement or if you are planning to compete.

Of course, past a certain point, if you want to perform optimally, you cannot neglect the physical preparation. Even if freediving is 80% a mental game, you will find yourself naturally wanting to, and therefore improving in a more disciplined manner, your physical being.  Everything is easier when you practice mental training in freediving because you become flexible and fit and your equalization is working.  

The body listens to the mind, and this is a beautiful fact to remember in order to fully enjoy and even get into the flow-state in freediving. Make sure you go through mental training in freediving to achieve this at all times. 

Freediving is definitely special because you decide what it is for you – an experience, a sport, or a lifestyle that keeps you as the best version of yourself.



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