Visualization is a very powerful tool, used not only in freediving but in many sports. It will help you not only be more efficient, but also reduce anxiety and stress from going deep, from a competition, or from a new personal best. How can one practice visualization correctly? Thibault Guignes, France’s deepest man in Free Immersion explains.
If you visualize a dive beforehand, it will feel like you have already done the dive when you are actually doing it. It will help you not only be more efficient, but also just reduce anxiety and stress from going deep, or from a competition, or from a new personal best. Now, if you have never done meditation or mental preparation or visualization, it's actually not that easy to just sit down and imagine a dive from start to the end, while breathing, and just imagining it you have time usually to think about so many things - your dinner tonight, your girlfriend or your grandma or whatever - and in the end, you never really finish this dive so then it loses the interest and the power that it could give you.
So there is a way to start practicing visualization and I would call it doing dive simulation. So the idea is to add a lot of details that you are actually using during your dive so that it keeps you into the dive. For example, let's imagine I want to visualize a dive in free immersion, I'm gonna wear a nose clip or a mask just like I would during my dive, I'm gonna equalize when I simulate the way down, I'm gonna do the movement as well with my arms, just like in a real dive, I'm gonna time the dive and this way it's gonna help me stay focused on the dive from the start to the end.
So let's imagine, I imagine my breathe up and I do my breathe up while I imagine it, and then when I start the dive I take my last breath and I start holding my breath, just like in a real dive. You can even exhale a little bit while you imagine the first 10 meters to simulate the fact that your lungs are compressing, and also so that you don't feel so full, because during an actual dive you don't feel full like after a full breath. So, accept just a little and then keep holding your breath, and do the movements to go down, equalize each time you need to equalize during a real dive, and then when comes the time for the free-fall just relax and imagine your free fall and keep doing your equalizations. Same when you imagine you arrive at the bottom, you can do the grab of the line, imagine the turn, and then now you can stop equalizing, but you are going to pull all the way up, imagining each pull as you come up. All those details are going to help you stay in the moment and stay focused on the dive.
Now what you want to achieve ultimately is to do visualization while breathing and while being completely relaxed because this way your brain will associate the dive that you visualize to a very relaxed and nice moment. So, to get to this result ultimately, you can remove as you get more comfortable with your simulations some of the details, one by one, you can keep doing the movement and holding your breath but remove the equalization for example, and then you can remove the equalization and the movements, and then you can stop holding your breath during the visualization, little by little until ultimately you manage to do a proper visualization.
A little tip to help for the proper visualization, try to focus a lot when you imagine the sensorial details. This is something that will help you be focused. For example, what I imagine in free immersion is really the feeling of the rope on my hands, as I pull on the rope. In constant weight with the bifins, for example, I really try to imagine the feeling of my kick against the water, everything which is sensorial is a big help for visualization and will really keep your mind on the dive.