6 Tips To Increase Bottom Time
Here are some actionable tips to increase your bottom time. Don’t try to implement everything at once, focus on one or possibly two tips at a time. Get each technique dialed in before moving on. If you have some tips of your own, share them in the comments below.
Before you even get to your dive spot, do some full breathe-ups to stretch your lungs and prepare your body for diving. On the surface, close your eyes and concentrate on releasing all muscle tension. Hold your gun lightly in your hand and breathe slow, deep and even. If you can, go with the current and use the boat to put you on the right spot.
Plan your drops – if you are diving in current then get dropped off just that little bit further up current so that you have more time to prepare and get relaxed. A good buddy on the surface who’s got your back will also help you to relax more (for more on spearfishing buddy protocol and benefits check out Turbos post here).
While you are taking your last 3-4 slow full breaths, pre-equalize. This will give you a chance to complete your duck-dive without having to reach up and equalize immediately. And remember when equalizing, early and often is the golden rule and doing it like this will help you to be more relaxed when you hit bottom.
3. Duckdive Super Smooth
Think hot knife through butter – be smooth. Here is a good video showing a sweet duck-dive.
One way to make this actionable is to make it a specific focus for your next dive day. Don’t try to improve everything at once, just nail your duck dive – it will make a huge difference.
Water is more viscous than air so hydrodynamics play a huge part in increasing your bottom time.
Make sure you get your head position right
Tuck your head in slightly towards your chest. This will help to minimize drag and increase glide efficiency. This position also positions your airways for easy equalization.
Also don’t look up on your way down, delay it until you are close to the bottom (especially when diving deeper). Freedive training in a swimming pool can help you to learn these techniques without the added distractions of open-ocean spearfishing. For more information about freedive training for spearfishing, check out this post from Wayne Judge.
Minimize your profile while equalizing
Wings in on the way down, lock your elbows into your body to minimize drag. Some divers have a blessed ‘hands free’ equalizing ability which saves them this trouble but if you’re like me then keeping those arms in as close as possible while you equalize is the best technique. Maintain early and often equalizing practices because big forced equalization efforts are worse for clearance and oxygen consumption.
5. Gun tuck
Picture a soldier with a rifle beside their body – this is the way to maintain minimal profile in the water. Reduce your profile as much as possible, anything sticking out is energy and therefore oxygen wasted. Keep your knees straight when kicking, this will minimize your profile and its also the most efficient finning technique.
6. On the Bottom
Use your eyes and reduce head movement
Use your eyes to scan the surrounds and turn your head less. This not only saves oxygen but spooks less fish! Relax your body and make sure you are right on the bottom before you start hunting (hovering just off the bottom keeps fish wary).
Maneuver on the bottom using smaller muscles
Research the Aspettos spearfishing hunting technique and you will learn about spearo’s using smaller muscle groups to maneuver around on the bottom. This helps them to conserve energy and oxygen which extends their bottom time! For application; once you are on the bottom use one hand to grasp a rock. From this position with one hand you can pull yourself forwards or turn in place. Focus on minimizing movement and you will quickly see the benefits to your breath-hold.
Embrace meditation techniques
Turbo regularly warms up with the lotus position, scarlet dragon and other renown Yoga positions including his own custom pose “the gas release”. He insists that this is what helps him to maintain 10-15 seconds on the bottom while in incredible depths of 20 feet. Epic Turbo, thanks for the tip…. While I’m not sure about Yoga I do rate meditation highly. My reasoning for this is that your brain is a huge consumer of oxygen. Learning to maintain a ‘soft’ focus and how to stay in the moment can ensure you are making efficient use of your mental faculties. Surely this can help to give you some extra time on the bottom. While this is not strictly one of the tips to increase bottom time, meditation has lots of scientific evidence proving that it provides significant benefits. If you want to learn more about meditation (and see if it works) try the HeadSpace 10 day challenge here.
Next Steps For The Advanced Diver
For those of you who are serious about improving your breath hold while learning more about your body we recommend that you check out the 5 Minute Freediver here. Its a 30 day dry training program that combines the use of CO2 and O2 tables to extend your dry breath hold to 5 minutes. Pete Ryder, a UK based freediving teacher has put together this effective video course to help people extend their breath hold while learning from the comfort and safety of dry land. Get started for free here and if you purchase the training program use the code NOOBSPEARO to save 20%.
Next Steps For The Brand New Spearo
Pete Ryder has also put together a fundamentals course called the 10 Meter Freediver. As the title suggests the goal is to give you the information you need to freedive to 10 meters on a single breath. You will learn equalizing, relaxation, the full breath, basic physiology, how your body deals with pressure, effective finning technique, streamlining and more. The 10 Meter Freediver is an easily accessible (and affordable) resource for those wanting to learn the basics of freediving before committing to a full Stage A Freediving Course. To get started for free and explore some of the Video training go here. If you think the training is right for you, use the code NOOBSPEARO to save 20% when you decide to purchase.
To learn more about these two courses and freediving for spearfishing listen to this episode of the Noob Spearo Podcast
I hope these 6 tips to increase bottom time will help you to slowly extend your breath-hold. However, getting longer bottom time is not a simple magic bullet. There is no one thing, one time fix all solution. Its slowly making small improvements over time and you will gradually begin to increase your time on the bottom. Remember, its not a race! Enjoy your spearfishing and slow down.