How to become a Freediving Coach
The path to becoming a freediving instructor is clear. Finish the recreational freediving courses, attend an instructor course, then you are an instructor.
Many new instructors are made each year, and only a small percentage of them actually start to teach. Those that do start to teach, realise quite quickly that they have not been given all the pieces of the puzzle. There are many subtleties to teaching beginners that a new instructor is totally unprepared for.
If you want to be good at what you do, that path is less clear than the path to get your instructor card.
What does it take to become a Freediving Coach?
I always took my job as an instructor very seriously. If there was ever a situation where I couldn’t help a student to improve, it would haunt me. I would obsess over every detail until I understood how I could help the next person who had a similar issue.
In those days, this was the only way to get better - self learning. In fact, things are not so different today for most instructors.
This process of refinement continues with me even now. If I ever feel like there is nothing left for me to learn or improve, I expect that I would quit coaching freedivers.
So this is how I developed, one realisation at a time.
This style of learning will make you a better instructor, but to be a coach you should have more knowledge and experience than the typical instructor. So how do you begin to acquire this?
Get a coach/Train:
It is possible to be doing many things wrong both physically and mentally, and still achieve the instructor standards.
The process of going deeper successfully is a process of fine tuning, and developing your skills and mind. The deeper you go, the less margin for error you have to make mistakes. So the depths you reach are a sign of your mastery of freediving.
To have a coach makes this learning process much more efficient. Rather than learning from trial and error, you can avoid all of these setbacks by relying on the guidance of your coach. Meaning you reach higher levels of performance and mental control in a shorter period of time.
Undergoing coaching from a professional will also give you inspiration for how you may want to coach your own athletes when the time is right.
Do you need to be a deep diver to be a coach?
A coach is a guide. How can you guide someone to a place that you have never been?
By training yourself and going through the process of getting deeper, you will pick up valuable insights. The type of insights that cannot be discovered without that experience.
I am not saying that a coach can only train divers who are shallower than them. But a large amount of deep diving experience will give you the tools that you need to help your athletes.
Knowing how to help a diver comes from 3 sources of knowledge.
1. Personal experience of diving
2. Experience from coaching other athletes
3. Empathy – using imagination to understand what the athlete is going through and how to help
If you are lacking in one of these areas but excel in another, you will still be able to help most levels of athletes. Although, as part of your own self-development as a coach, it is important to continue to focus on these areas, including your own training.
Knowing and teaching:
Knowing how to freedive is just one part of becoming a coach. Whatever you can do is useless unless you have the ability to communicate how it is done, to teach that skill.
This is why there are many deep divers who are not particularly good coaches.
This interplay between your internal understanding of something, and your ability to help another person to have the same understanding is the most rewarding thing about coaching for me. It’s almost always a process that requires input through all of the four modes of learning: Auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and reading/writing.
The time it takes is dependent on the athlete's ability to absorb information, and my ability to put it across in a way that can be understood. I can’t change how quickly someone else can soak up knowledge, but I can always get better at putting it across in clearer, and more efficient ways.
I remember back in the days, people would say that the best equalisation teachers are people who struggled with equalisation themselves.
This would be true if a coach has not developed the language to help struggling divers. But with correct communication and empathy, a coach can easily help any diver who is experiencing a problem. Even if the coach has not been through this problem personally.
In fact, if you observe the language of instructors who struggle with certain things, they often put their own insecurities/negative associations onto their students.
During every coaching session, I am putting myself into my athletes mind and body, to try and gain the insights needed to help them. The ability to read a person is one of the most important skills for a coach.
It is a mistake to simply project your own journey onto your athlete. Each person has their own history of strengths, weaknesses, and situation – meaning, to look at every diver through the lens of your own subjective experience of freediving will taint your decision making abilities.
Is that it?
It all sounds pretty simple right?...Yes and no.
This process of accumulating knowledge and experience took six years before I defined myself as a coach, and another four years to reach the problem solving abilities I have now.
What may seem like a simple process takes years to accumulate.
Similar to hiring a coach to save time with your own training; I now offer an Advanced Instructor Training programme, in which I spend one month coaching you, and two months guiding you to become a coach.
If you're tired of failing students, or want to make the step to become a coach, check here for more information.