Learning to equalise is one of the core skills a freediver needs to master in order to maximise performance, comfort and enjoyment of freediving.
Every person is different in terms of their physical make-up. Some people find learning to equalise easy, not even needing to pinch their nose. Others may find it a real struggle. Emma (along with some of her instructors) took around a year to finally master the technique.
“…When I first started freediving I was limited immediately by my inability to equalize the pressure in my ears. I could just about equalize to a depth of a few meters if I hauled myself down feet first, but if I tried to equalize head first then nothing happened. This was incredibly frustrating, compounded by those around me who told me that I would never be able to equalize because there was ‘something wrong’ with my ears.
It took almost a year for me to learn how to equalize headfirst and for my body to adapt to being in water and upside down. I always tell students that if I can learn equalization for freediving, then anyone can, and I have never met anyone who cannot learn to equalize for freediving, given enough time and perseverance…”
Why is learning to equalise so important?
Our body contains air spaces. When we descend in water, the air spaces inside our body get smaller due to pressure. If we do not add air into these spaces to compensate – equalizing the pressure within them and bringing them to the same volume we have at the surface – then injury will occur. The most common first indication that you have not equalised correctly or sufficiently is ear pain.
“…Learning to equalise has been quite an eye opener, especially the talk from David Kent. it has given me so much more understanding of that side of freediving and will help me to go deeper. I have got a lot to practice!…”
Which method of learning to equalise is best for freediving?
There are a number of different ways to equalise, but the most efficient for freediving is the Frenzel technique which was designed to use different parts of your mouth and throat to cause air to enter the Eustachian tubes of the ear and equalise the pressure. This differs to the valsalva technique because it is a more controlled method and doesn’t use the diaphragm. It is much more targeted and effective and ultimately safer (you can actually damage your ears due to the higher pressure that is created via the Valsalva technique).
“…I have always struggled with learning to equalise but being on this course has sorted that and I have learned a lot about equalising and techniques that I can practise to make it easier. Having David Kent to teach us the Frenzel was really helpful….”
How does Go Freediving teach students to equalise?
During the classroom sessions of the course, we demonstrate and work with students to practice the technique before they attempt to equalise in the water. We also discuss different equalisation aids that can help when they are learning to equalise at home.
We also place great importance on planning for every equalisation, and my instructors and I advise our students to make sure they pre-empt any attempt to equalise as early as possible.
To reduce the stress on your eardrums it is vital that you equalise early and even before you need to. We frequently ‘prequalise’ – a description invented by Jorgen, one of my Go Freediving instructors – when on dry land too. This method allows for the ear to be slightly over-pressurised pre-duck dive and means any delay in the second equalisation at four to five metres is offset by the ear already having been pre-equalised.
In our RAID freediver course this week, we were delighted to be joined by David Kent – British no-fins freediving champion – who ran an exclusive Masterclass on the Frenzel technique for our students and club members.
“…Learning to equalise on the course has been very helpful and useful for the future. It was a cool experience learning to equalise with David Kent because he is a British freediving champion, he is like a celebrity!…”
What tips can we offer anyone learning to equalise?
If you are a freediver or enjoy snorkelling or scuba diving and want to dive deeper in comfort and safety, there are a number of things you can do to promote more efficient equalisation. These range from attending a course, to exploring diet and lifestyle, through to using equalisation aids to practice with at home. You can find more information about this in our equalisation tips article.
Check Out Our Latest Freediving Course Students
(and returning students)
Class 8th – 9th June 2019
RAID Freediver Course
Date: 8 – 9 June 2019
Location: Vobster Inland Dive Centre
Water temperature: 15.8 degrees
Weather: Sun and cloud, 14 degrees
Visibility: Excellent (15m+)
Instructors: Emma , Zoe, Jorgen, Tom
Students: Brooke, Stuart, Michael, George, Robin, Sabeeh, Giles, Patrick and Sarah
Returning Students: Carol and Suzi
Want to know what this weekend’s students thought of their course with us? Read on!
I wanted to do a freediving course because I want to become a better and more qualified freediver. My dad got me into freediving by telling me to see how long I could hold my breath and teaching me cool things in the pool. I researched it and decided I wanted to try it out.
Doing the course has helped me to discover that I can do things that I didn’t think I could – like hold my breath for 2 minutes and dive down to 8 metres! Learning to equalise on the course has been very helpful and useful for the future. It was a cool experience learning to equalise with David Kent because he is a British freediving champion, he is like a celebrity!
Being so young I thought I was going to be like the black sheep but everyone has been so nice and understanding – the atmosphere has been great. Three benefits of doing the course with Go Freediving are the nice people, extremely good teachers and a great location.
I would definitely recommend the course. I have told all my friends about it and they think it is ace. Tomorrow I am going to tell them about it at school and hopefully some of them will come and do the course.
I have always followed Emma and Go Freediving on their website, Instagram and Facebook and was referred to this course by a scuba diving instructor. I have discovered it is not as easy as I thought. I have always struggled with learning to equalise but being on this course has sorted that and I have learned a lot about equalising and techniques that I can practise to make it easier. Having David Kent to teach us the Frenzel was really helpful.
Learning to do things properly has been one of the highlights for me and it has made everything easier. The amount of information was great and helped me reach depths that I haven’t before. I even made it to the plane which made it worth it!
The benefits of doing this course are that it helps with scuba diving, you feel more relaxed underwater, and I prefer freediving to scuba diving now! I definitely want to improve and come back and do another course.
I definitely recommend learning to freedive with Go Freediving because there is just so much information and I loved the course.
I wanted to do a freediving course because I think it is really cool and it will help with my stunt person training. I chose Go Freediving because I know Emma and prefer doing things with people that I know. I learned that you can hold your breath longer than you think you can and you don’t really need that much energy to go anywhere underwater.
I found equalising much easier than I thought I would. Learning to equalise, I now know that there are different ways to do it which is helpful. I have just enjoyed being underwater. You go under and when you come up and hear how deep you went you just don’t believe how deep you have been!
This course will help me with my career and what I want to do in my life, and it is very relaxing.
You don’t have to think much about what is going on above and outside the water, you are just in the water and in your zone. You just let go of every single care and worry. The course and the dietary advice has helped with my sinuses which feel so much better, and made learning to equalise much easier.
I would definitely recommend the course for people that are really stressed or have trouble breathing because the diet would really help them with that. It just helps you relax.
I came on the Try Freediving course and managed to hold my breath for over 3 minutes and it just blew me away so I decided to come on this course. I chose Go Freediving because they were the only freediving school I could find on the web and social media.
I have discovered that I am more adventurous that I thought I was and I really want to do this and make it work. The experience of learning to equalise, even though I had a few problems, was a really good feeling. I was given individual attention which was really good and never felt rushed or like I had done something wrong. The instructors really care and it was very helpful having David Kent help us with the Frenzel as well.
The course was really fun and you feel like part of a group. It is very laid back and a pleasurable weekend.
The benefits of learning to freedive with Go Freediving is that you are learning to freedive safely, the location is really good and it is a very professional organisation. I would definitely recommend the course for the personalised experience – you are very well looked after on the course and it is a pleasurable experience.
I grew up on the coast of Australia spearfishing and I have dived my whole life. I trained as a commercial diver in the early 90’s and I felt I could do better. So doing this course with Go Freediving is about honing my skills. I found the Bath freediving club and had read Emma’s book a few years ago and decided that this is my year to do it.
Doing the course early in the year means I get to really enjoy it for the rest of the season. I have learned how to do the things that I was doing more efficiently now. I want to become more aware of my breathing and the exercises have been really good. I want to see how deep I can get with all the gear.
Learning to equalise has been quite an eye opener, especially the talk from David Kent. it has given me so much more understanding of that side of freediving and will help me to go deeper. I have got a lot to practice!
Diving with such a great bunch of people has been really good fun and doing deep repetitive dives and feeling comfortable doing them have been the highlight of the weekend for me.
Three benefits of doing this course with Go Freediving are honing techniques, the instructors and crew are great and the weekend has been brilliant. I would without a doubt recommend the course and I think it is beneficial for everyone. The mental benefits, realising that you can do more than you thought you could would be good for everyone.
I enjoy swimming and swimming in the ocean on holiday, and I really wanted to learn more and how to get better and to do it properly. I was checking online and Go Freediving’s website was clear and legible, and easy for me to read which is why I chose them.
Doing this course has helped me to discover how calm and relaxing it is underwater, it is really nice to just feel at peace down there.
I had a basic understanding of equalisation but it is quite different when you are actually learning to equalise in practice. David Kent helped a lot with the frenzel and it was helpful having someone demonstrate it for you.
I just liked the whole freedom of being able to dive as much as you wanted to.
The benefits of the course are that you learn to relax and having good quality instructors with a 1 to 3 ratio was amazing! I would definitely recommend this course to help people understand that water is not as scary as some people think it is and that it is actually a peaceful and relaxing place to be.
I have done martial arts and mountain climbing and Stuart has done scuba diving and said he was looking into freediving and wanted a buddy to do the course with him so I decided to join him. He had received a few recommendations to do the course with Go Freediving which is why we chose them.
I have discovered that freediving is harder than I thought it would be and it has been really interesting. Learning to equalise has been really good and actually doing it was different to what I expected.
The highlight for me was how deep I could go. I didn’t think it was possible for me to do it.
The benefits of doing this course with Go Freediving are that there is no pressure and it is relaxed – which is as it should be. It is friendly and very enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this course because it is a good starting point for me to progress from.
I film a lot underwater, particularly with whales and dolphins and want to be a better underwater cameraman. Learning to freedive will help me with that. Everyone in Bristol at the Natural History Unitrecommended Emma and Go Freediving.
I have discovered that I had a lot of bad habits and I now have the techniques to go and practice to get better at freediving. Today was awesome – the way the instructors were giving me critique and showing me what I was doing wrong and how I could improve on it to help me go deeper was great!
The benefits of doing the course with Go Freediving is that you get a certification, you get great instruction with one instructor to three students, and the small, well chosen groups help you learn more. I would recommend the course for anyone who wants to get started in freediving.
Freediving Courses With Go Freediving
Go Freediving is the longest established, most experienced and friendliest freediving course provider in the UK, led by world class freediving instructor trainer Emma Farrell, and her team of personally trained instructors. No other course provider has such a good instructor to student ratio, safety record and personal touch.
Whether you’re a beginner dipping your toes into the world of freediving, a seasoned pro looking to turn professional, or simply a freediver of any level who wants the best freediving holiday in the world, we’re here for you!
Also check out our online guide, The Beginners Guide to Freediving by clicking here!
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