Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spearfishing and Expanding Your Comfort Zones Part 1

On SAspearoranings Euro Africa forum thread I posted the following:
I agree with you on that Jeremy. But we need to be able to srcatch in caves in 1-3 m viz as well as in clear water.
Some of the Spaniard divers reccommended checking the ceilings of the caves too - I remember that from diving the shoveler crayfish in the Azores - they sat on the ceiling - actually one would need to enter the caves upside down or roll over in the caves. Recently I was diving in frigid water -11-14 deg - well, frigid for us in PE.
I a five hour dive I shot no fish in the open - only successes came from the caves.
So that could be good practice for our team members - dive in those conditions which we would normally avoid as we like to be warm and comfortable.
I give advise like this but I must admit that I also like to be comfortable - the 12 degree surge that opens and enters you suit if not fun while you hang on for deal life as trying to spear a small fish with your short gun in 2 m viz, with the thought of raggies or a possible white lurking very close in your mind.
So I think it's good to make it difficult for yourself - especially in preparation for a comp. Go when it’s windy, cold dirty, and a big swell. Get out your torch or buy one.
Trevor Hutton amused me with his advice to one who may be suffering cold or the need to breathe - "Fake It". Faking for long enough seems to bring about the reality - at worst you may just laugh at yourself, and when that happens you suffer less anyway. (Actually I am laughing now thinking back on a time when I was on a boat here in Algoa Bay bouncing against a strong North wind. I was suffering at great length and even more when considering we had 8 km to go. Then a little something about the skipper's face that kindled a small spot of laughter - he was determined to bust them waves - a minute later I was laughing so much and the skipper looked at me as I was mad and that send me into a paraletic state of laughter - the rest of the trip was a pleasure. He! he! I am now well amused just thinking back.)

Later in the week I will put up a post on my blog - call it "ways to expand your comfort zone".

I gave the topic some though and came up with too much for one post so this one will have a follow-up:

So, how can I make myself more uncomfortable to prepare myself for a tough competition?
Firstly – I make a list of what could happen to make it difficult. Starting with uncontrollable factors in the environment.
Environment : Wind, waves, dirty water, current, cold, spooky fish, heat, sunburn, rain or fog(obscures landmarks), sharks, blue bottles.

Others: Interference from other divers, being jumped, psyched out, boat noise, reports of seeing hoards of fish, intimidative chirping.

Read the ART or WAR by Sun Tsu – I recommend it for my mentorship students and even supply a download link.
In summary it requires that you know yourself, your enemy(competitors) and terrain(including conditions - how would the Germans have fared against the Russians if Hitler anticipated their fighting in the frigid Russian winter? Probably not have lost 300 thousand soldiers)

So first you must be able to handle conditions – fortunately the competitiors are all “in the same boat” everyone dives the same area in the same conditions – so there is no excuse. You can only blame your inability to handle the conditions, and NOT THE CONDITIONS. This lets you be responsible for your own success or failure. Burn the excuse bridge – take full responsibility for failure.
The right mindset, in my opinion, is "I did not...... because I did /did not ....."
See what I mean, this enforces continuous improvement – what the Japanese call kaizen. Continuous and never ending improvement. IF you blame conditions and leave it at that then you are inferior to the condition - it is your master. But, if you say you were responsible a corrective mindset kicks in and you ask how can I overcome the condition and with persistence and adjustment it can eb overcome.
It may not be easy and some trial and error is uatomatically lined up - a failure becomes a learning experience or an experiment.

Even if you normally turn around and go home when the wind reaches 15 knots – next time you are out, if you decide to dive on despite the 15 knots wind you are improving – expanding the comfort zone – so maybe you go home when it gets to 18 knots - that still an improvement. If you normally do not dive cause the viz is down to 8 m instead of 10 m then you may change the criterion for a "go home viz". If sharks are an issue get a shark pod - test it in clean water though - losing a leg may bee too expensive a form of trial and error.
I find that my comfort zones are flexible and I get fit for cold and dirty water then get slack when it been clean and I suffer for a short while when the viz bombs out and I adapt to the shock of reduced viz or temperature or even supreme surge - but pretty soon I am happy as a lark in vrot water.

Shoot with your shorter gun – make it a bit more difficult than aiming and pointing with the Bismarck’s 15 in guns. I am presently looking to leave my 1.2 and 1.1 guns at home – burning the bridge – I will learn to be a better spearo than I am. A while back I took a nice white steenbras while diving with my 1 m gun in clean water - three fish were hovering in the distance and I pulled the best of my moves to get them in and did it to my very best knowing I was disadvantaged with the shorter gun - those steebras came in to me as if U was holding food out for a hungry dog and I got the best fish I the shoal but more importantly I boosted my confidence with the shorter gun.
I saw a video where JB Esclapez took wahoo with his 1 m gun - it took quite a few tries before he managed despite the other diver whacking then with their wooden guns and 8 mm spears. He had to get real close and I am sure he walked off confident and the other divers were well- impressed. After all is a former world champion.
What did he do - he expanded his comfort zone by making the hunt more difficult.

I guess as an alternative one could make a point of drawing the fish closer and not allowing long shots by one’s own judgement – again making it a bit more difficult and forcing up your skill level.

I once read a story of an army landing on the beaches near Turkey to fight the badies who outnumbered them 3:1 – the admiral ordered that all boats be burned – Officers requested that he repeat the order, no doubt ensuring their ears were clear of obstructions. The act forced his men to up their game in the approaching battle as there was no retreat any longer. As you may imagine the outcome was in their favour.

I am sure you get what I mean here.

Expand your comfort zone/s by:
Dive in non-fair weather conditions – even at home – make it a habit – eventually you will develop the balls to cope in the wind and may find the odd strong wind or gale just a bit exhilirating. You may even need to get a boat that copes with fresh to strong winds.
Also do the same with waves, dirty water, current, cold, heat etc. I just as that you reduce risks where possible – I mean don’t rush out in huge surf, flip the boat and kill yourself. Do it on an upward gradient - slightly expanding your comfort zone/s where risks are higher.

Also try diving your general area but leave the GPS at home and find only new spots on that day – refuse to dive the normal productive areas. Choose a small area and get to know it inside out and upside down.

Often we divers are so keen to get in the water (especially if very competitive) that we miss a lot that can be determined from the boat – I used to always be first into the water in my earlier years but have since begun taking the time for at least a mini dry scout using the sounder or at least doing spot dives to test conditions before making a descision where to go. Mark Jackson and Gyula were talking of the Spaniard who dry scouted for as much as a few hours before even putting on his suit to get a big meru. There is certainly merit in that but then you need to know your sounder and its responses very, very well.
For us boys in the Cape who dive dirty water, sound is also useful in locating the best spots of a reef – the presence of and intensity of the cracking of reef or wrecks – this is like a blind scout and it is possible to decide on which direction to swim to the good reef by careful listening to this crackling. I often have a good little listen to a spot before diving instead of rushing down to the seafloor - the little listen helps with positioning.

Thats enough for now - I will compose another post or two to address some other factors that I would focus on should I prep myself for a competition.

For now why not think up other areas in which you can expand your comfort zone with respect to spearfishing to make your performance better.

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