Surviving Hold-Downs (From World’s Best Big Wave Surfers)

Surviving Hold-Downs (From World’s Best Big Wave Surfers)

Top tip on how to handle hold-downs? Get comfortable with being VERY uncomfortable.

Hold-downs, poundings or being pinned – regardless of your terminology – refers to being held under a wave for a lengthy period of time, typically when taking a tumble from a top turn, or being caught on the inside as a set marches over you.

It calls for a calm complexion in juxtaposition to the panic that naturally occurs when one is flailing and floundering, thrashing helplessly whilst submerged under the ocean. Yet, how does one remain calm when the natural response is to frantically fight for air?

We turned to the top female big wave surfers in the world to ask them their advice. Quadruple the size of a typical surf session, and you’ll be close to what these ladies paddle into (they’re often out in 20ft to 70ft waves).

Paige Alms

Paige Alms

2016 Women’s Pe’ahi Challenge Champion, Paige Alms notes:

Preparation is key in big wave surfing, physically and mentally. All of my training is what helps me remain calm under pressure. Staying calm in uncomfortable situations.

Maya Gaberia

Maya surf

Maya nearly died in 80ft surf at Nazaré, Portugal back in 2013. She says:

It’s important to train for it, with apnea and free-diving courses. There are great breathing techniques in those sports that can help us survive hold downs.

Bianca Valenti

Bianca small

Bianca: “to survive hold downs, one must prepare mentally and physically. Mental preparation begins with getting comfortable with being uncomfortable (very uncomfortable!) in a constantly changing life threatening environment.

One must create a mind of psychological safety – whatever that might look like for that individual – to enable the body to conserve as much energy as possible and maintain a sense of calmness and relaxation in the midst of absolute chaos.

Physical training strengthens the mental. It involves intense breath work, interval training, lung stretching, rib cage flexibility – the list goes on.

It’s so cool there are really an infinite number of possibilities in training styles.

I enjoy playing around and incorporating breath work as much as possible in every activity I do every day to keep things diverse, interesting, challenging to be always improving my hold down fitness.”

With the combination of mental and physical training, one can (eventually) learn to get comfortable in heavy water. It’s good to know that one can prepare for mortal-sized wave hold-downs – although we’ll probably leave those big wave hefty hold-downs to the experts for now.

big wav

You might also like...