EA 18: How To Hold Your Breath For 8 Minutes & Eliminate Fear To Improve Performance

Today, I speak to Ant Williams a highly experienced keynote speaker and psychologist who has worked with athletes from Olympians to motocross riders. While working with athletes who were involved in dangerous sports, Ant realized that in order to help them he really needed to understand what it was like to compete in a dangerous sport, so he took up freediving.

Ant found the importance that the mental state plays in athletic performance fascinating as he studied sports psychology. He started studying in the late 90s and started traveling with a Rugby team that needed some help with team dynamics. Ant was one of the early sports psychologists. He helps athletes with a wide range of issues from fear to performance blocks. In this episode, he shares insights from the psychological aspects of working with top athletes and some of his freediving adventures.

Today’s Topics Include:

  • How Ant became involved in sports psychology.
  • The method that Ant uses is really a matter of discovery as he teaches a range of subjects to athletes.
  • How Ant became compelled to understand how extreme athletes could be so calm before competing.
  • Ant wanted a dangerous sport to connect with these athletes.
  • Freediving is a sport that depends on mental state and dealing with the fear. The fear of suffocation and the pitch black darkness of the deep ocean.
  • When Ant started he could hold his breath for 2 minutes, now he can hold it for 8 minutes.
  • Freediving requires a lot of training and practice.
  • How Ant freaked out during his first dive in the ocean.
  • The pressure on your body when diving and how to equalize.
  • By 50 meters all of the air is out of your lungs. To get past that point requires technique and dealing with your body feeling like it is being crushed.
  • How it is amazing with what the body can withstand.
  • How freediving is very safe if you follow all of the rules.
  • When Ant was 30 feet underwater in Hawaii and there was a tiger shark circling
  • Learning autonomous self-control and how to stay calm when things go wrong.
  • The isolation of the darkness especially if the dive is spooking the diver.
  • Training for freediving and swimming on one breath.
  • Training includes power lifting and full-body muscle groups along with functional techniques including the dolphin swim and sprints.
  • The sprints have made his anaerobic oxygen system better, but he has to find the right balance.
  • Ant shares his biggest technical block and equalizing air.
  • How Ant is able to drop his heart rate in preparation to dive.
  • Diaphramic breathing and breathing from your stomach.
  • How challenges come to our beliefs and how we manage them.
  • The best athletes have the conviction that they can cope with whatever happens.
  • How Ant is now getting involved in ice diving.

Links and Resources:


“I still find sport’s psychology one of the most fascinating jobs on the planet.” Ant Williams

“It’s about finding tiny fears that are blocking performance and starting to remove those.” Ant Williams

“What compelled me to want to work with them was seeing how relaxed they were before going out and doing something dangerous.” Ant Williams

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