phil depth

We All Start As Newbies

Last weekend, I had a mini-uwh camp with my personal coach. There were few things I realized that weekend. I think it is something many new (or even experienced) athletes should remember.

phil depth

My first competitive freedive; Constant Weight: 25m.

1. Athletes are not born, they are made.

We all start as newbies in our fields. It will take time and perseverance for someone to master certain things. As the saying goes: Practice makes perfect!

I still remember the first time I had my first underwater hockey game. I was very clumsy and I can’t even touch the puck. Last weekend, they all came back… 5 hockey years and I’m still learning how to flick properly. Coach T’s frustrated remark still echoing: “Slow, fluid movement… don’t compensate by making fast, clumsy moves. Again!!! Do it slowly until you master it!”

Or when I did my first static training: I can barely last a minute holding my breath.

What I realise is  that the more I do those activities and practice the skills, the more I get accustomed to them. It will still be difficult to catch up with those who are decades ahead of me, or those who started it during their teeny-weeny years; but I tell myself “hey, if you really want to be better… stop looking at what others can do, and start looking on how you can improve.”


2. There isn’t an easy way up.

I remember one of my fellow players said “if you want to enjoy underwater hockey, you have to endure training.” Easy training won’t bring you to a higher level game.

It holds true with freediving. If I do not push myself to my limits, if I don’t get myself used to that CO2 build-up in my body… if I allow all clutter in my mind during training, I can’t go anywhere.

Yes, there are talents in the field but they also need to train to stay on top. So, we all have to persevere and work hard to enjoy the sports we like and are passionate about.


3. If you want to be better, make training a habit. 

We’ve all been there: setting new year’s resolution, thinking you’ll do better next time you hit the water. But nothing has changed. I guess what separates good players from the rest is their dedication to improve. They make training part of their lifestyle and they don’t give in to “peer sabotage;” they continue doing their training despite friends trying to tell them it is alright to skip training or staying up late is alright once in a while.

Last weekend, I was so tempted to just laze around… It was Chinese New Year Holiday after all. My coach was kind enough to give me a day of rest but the following day, there was no excuse not to do workout. He told me that a day that I skip training, someone else in the other teams is training… and I’m already losing not just for myself but for my whole team.

I often get questions from family and friends: why do them? They ask me why do I need to tire myself out when I can’t really get anything from it. I almost always answer them: I may not earn from these hobbies but they certainly do something good for me. They encourage a healthy lifestyle for me. Exercise = happy hormones = happy Teddie 🙂


We’ve all been there, we were all newbies once. After less than a decade of underwater hockey and freediving, I know I still have a long way to become a good athlete (or should I say, at least a decent player). But if I really want to achieve something, I should start setting goals and developing good habits.


What are your recollections as a newbie (uwh/ freediving or maybe other sports)? What did you do to improve?