Brydens Lawyers NSW coach Brad Fittler has quickly built a reputation for getting players outside their comfort zone but he took that to a whole other level this weekend.
Fittler brought in breath enhancement specialist Nam Baldwin to run a pool session for his squad during a State of Origin camp in Armidale on Saturday.
Nam helps athletes deal with emotional and stress control and management through breathing techniques and has worked with former world surfing champions Mick Fanning and Steph Gilmore, and former Australian tennis champion Pat Rafter.
With a crowd of locals watching on from behind the fence at the Monckton Aquatic Centre, Nam put the players through a number of drills including one where they were forced to exhale all of their breath before wrestling each under water.
After overcoming the initial shock of the situation which is designed to test how the body responds to panic, players were able to build up their resistance as they held on for a minute below the surface.
“There’s just some techniques that he’s got and I didn’t realise the records he holds being able to hold his breath underwater for about eight minutes,” Fittler told NSWRL.com.au.
“The big thing that came out of it was you’ve just got to get rid of doubt out of your mind. That’s the key to a lot of stuff that we do, just get rid of doubt, stop doubting and just get on with it.
“It was awesome for the players and it was good for me. I noticed in a couple of the drills straight away that it’s the mindset that makes you panic, it’s nothing else. It’s not the oxygen, it’s the mindset around having no oxygen.
“You can actually hang around there for a while and at one stage we were a minute without oxygen underwater. We’d do an exercise we couldn’t hold our breath for 20 seconds where you’d breathe out and hold your nose and see how long you’d go without gasping.”
As for which Blue came out in the top of the wrestling drills, where everyone had to exhale before pinning their opponent on the pool floor, Fittler couldn’t help but comment (his partner was NSW Origin high performance coach Hayden Knowles).
“I smashed the record,” Fittler said, laughing. “I bashed him, yeah?”