Frenzel Technique for Freediving – Your Ultimate Guide 2023

16. Frenzel Technique for Freediving1
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Did you know that there is a special way to equalise your ears when freediving? Frenzel Equalization is what it is known as, and it can significantly alter how at ease you feel underwater.

In this article, we’ll explain what Frenzel Equalisation is and how to do it properly. We’ll also go over a few advantages of employing this method.

What is Frenzel Equalisation?

For those completely new to freediving or scuba diving, equalisation – also known as ‘ear clearing’ – is basically an exercise where a person uses a particular method to equalise the air pressure within the middle ear and outside the ear itself. Think of when your ears sometimes ‘pop’ while yawning or swallowing, or as you ascend a steep hill in a car at relatively high speed – this is equalisation taking place, either by the physical act of the yawn or automatically as your ears ‘equalise’ while travelling up that hill. Certain procedures, like the Frenzel, are made to use various parts of your mouth and throat to allow air to enter your ear’s Eustachian tubes and equalize the pressure there.

People may experience a variety of problems with equalization when freediving. Here are some of the most common:

  • Failure to equalize frequently enough – You must frequently equalize the pressure because it doubles in the first 10 meters below the surface. I advise you to keep your elbow tucked into your body for streamlining and a hand on your nose at all times. Pre-equalize once before you leave the surface and once more after the duck dive, when you pull your arms close to your body.
  • Equalizing too late – Avoid any equivalence at all costs. If you experience severe pressure or pain in your ears, it may be too late to equalize and you will be unable to do so. Always anticipate any changes in pressure.
  • Keeping your head raised – Tuck your head in. If you can see where you are going, then your head is raised. Your Eustachian tubes will experience less pressure if you tuck your head in, which also makes equalizing much simpler.
  • Equalizing only one ear – Make sure both ears are equalized. When you have a good ear and a bad ear, you may only equalize one but believe that you have equalized both. When you finally sink down, sudden, excruciating pain becomes apparent. When starting to freedive, use the rope to pull down slowly. By pulling down you can stop your descent and take time to check that both ears have equalized correctly. You can also try moving your jaw forward and to each side. If you struggle equalizing your right ear, move your jaw forward and to the left to help open up the Eustachian tube on the right side, and to the right to open the left side.
  • Do not strain – Make an effective but gentle equalization. When equalizing, you shouldn’t exert too much pressure because doing so can overpressurize your ears and, in severe cases, blow them outward. It can also cause reverse block by causing congestion in the tissues surrounding your Eustachian tubes.
  • Unable to equalize – Stop and return to the surface if you are unable to equalize. You should take every precaution to keep your ears from getting hurt.
  • Cannot equalize head first – Learning how to equalize can be greatly aided by pulling down the line with your feet first. If it’s simple, start descending at an angle and gradually move to vertical.

Benefits of the Frenzel Technique

The Frenzel Technique significantly improves a freediver’s capacity to descend further, and the ability to equalize underwater adds to your feeling of security and comfort while underwater. It can often be the difference between being a good diver and a great one, and while the technique is pretty simple in terms of what you have to do, mastering it can be tricky for many people. Practice makes all the difference in learning the Frenzel, and those who master it while submerged find that their dives quickly advance to a whole new, deeper level.

Additionally, it is evident that the Frenzel equalization technique is more appealing than the Valsalva equalization technique, especially for freedivers who frequently need to descend quickly, because it is a more controlled technique and doesn’t use the diaphragm. In the end, it is safer because it is much more focused, effective, and safer (the higher pressure produced by the Valsalva technique can actually cause damage to your ears).

Performing the Frenzel

We’ve learned about the physiological side of things, now it’s time to learn how to perform the actual technique. Essentially, you will be aiming to force the air flow through the Eustachian tubes and into the middle ear, thereby ‘equalising’ the air pressure within. The only difference is that you won’t use your diaphragm and tummy muscles to “push” air up and out of your lungs; instead, this is entirely done using the tongue, epiglottis, and soft palate. It is very similar to the method you would use to stop hiccups or, as previously mentioned, ensure your ears don’t hurt during a plane’s descent. Take a few deep breaths before you start, and try to relax. The first few times you practice, try doing it in front of a mirror and without any air in your lungs so you can make sure you are not sucking any air up. Remember to start with a half-pinch on the nose if you are on dry land.

  1. Gently pinch your nose closed (or half-closed if you are not submerged)
  2. Close the epiglottis – if done correctly you should not be able to breathe out air through your open mouth
  3. Close your mouth and place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth
  4. Push the back of your tongue upwards to the roof of your mouth, as if you are making a hard ‘g’ or ‘k’ sound – you will feel the back of the tongue touch the roof
  5. Relax your soft palate so it is open, allowing air to travel up into the nasal cavity
  6. Shift the back of the tongue upwards, pushing into the airspace – you should see or feel the tendons and trachea in your neck stand out as you do this (for men it is easier to see due to the Adam’s apple)
  7. You should now be able to force the air through the Eustachian tubes and into the middle ears, equalising them

The Frenzel Technique

Eric Fattah originally wrote the “Frenzel Fattah Equalizing Document” – one of the most comprehensive learning documents available – to explain the Frenzel’s methods for equilibrating significantly below residual lung volume (80m+).

It’s estimated that since its publication, his guide to Frenzel and mouth-fill equalizing has helped over ten thousand people.

We’ve included it in its entirety below as per the original document’s specifications. You can download a copy for your own use as well.

Part 1: Physiology

  • The Trachea is the name of the opening into the lungs. The epiglottis has the ability to open and close it.
  • Esophagus refers to the opening into the stomach. Although it can be opened or closed, it is always shut except when swallowing.
  • The soft palate can control how air enters or leaves the lungs. The neutral position of the soft palate (as depicted above) allows air to freely pass through the nose and mouth.
  • Raised soft palates block the nasal passages, forcing air to enter the mouth only.
  • If the soft palate is lowered, the mouth is closed off, and air can flow only through the nose.
  • Located in the nasal cavity are the eustachian tube openings. The key to equalizing the ears is to force air into the eustachian tubes.

Part 2: The Frenzel Technique in Action

The tongue acts as a piston; by thrusting the tongue back and up, the entire volume of the throat airspace is crushed. You need a place for the air to go. It tries to enter the lungs, but it can’t because the epiglottis is shut. It tries to enter the stomach, but the esophagus is closed. It tries to leave through the nose, but the fingers block the nose. The eustachian tubes are the only accessible location. Only the power of the tongue can impose a limit on the pressure of air forced into the eustachian tubes. The tongue has tremendous power. The eardrums can be ruptured by the air pressure the tongue can produce.

To perform the frenzel technique:

  1. Pinch your nose.
  2. Put a little air in your mouth to expand it.
  3. Close the epiglottis.
  4. Move the soft palate to the neutral position.
  5. The back of your throat can be reached by using the tongue as a piston to force air there.

Sadly, the majority of people are unaware of how to control their soft palate or epiglottis, nor do they understand how to use their tongues as pistons. This document’s goal is to explain in detail how to learn each of the aforementioned steps. Success is assured as long as each individual step is mastered.

The individual steps which must be learned can be broken down as follows:

  1. Learn to fill the mouth up with air
  2. Learn to control the epiglottis
  3. Learn to control the soft palate
  4. Learn to apply the ‘tongue block’
  5. Learn to use the tongue as a piston
  6. Learn to control the epiglottis and soft palate independently
  7. Put it all together
  8. Test it in the water
  9. Learn the advanced variations

Step 1: Learn to Fill the Mouth Up With Air

Inflate your cheeks like a balloon and hold the air there for a short period of time.

Push the air back into your lungs by using your cheeks.

Once you can do it on command, practice it several times.

To do a ‘complete cheek fill’, fill your cheeks until they are bursting.

To do a ‘moderate cheek fill’, fill your cheeks until they just start to bulge.

When I say, “Fill your mouth up with a little bit of air,” I mean to give your cheeks a moderate fill.’

Step 2: Learn to Control the Epiglottis

There are many ways to learn to control the epiglottis:

Method 1: Gargling water or mouthwash

  1. Take a sip of water
  2. Tilt your head back, but do not allow the water to flow down your throat. Do not ingest the water.
  3. Your epiglottis is closed, preventing the water from entering your throat.

Method 2: Exhaling and stopping the air

  1. Keep your mouth open and wide open.
  2. Keep your breath in while exhaling.
  3. In other words, ‘close your throat’ and exhale against your closed throat
  4. No air comes out because you have closed the epiglottis

Method 3: Inhaling and stopping the air

  1. Open your mouth, and keep it wide open.
  2. Inhale, but don’t allow any air to enter your lungs
  3. In other words, ‘close your throat’ and inhale against your closed throat
  4. No air enters your lungs because you have closed the epiglottis

Method 4: Epiglottis music

  1. Exhale against your throat closing, just as in method 2. Keep exerting pressure.
  2. Allow air to enter for a brief moment, then shut it off once more. It should make a hilarious choked noise.
  3. As quickly as you can, let the air out, stop it, let the air out, stop it.
  4. The epiglottis is the muscle you are in control of.

Method 5: Epiglottis music on an inhale

As in method 4, but inhale, stop the air, let it pass, stop it, let it pass.

When you have mastered the epiglottis, keep practicing methods 4 and 5.

16. Frenzel Technique for Freediving2

Step 3: Learn to Control the Soft Palate

  1. Close your mouth
  2. Inhale through your nose
  3. Exhale through your nose
  4. Inhale through your nose
  5. Open your mouth
  6. Exhale through ONLY your nose; NO AIR should come out of your mouth
  7. Inhale through ONLY your nose, NO AIR should flow into your mouth
  8. Keep breathing through your nose only, while keeping your mouth open
  9. Now, breathe through JUST your mouth, without any air flowing through your nose
  10. Moving on to the next step will require you to confirm that you can breathe through either your nose or mouth while keeping your mouth open.
  11. Inhale deeply
  12. Open your mouth wide, and keep it wide open
  13. Start breathing out SLOWLY through your MOUTH ONLY.
  14. Still exhaling, keeping your mouth WIDE OPEN, exhale through your NOSE ONLY
  15. Switch again as you continue to exhale, making sure to use your MOUTH ONLY.
  16. Continue slowly exhaling while alternating as quickly as you can between your nose and mouth.
  17. Try the same thing when inhaling – keep the mouth wide open, switch back and forth rapidly between inhaling through the mouth and nose
  18. You’ll feel a soft, fleshy object moving at the upper back of your throat as you alternate between the two positions. Exactly that is a soft palate. To only breathe through your nose, you must lower your soft palate while raising it when you use your mouth to breathe.
  19. Repeat the aforementioned exercises until you can “raise” or “lower” the soft palate on command.
  20. The soft palate is in a neutral position (neither up nor down) when you exhale through BOTH your mouth and your nose.

Step 4: Learn to Apply the ‘tongue Block’

Now you must learn to stop air flow with your tongue only

  1. Begin exhaling through your mouth
  2. Stop the air flow by closing your mouth (your cheeks should fill momentarily)
  3. Inhale again, and begin exhaling again
  4. The epiglottis is closed to stop the airflow.
  5. So you already know there are two ways to stop air from escaping your mouth: either you can close your mouth or your epiglottis.
  6. You now need to learn a third technique to stop the air from leaving your mouth.
  7. Say the letter “th” as in the word “theatre” while taking a slow, deep breath through your mouth.’
  8. Now, while maintaining this position, touch the back of your front teeth, where the roof of your mouth is, with the tip of your tongue.
  9. Make a seal with your tongue to try and stop the air from passing it. The tip of your tongue touches the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth; the sides of your tongue touch the roof of your mouth just inside your molars.
  10. Keep repeating the above steps until you can stop air from flowing out of your mouth by using your tongue.
  11. Verify that you are not lying by closing your mouth or your epiglottis. It can be done with the jaw closed completely or just far enough so that your front teeth (upper and lower) touch each other. Your lips should stay OPEN.
  12. Once you have mastered stopping the air with your tongue, remember what you do with your tongue—remember the position of the tongue—that is called the ‘tongue block.’

Step 5: Learn to Use the Tongue as a Piston

  1. If you do not already know how to pack your lungs, refer to Appendix ‘A’
  2. Continue to the next step once you can easily and unconsciously fill your lungs.
  3. Find a snorkel
  4. Put the snorkel in your mouth
  5. Pinch your nose
  6. Pack your lungs through the snorkel
  7. You cannot pack by using your cheeks; it won’t work. Your tongue must be used.
  8. To put it another way, inhale air through your snorkel, then use the “tongue block” and raise your tongue backward to force the air back into your throat and lungs.
  9. By your molars on the roof of your mouth, your tongue’s sides should touch your gums as you do this. Your tongue’s tip rests against your mouth’s roof. All of your teeth will be in the outer “air chamber” once you have made a “seal” with your tongue, and all of the air behind your tongue will be in the “rear air chamber.” It is impossible to exhale with your tongue in this place. Air is restricted by the tongue.
  10. You have mastered “using the tongue as a piston” once you can pack through your snorkel using your tongue as described.’ You are now aware of the tongue technique for inhaling air.

Step 6: Learn to Control the Epiglottis and Soft Palate Independently

In the same way that your ears are coupled, the epiglottis and soft palate are regrettably “coupled.” Moving one ear while the other stays put is challenging. Moving just one eyebrow can be challenging. You’ve successfully “uncoupled” those two muscles if you can only move one eyebrow at a time. These two muscles can each be controlled on their own. The epiglottis and soft palate are coupled. The soft palate is almost certainly raised when the epiglottis closes, which stops airflow through the nose. It is a challenge to learn to close the epiglottis while maintaining the neutral position of the soft palate in order to perform the frenzel technique. The most challenging aspect of the entire technique, this can be time-consuming and challenging to learn.

  1. You can very gently plug your nose by placing your thumb and index finger below your nostrils.
  2. It should be possible to exhale through your nose—your nostrils should flare.
  3. Fill up your cheeks completely, to the point of bursting.
  4. Close the epiglottis.
  5. Make an effort to squeeze your cheeks and blow air out of your nose.
  6. Your index and thumb should feel the air move over them, and your nostrils should start to flare.
  7. If the air disappears and your nostrils don’t flare, the air went back into your lungs—you must not have closed the epiglottis
  8. When your soft palate is raised, which is blocking your nasal passage, the air cannot escape and is simply JAMMED. Redo the soft palate exercises to gain a feeling of that muscle.
  9. Keep the soft palate in the neutral position as you go over the steps above again. The soft palate can only be in the neutral position if you want to squeeze your cheeks and blow air out of your nose.
  10. If you still cannot master the above exercise, try the following:
  11. Once again, pinch your nose gently.
  12. 90% of your air intake should be exhaled through your mouth.
  13. Exhale through your mouth while filling your cheeks to the brim with the last 10% of your air.
  14. Close the epiglottis.
  15. Right now, your cheeks ought to be full and your lungs ought to be completely empty. Your epiglottis is closed, so there should be no air in your mouth.
  16. Inhale now while keeping your throat closed. Naturally, since the epiglottis is closed, no air will suddenly rush into your lungs. Instead, you create an uncomfortable vacuum in your lungs.
  17. Continue to maintain the lung vacuum. In order to push the air in your cheeks out of your nose, try to squeeze your cheeks. Concentrate on the soft palate. Maintain its neutral position by relaxing it. If you succeed, the air will come rushing out of your nose. Do not allow a rush of air to enter your lungs.
  18. Practice the aforementioned exercises until you can squeeze your cheeks, close your epiglottis, fill your cheeks, and expel air from your nose. The epiglottis closes and the soft palate is in the neutral position when you do that. You must keep in mind that muscle state.

Packing your lungs through your nose is an additional technique for mastering independent control of the epiglottis and soft palate. In other words, work on developing the ability to breathe deeply while keeping your mouth shut. You must “suck” air in through your nose.

Step 7: Put It All Together

  1. Plug your nose.
  2. Just a tiny bit, swell your cheeks.
  3. The epiglottis should be closed, and as you just learned, the soft palate should remain neutral.
  4. Apply the tongue block, and, force the air to the back of your throat as if packing through a snorkel. Instead of flowing into the nasal passages, where it would be able to enter the lungs, the air would be forced into the eustachian tubes, which would “pop” your ears because your nose would be blocked.

After your ears have popped, you can keep pressing on your eardrums with your tongue to bend them outward. In fact, if you pressed hard enough with your tongue (again, don’t try to break your eardrums! ), you should feel as if you could break your own eardrums (outward).)

When you can instantly pop your ears by squeezing your nose shut and “pop,” you have mastered the frenzel technique.

Step 8: Test It in the Water

  1. Go to a swimming pool which is at least 10 feet deep.
  2. Flip over and descend 10–12 feet without equalizing. It ought to hurt a little in the ears.
  3. Put a nose plug in now, and EQUALISE! You should be able to instantly pop your ears.
  4. When your ears start to swell outward, keep pressing with your tongue.
  5. Try the same thing in a lake or ocean.

Why Do We Need to Equalise When Freediving?

The pressure rises as you go deeper into the water. If you don’t equalise, this can cause pain in your ears – like when you go on a plane. Freediving is much more comfortable thanks to equalization, which relieves this pressure.

When freediving, it is crucial to equalize because failing to do so will result in pain in your ears from the pressure differential, which could eventually cause damage.

Benefits of Using the Frenzel Equalisation Technique

The Frenzel equalisation technique can provide a number of benefits for freedivers, including:

  • Improved air distribution throughout the body, which can lead to increased gas reserves and a longer dive time
  • Reduced risk of decompression sickness
  • Improved ability to equalise the ears and sinuses, leading to less pain and discomfort during and after a dive
  • Greater control over the descent rate, allowing for a smoother transition into freefall

Overall, freediving can be made safer and more enjoyable with the help of the Frenzel equalization technique. It can help to make diving safer and more comfortable by having the capacity to provide larger air reserves and improved ear protection.

Frenzel Vs Valsalva Technique

The Frenzel and Valsalva methods are the two main techniques covered in an introductory course. The valsalva should be completely ignored. This technique will stop working eventually and is exhausting to use which goes against the whole point when it comes to relaxation. You are only working against pressure when you perform the valsalva, which forces air into our middle ear by using the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. Compared to the glottis and middle ear, the distance between the lungs and middle ear is significantly greater. Last but not least, these muscles are larger than the delicate muscles required for the Frenzel technique.

All the airspaces (aside from the lungs) and doors that must be moved in order to create pressure and direct air into the middle ear are depicted in the diagram above.

Common Problems When Learning Frenzel

A few issues prevent people from learning how to frenzel. Those who are unable to frenzel are employing the ineffective valsalva method. We never want to freedive while performing this. Let’s go through them

  • Unable to close the gottis – Since the glottis cannot actually be felt closing, you must focus your attention on what you are doing. The glottis is open if pressure can be applied but the chest or stomach are moving.
  • Not enough air in the oral cavity – more often than not, the tongue is in the incorrect position. This results in a very small airspace inside the oral cavity, which makes it more difficult to compress. The easier it will be to equalize the pressure inside the oral cavity, the more air we have there.
  • Over thinking – Online videos abound, which further complicates the situation. ‘Glottis closure, lock creation, maintaining the neutral position of the soft pallet, etc. The truth is that there are less difficult ways to accomplish tasks. Through speech and everyday interactions, we are already familiar with the movement.
  • Unable to move the tongue properly – Because of the differences in how each of us is built, some tasks can occasionally be challenging. Making sure you work with someone who can guide you and help you get started is important because learning new things takes time.

Dry Equalisation Skills

No matter your skill level, don’t expect to pick up how to equalize in the water. To improve muscle awareness and motor control when using the Frenzel technique, dry practice is crucial. The stress of holding your breath underwater is removed when you practice them on dry land, which will help you learn the skills as quickly as possible.

We can learn these skills using different types of EQ tools and each tool has its own purpose. Consider starting your equalization training with the smallest amount of stress possible and escalating the challenge as you go. This is precisely how you ought to employ these resources.

Common Problems in the Water

There is no question that once you master frenzeling on land, issues arise in the water as well. Let’s go over them.

Inability to shift air – The oral cavity is one of the smaller air spaces as a freediver descends! Don’t forget that it is more difficult to equalize the air inside the oral cavity the less there is of it, as we mentioned above. As we dive, we must remember to drop the tongue to shift air from the lungs to the oral cavity!
Cannot equalise upside down – There are a few causes for this. First off, being upside down can occasionally cause us to become disoriented to the point where we lose focus if we are not sufficiently relaxed. This tension can also cause the soft palate to close in the throat. Secondly, because air travel from a high pressure to a low pressure, there is a downward force acting on the glottis.
Inability to relax – Make sure to go slowly. Never rush any step of the process, and before you dive, make sure you’re completely at ease. emotionally and physically. Any number of issues can arise from tension.
Body position – Several things may be impacted by this. The tongue may occupy a large amount of space in the oral cavity for some people if their head is tucked in too far. If you are experiencing this issue, it is actually acceptable to tilt your head slightly, but not too much as this could cause additional issues. about which we will now speak. Our lungs and ribcage start to constrict as we descend. We have to help them compress by being relaxed and in a tucked in position. If we try to pull the rib cage apart by opening up, air will be harder to shift and so will equalising.


Remember that freediving is a physical activity that requires training and effort to improve and keep safe – it isn’t just something ‘natural’ that you were born knowing how to do. With hard work, passion, and dedication, you can overcome any obstacle you encounter on your journey to become a better (and safer) freediver.

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