A skill that has immediate athletic enhancement is breathing. Deep breathing.
Taking a deep breath, has shown benefit time and again to athletes and performers looking to enhance their game. All athletes breathe, the question is, are you getting the most out of your breathing?
Some athletes are shallow breathers during competition. This type of breathing can build stress and tension throughout the body, while depriving muscles of energy. A lack of energy in sport can often inhibit performance. Luckily, there is a way to combat this issue: a purposeful deep breath. Here are a couple of reasons why you may want to integrate deep breathing into your next performance:
1: Deep breathing facilitates performance by increasing oxygen in your blood. Greater amounts of oxygen in the blood stream, yields greater amounts of energy for muscles on the field, court, or sport arena.
2: Deep breathing slows your heart rate, calming your physical and mental state, while reducing anxiety, tension, and nerves. The reduction of anxiety and stress allows you to have more confidence and greater concentration toward athletic tasks.
Breathing although seemingly simple, is a complex and powerful tool. It brings the richest, most vital source of energy to our bodies, while simultaneously relaxing it. If you are looking for an energy boost with a relaxing effect, start breathing. Deep breathing.
Remember that like any physical skill, mental skills need to be practiced and given a fair test of time. Try the following at practice, in class, or wherever you have a moment.
1. Lay down on your back or stand in a comfortable position.
2. Take a deep breath.
3. Put one hand on your abdomen and the other on your upper chest. If you are taking a complete deep breath from the diaphragm, the hand on your abdomen will move out with the inhalation and in with the exhalation, while the hand on the chest remains relatively still.
4. Think of your belly as a breathing apparatus not your upper chest.
5. See your stomach rising and falling against the rest of your body.
6. Take multiple deep breaths and feel the energy entering your body, and ultimately relaxing you.
7. Repeat breathing exercises for several deep breaths or for several minute increments. (If breathing correctly this can relax you in 5-10 breaths)
8. Repeat breathing exercises when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed in a game setting or when you need momentary relaxation.
Some examples of when you can use deep breathing in sport are:
- Before heading onto the field/court
- Before/after killing a penalty
- After a stressful game
- While talking to your coach
- While sitting on the bench
- Try it Now!