Are You Using Your Breathing To Focus and Relax?

Athletes-Can-Be-in-the-Zone-More-Often-1Breathing Drills

              Here’s some breathing drills to practice. These will help you learn to relax and focus. Find the one that works best for you and add it to your performance routine.

  Learning how to breathe properly is a primary technique for coping with stress. Breathing from the belly moves oxygen from our lungs into the blood stream, relaxing the body and clearing the mind. Take the time to learn to breathe. Deep breathing and relaxation are keys of a great player. Practice your breathing until relaxation becomes attainable, even under extreme pressure.

Directions:

                Follow the different breathing exercises, and find the one you are most comfortable with. Practice your breathing constantly. Write a short paragraph about the exercise you like and its effects on you– Send it in and let me know how this worked for you.

 

Kinesthetic Controlled Breathing

  • Close your eyes.
  • Feel your stomach move out; keep the chest and shoulders steady.
  • Slowly inhale, feeling the increase of air in the chest and a rise of the shoulders.
  • Hold it.
  • Slowly exhale, feeling a release in tension as the shoulders and chest drop and the stomach relaxes.

Audio Controlled Breathing

  • Close your eyes.
  • Hear yourself slowly inhale and exhale air as you breathe.
  • Slowly inhale.
  • Hear the air pass through your mouth and nose.
  • Feel the build-up of tension.
  • Slowly release the air.
  • Hear the sound of air passing through your nose and mouth. 

Three-part Breathing

  • Take a deep breath from your diaphragm.
  • Imagine that your lungs are divided into three parts—upper, middle, and lower.
  • Imagine the lower part of your lungs filling with air. Use only your diaphragm when you breathe—your chest should remain relatively still.
  • Imagine the middle part of your lungs filling with air. As you see this expansion, let your rib cage move forward a bit.
  • Imagine the upper part of your lungs filling with air and your lungs becoming completely full. Let your shoulders rise slightly and move backward.
  • Exhale fully and completely. As you empty the upper part of your lungs, drop your shoulders slightly. See the air leaving the middle part of your lungs, and feel your rib cage contract. Pull your abdomen in to force the last bit of air from the bottom of your lungs.
  • Repeat the above sequence four times.  

Visual Controlled Breathing 

  • Close your eyes.
  • See your body in a comfortable, relaxed position.
  • Inhale slowly, and see your chest fill with air.
  • Hold it momentarily.
  • Exhale slowly, and release air steadily through the mouth and nose.
  • Feel the release of tension/anxiety.

Controlled Breathing – The 5-to-1 Count

  • Say the number 5 to yourself, and take a full, slow breath from your belly as you focus on the number 5.
  • Exhale fully and completely—getting the last bit of air out of the lungs is essential.
  • Count 4 and inhale.
  • Say “I am more relaxed now than I was at number 5” as you exhale. Exhale fully and completely—DO NOT RUSH YOUR THOUGHTS.
  • Count 3 and inhale.
  • Say “I am more relaxed now than I was at number 4” as you exhale fully and completely.
  • Count 2 and inhale.
  • Say “I am more relaxed now than I was at number 3” as you exhale fully and completely.
  • Count 1 and inhale.
  • Say “I am more relaxed now than I was at number 2” as you exhale fully and completely.
  • Point out to your athletes that they should allow themselves to feel the deepening relaxation. As they approach the number 1, athletes should feel calmer and more relaxed.