Change Your Breathing for a Better Performance | STACK

Meaghan McCarthy
- Meaghan McCarthy works with athletes of all ages, sports and skill levels as the owner and head mental performance consultant of M3 Sport Psych in...

Change Your Breathing for a Better Performance

July 9, 2012

Swim Breath

Did you know that you could improve your athletic performance with just a couple of breaths? Yes, there is more magic to your respiratory system than just keeping you alive. Not only does breathing help you relax, it also allows you to refocus, suppresses negative thoughts and makes you feel more confident. To reap these rewards, you need to learn how to take control of this involuntary reflex through this applied sport psychology method.

Next time you are feeling physically and mentally drained, try circle breathing:

Circle Breathing

1. Begin by inhaling through your nose for three seconds
2. Hold your breath for two seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for four seconds.
3. Repeat a couple of times.

Feel the difference in your body? To show how it relaxes you physically, take a long inhale through your nose and hold it, noting how your muscles tense. Now slowly exhale through your mouth. Your body should physically relax when you exhale. Make sure to count your breaths, because it directs your thoughts to something neutral so you mentally relax.

When negative or distracting thoughts plague your mind, count out a couple of circle breaths until you are able to refocus on positive and productive thoughts.

When athletes have a poor game or performance, they sometimes lose a sense of control. Circle breathing is a basic element of performance that you can control. Incorporating this applied sport psychology exercise into your pre-game routine can provide a boost of confidence. For example, a gymnast can take a circle breath right before making a challenging beam dismount, or a golfer can use one right before a critical putt.

When you first start, it may take several attempts to feel the benefits. But the more you practice, the more effective circle breathing will become. Applied sport psychology is about enhancing your performance. We all have to perform on a daily basis, whether on the field, in the classroom or on the job. So everyone has plenty of opportunities to practice circle breathing!

Photo credit: Athletesheart.com 

Meaghan McCarthy
- Meaghan McCarthy works with athletes of all ages, sports and skill levels as the owner and head mental performance consultant of M3 Sport Psych in...