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One Small Change

Game-Day Breathing: Does it Work?

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Q: What is your body’s most powerful source of energy?

a) Glutes
b) Heart
c) Food
d) Sunlight
e) Breath

A: Breath

According to Don Campbell, co-author of Perfect Breathing, the breath is responsible for 90% of our body’s energy. “The simple act of inhaling oxygenates and energizes every one of the trillions of cells in the body,” he explains. “And exhaling accounts for 70% of the waste that the body expels. So it’s a powerful engine.”

Most of you have probably dabbled with different breathing techniques, whether in yoga or Pilates classes, Lamaze, or when imitating Darth Vader (c’mon, admit it). What I’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks is seeing if simple breathing drills can help me take more control of my life and/or perform better in a variety of activities.

I did the first experiment this past weekend. I play for two teams in the Men’s Senior Baseball League. On Sunday, I had games at 9:30 and 4:30. It was the perfect opportunity to test what Campbell and his cohort, Al Lee, call Game-Day Breathing.

The technique is designed for whenever you need to quickly relax and draw your focus down to a specific task. Examples include shooting a free throw, standing over a putt, going for a PR in the bench press, walking to the podium to deliver a speech or, in my case, striding to the plate. Here’s the drill:

  • Close your eyes and draw attention to your breath
  • Inhale through your nose for a count of 2
  • Hold for a count of 1
  • Exhale through your nose for a count of 2
  • Hold for a count of 1
  • Continue breathing this way while visualizing yourself successfully completing the task.
  • Conclude with an affirmation such as “Let’s do it!”

I did this prior to every one of my four at-bats in the morning game, and guess what? I went 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs and was voted our team’s MVP. Although it was difficult to divorce myself from the action of the game to close my eyes and breathe, it was exactly what I needed. By breathing deeply and fully oxygenating my body, my heart quit beating so fast. As a result, I was in less of a panic mode and a more relaxed and positive state of mind. I could let my training and muscle memory take over. And just like that, I got three hits.

Driving to the afternoon game, I was pretty smug. I thought I had finally figured this game out and would soon be hitting .400. But in the second game, we faced a pitcher who had played Triple A ball. And no matter how much I breathed, visualized or affirmed, I struck out not once or even twice, but four consecutive times.

I think the lesson here is this: Game Day Breathing can help you settle yourself enough to realize your potential, but it’s not some miracle that will magically make you rise above it.

Go ahead, give it a try and report back.

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Focus, Relaxation, Energy, Pressure