Sunday, August 7, 2016

Breathing: You Should Practice This More

                                                                                                     (photo credit:

Have you ever seen a movie with an epic plot-twist, and the clues were so subtle that you overlooked them? Think the Usual Suspects. Kaiser Soze.

Have you ever been looking for your keys, but failed to check the most obvious place?

The mental game is a hot topic because it is important, clearly has value, and the depths and understanding of how to best apply continue to grow and shift. It seems that coaches and professionals talk so frequently about their training regimen, their work ethic, their visualization.

How many of them spend time talking about their breathing, and explaining how they practice gaining control of themselves in tense moments?

The human body's response to pressure is an elevated heart rate, priming us for fight or flight. When your body increases the heart rate, our ability to manage thoughts significantly decreases.
It's so important to practice breathing in game-like repetitions as part of our hitters' training.

We teach our hitters deep stomach breathing by speeding them up in practice. On field BP? Each hitter has 10 jump tucks before they execute their on deck routine. Tee work on the side? You have 10 push ups first.

We communicate with them to importance of, and reasons behind, how a deep stomach breath can alter their stress hormone release, and allow them to feel more loose and see the ball bigger.

Intentionally stressing their bodies out by elevating their heart-rate (and doing something they likely wouldn't choose to do), forces them to practice gaining control of their heart-rate, thought process, and re-center their breathing. They learn how to gain control.

Here are some great techniques for breathing, and gaining control of yourself at the plate:


The most effective mechanics are to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Inhale for one second, exhale for two, inhale for three, exhale for four, inhale for five, exhale for six. This exercise is terrific for when you are really stressed and don't physically feel like you can take one deep breath. Often the tightness in our chest when stressed makes us subconsciously not want to take a deep breath. This is a technique that slowly releases the diaphragm.

 Mental Workout (from the book "Organize Tomorrow Today," a great read)

1.) Centering breath: Breathe in for six seconds, hold for two, breathe out for seven.
2.) Identity statement. Say a preconceived personal mantra to yourself that reflects your strength and desire for success.
3.) Personal Highlight reel: Spend 30 seconds visualizing three "done-wells" from the previous 24 hours, and then spend another 30 seconds visualizing three things you want to do well in the upcoming 24 hours.
4.) Repeat your identity statement (same as Step 2)
5.) Centering breath: Take another centering breath to prepare yourself for the upcoming performance. Again, breathe in for six seconds, hold for two, breathe out for seven.

Box Breathing 

(Seal Fit's Mark Devine show you how in this YouTube video. )

Enjoy breathing!

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