• Kate Allgood

How to use breathing techniques to reach peak performance

Enhance your performance through breathing

Our breathe is a powerful tool. Besides the fact that it keeps us alive, it can be used to our advantage to reach peak performance in sports. It can be used as an anchor the present moment, it can be used to calm us down, amp us up, and to increase our focus. No matter what you need to get into a higher level of performance breathing can usually be a great resource to have. In this post I am focusing on 2 breathing techniques to help calm us down and one to help us with focus. No matter what you use breathing for, one thing to keep in mind is to practice, practice and practice. I have spoken to many athletes who have tried to use breathing to help but say it doesn’t work. This is because they only use it when they absolutely need it. They haven’t spent any time practicing it or using it in less stressful times. Just like any skill set if you haven’t practiced it, you won’t be very good at it in critical moments.

1.Diaphragmatic breathing: This is great to calm down, especially after a competition if you are having trouble falling asleep. How you do it. You can sit or lie down, placing your hands on you abdomen. With this breathing technique it is about trying to bring the air deep into your abdomen as you breath in. You want to breath in through your nose and out through you mouth and try and make your exhale last twice as long as your inhale. So if it takes you 3 seconds to breath in, make your exhale last for 6 seconds. Try and do this for 4-6 mins, at the very least try for 12 breaths. This has been shown to help shift us from a parasympathetic nervous system, which is our fight or flight response to our parasympathetic nervous system which is the opposite.

2. Box breathing: Also good for calming down, maybe before an event. In this breathing technique you breath in for 4 seconds, hold breath for 4 seconds, breath out for 4 seconds, and hold for 4 seconds. Repeat. Also trying to do this for 4-6 mins. This one you don’t need to worry about if you breath in through your nose or mouth.

3. Heart centered breathing: This one is good for focus. With this one you want to find a nice rhythm of approximately 5 seconds on the inhale and 5 on the exhale. You want both to be equal. With this one when you are breathing try to focus on your heart as you breath. This will help with creating what is called heart coherence, which is when the brain and heart sync up and you are more focused and increase the chance of being in the zone.

Give them a try and see how it goes. There is no right or wrong technique, it is about finding a technique that works best for you.