When the pressure’s on, we need something that can put the brakes on stress and prevent nerves becoming panic (choking) and ruining your round. Learning how to breathe does exactly that. When we feel pressure our breaths get short, so you’re not getting as much oxygen to your brain and muscles. Recognizing this feeling and making sure we counter it with good breathing techniques is key to breaking through into new scoring levels and handling those pressure situations.
Make Breathing Part of Your Pre-shot Routine
- Stand behind the ball just before you’re about to approach it (you’re about to enter the play-box).
- Take a 3 deep breaths, and focus on them. Your attention (thinking) isn’t on what’s happened (the last shot) or what will happen (the consequences of not making this shot), only on what’s happening now, the process of hitting a good golf shot.
When you’re over the ball, you can combine breathing with your “go-trigger” (more on this in a later lesson): Take a deep breath, and let it out; then take another one, let half of it out, hold it, and swing.
Your focus and awareness are solely focused on the present moment, which is exactly where it needs to be to play your best. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, only now. If your mind wanders, bring it back to focusing on your breaths.
While you’re breathing, see the shot over and over again in your mind. Did you see Jason Day at this years Masters? He was closing his eyes, breathing and visualizing before every shot. All the time you’re doing this, you’re reinforcing what your body needs to do to execute it.
How to do it
Try this basic breathing technique when walking between holes:
- Exhale fully, until your stomach pushes against your spine.
- Inhale fresh, clean oxygen which provides new energy and centers the mind and body (2 counts).
- Hold for 2 counts
- Exhale slowly for 4 counts. You can equate this with getting rid of any negative energy.
What to do after a bad shot
When you’ve just hit a shot you’re disappointed with, counter that negative reaction with a “Bounceback 10” breath.
- Inhale slowly through your nose and count to 4
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for 6 seconds. This exercise oxygenates brain to keep you calm and the focus on the counting of your breaths means that you are not focusing on the shot you just hit.
Just taking your mind off the game for that ten seconds is enough to bounce-back and not allow yourself to get affected by it.
How to Practice breathing on the driving range
Try this drills on the range to show the importance of breathing.
- Hit 6 balls focusing on a technical swing thought
- Hit another dozen balls focusing on nothing but your breathing, right up to your take-away
You’ll notice a big difference in the quality of the shots as your swings using the breathing technique will be smooth and tension free.
Thanks for reading! Look out for my next lesson coming shortly!