Combat Breathing Technique

Combat Breathing Technique For More Relaxed Golf Under Pressure

When you’re feeling nervous from fear of losing, fear of not playing well, fearing of hitting a bad shot or fear of embarrassment etc., you probably notice certain changes in your body and mind which inhibits your ability to play your normal game.

The reason is that your body is in what’s called the stress or “fight or flight” response. The hormone adrenaline is secreted by the adrenal glands which results in:

  • Increased muscle tension
  • Increased blood and energy in the muscles (shaking)
  • Loss of cognitive function (poor thinking and decision making)

This is obviously not conducive to playing your best golf!

To reduce the effects of the stress response and the additional adrenaline in your system, we need to steady the ship and tell our brains that everything is OK. The best way to do this is by using powerful breathing techniques for golf.

“When I learned how to breathe, I learned how to win.” – Tom Watson

The Combat Breathing Technique

The “Combat breathing technique” (also known as the “box breathing technique”) is used by the Armed forces and Emergency Response personnel to deal with the effects of increased adrenaline in combat and emergency situations. It’s very simple and here’s how to do it.

  1. Inhale to the count of 4 (through your nose)
  2. Hold your breath for a count of 4
  3. Exhale for a count 4 (through your mouth)
  4. Hold your breath for a count of 4
  5. Repeat over and over again

Many successful public speakers, athletes, theater actors etc, will use powerful breathing techniques such as this to reduce the shakes, lower tension and regain control of thinking and ensure a good performance.

Next time you’re in a tournament or you feel nervous on the golf course, try the combat breathing technique along with good body language and you’ll see the stress and nervousness melt away.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Gonterman/Released

Learn more about the Mental Game Scorecard

David MacKenzie

is a mental golf coach and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind, a teaching program designed to help golfers condition their minds to overcome fear and play with confidence.

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