May I start with a question “how does a gardener keep his garden free of weeds?” (answer at the bottom).
Breathing is normally an unconscious function and becomes a conscious function when we specifically think about breathing when we’re doing something i.e. meditating, swimming, yoga or playing golf. The inhalation and exhalation of air allows the oxygen and carbon dioxide to traverse to and from the external environment into and out of the blood system.
So how can our breathing patterns help us to play better golf and improve our mental tenacity. Well by breathing effectively and efficiently it increases our energy levels and enables us to stay calm by minimising stress and anxiety. Typically, when we breathe normally our intake of air is only a fraction of what our lung capacity can take, thus not fuelling our blood supply to that miraculous thing – the body and the brain. Thus, oxygen and carbon dioxide starvation could over time impact our health.
When was the last time you fully filled your lungs with a deep breath – try it now and feel how different it is to your normal shallow breathing pattern. Remember to always inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth!
There are four specific breathing techniques MyGolfMind would like to share with you today that will greatly improve your energy levels when you need them and to keep you calm on the putting green and as you come down the stretch in contention. After all golf is a game of patience – staying calm and focussed and waiting for the other golfers to make mistakes. That’s a strategy that help Jack Nicholas to his 18 major victories – so if its good enough for Jack then it should be good enough for you! And remember you only have influence on your game not your opponents!
- Ha Breathing: is a technique used by the ancient indigenous tribes of Hawaii – the Huna and Ha means the ‘breath of life’. If you practice and use this method as you travel to the course, then you will begin to expand your lungs and get the blood flowing around your body and brain giving you the breath of life or energy.
Start by taking a deep breath and as you exhale chant the sound of ‘Haaaa’ until you empty your lungs. Do this for at least seven times in the beginning and then build it up for five to ten minutes if not more.
- 5:20:10: I got this technique when I attended a Tony Robbins’ “Unleash the Power Within” seminar many years ago and its one I practice virtually every single day as part of my morning stretching exercises regime.
Simply take a deep breath and fill your lungs in five seconds. Then hold for 20 seconds and then exhale slowly for ten seconds ensuring that you fully empty your lungs. Repeat for at least three times and build up to ten repetitions. Once again do this breathing exercise when you feel that additional energy is needed, ok
- 4:4:4: this is a technique that is used by the military when in the heat of conflict to be able to stay calm and composed when using their fighting and self-defence skills. During these heightened and emotional times, military personnel need to be emotionless and focused on the task that they find themselves in.
Simply inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds and exhale for four seconds. Repeat the sequence at least ten times and whenever you need to be calm and focussed i.e. when faced with a sliding downhill putt to win the money!
- Counting Breathes: this breathing technique simply count ONE as you inhale and ONE when you exhale; and count TWO as you inhale and Two when you exhale all the way up to TEN. You may want to repeat this sequence two or three times. The same reasons apply as the 4:4:4.
So, give these breathing techniques a go as they will enable you to stay patient throughout a round of golf and to manage your emotional state. By becoming an expert at breathing correctly your mental toughness improves, and you too will have nerves of steel, just like Tiger Woods!
So “how does a gardener keep his garden free of weeds” – “little and often”! So, practice these techniques regularly and I guarantee that your mental tenacity will improve and make your overall golf stronger.
Hopefully, you're beginning to find MyGolfMind blog posts of interest and have started getting you thinking about the importance of the mind game? So why not share them with your golfing mates, ok.
Do call MyGolfMind on 07973 614969, fill out the contact form to send me an email if you have any questions or even disagree with what I've said, ok?
PS ... I deliver a two-hour 'spring clean your mind; spring clean your game' seminar if you or your golf club are interested! Get in touch ...