A golf swing is a complex move that involves more than just hitting the ball in the air. It is quite important that you understand how your whole body acts and how it should be positioned during a proper swing motion. We are not only talking about the hands, arms, and back, but also about your diaphragm and lungs.
Believe it or not, proper breathing can play an immense role in maximizing the power and speed of your golf swing. The problem is that most golf players, including professionals, forget to focus on inhaling and exhaling before, during, and after the swing.
Additionally, sitting for most of the day causes rounded shoulders and tightness in your hips, which contributes to bad posture. In the long term, this leads to more tension in the body, and, as you probably know, stiffness will not help you have a smooth, powerful golf swing.
There are a couple of ways that proper breathing techniques can affect your golf performance. First and foremost, the relieved tension will allow you to invest less effort into properly hitting the ball. Along with this, focusing on properly inhaling and exhaling will improve oxygen flow and improve both muscle and brain function.
Last but not least, you will be able to put away the stress and fear of losing by staying present in the moment through mindful breathing exercises. Bearing this in mind, we have prepared a couple of tips on how to breathe during the swing. Let’s take a look!
The Importance of Breathing in Golf and Daily Life
Before we discuss a few effective techniques for golf players, we want to talk about how mindful breathing works and what benefits it offers. You should know that it is the autonomic nervous system that dictates how you breathe. What this means is that, if you don’t control your breathing, it will be affected by how you are currently feeling.
Thus, an anxious mindset, as well as a surge of stress, will lead to shallow breathing and an increased heart rate. It is also quite common for professional golf players to stop breathing throughout their swing. This is completely wrong and is the result of an unpeaceful mind.
The idea is that you inhale and exhale using your abdominal wall or the diaphragm. Only in this way will you be able to breathe in deeply and calm yourself down. Not only will staying connected with your breath allow you to have a better focus on the game, but it also results in other physical improvements.
While golf is not a sport that involves a lot of cardio exercise, it will surely increase your heart rate. Our personal recommendation is that you always stay aware of the beats per minute. Either wear a battery-powered monitor or count the old fashioned way – place your finger on the carotid artery and count for 60 seconds.
It is quite common for the heart rate of an in-game player to go over 100 bpm. The main reason for this is shallow breathing. It directly affects the circulation and your heart function. Thus, by focusing on a proper breathing technique, you will be able to slow down your heart rate and thus relieve tension.
The more you practice, the better you will get at staying aware of your heart rate and breath. You will soon find the technique that suits you the best. Additionally, you should know that properly inhaling and exhaling will also have an impact on the diameter of your arteries and blood vessels.
By increasing the diameter, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of better judgment and improved short-term memory. You will also increase your ability to perform more complex shots without as much effort. The main reason for this is the improved oxygen flow that results in better motor skills and coordination.
Muscles and Nerves
The main issue with the reduced oxygen flow that comes with shallow breathing is the excess calcium that can affect both your muscles and nerves. Calcium is a mineral, so it shouldn’t cause you any harm, right? Well, that is wrong. An abundance of calcium will cause your muscles to be twitchy, and you will probably feel hyperactive.
Taking into consideration that golf is a sport that requires immense calmness, this is certainly not what you want. Additionally, impaired motor skills will affect your ability to control larger muscle groups. Thus, you will need to invest a lot more effort in order to hit the golf ball properly.
This is another reason why practicing different breathing techniques will be extremely beneficial to your overall golf performance. By relieving the tension and preventing excess calcium from getting in touch with your nerves and muscles, you will be able to deal with all those tricky shots.
First and foremost, breathing the correct way is sure to improve your confidence and mood. It is a fact that shallow breathing is a common symptom of anxiety. Also, if your brain is not receiving the optimal amount of oxygen, you are at risk of confusion, light-headedness, and even headaches.
Additionally, it is quite common for golf players that are not aware of their breathing to be indecisive, which is not acceptable when on the golf course. Overthinking your golf swing will lead to improper positioning in most cases.
This is why you should start any golf practice with a couple of deep breathing sessions. Make sure that you stay aware of your inhalation and exhalation, as well as your heart rate throughout the game.
A Common Deep Breathing Exercise
We have discussed the benefits of proper breathing. Now, it is time we introduce you to the techniques that will allow you to improve your golf performance.
The first step is that you either lie down or sit up straight on a yoga mat. Make sure that your dominant arm is at the abdominal wall with the navel being just below it, while your supporting arm is at the chest. The whole idea of this exercise is that you breathe in through the abdomen and watch as your right-hand moves up and down with it.
Your chest and your left-hand shouldn’t have separate movements. You should only feel a slight position change related to the inhaling and exhaling movement of the diaphragm.
Once you take your first deep breath, pause for a couple of seconds and then exhale through your mouth. While this is happening, you should relax your face, chest, arms, and legs. Remember that all body functions are interconnected.
Stay focused and aware of your breathing while finding the inhale/exhale rhythm that suits you. Make sure to practice this technique a couple of times a day.
Combat Breathing Technique
While the aforementioned technique is commonly used by most people, this method has been made popular by the armed forces. It is effective in calming you down in situations when excessive adrenaline is being released through your blood. As for the breathing movement, it is the exact same.
You should start by inhaling through the nose, using nothing but your diaphragm in the process. Hold your breath and count to four. The next step is to slowly exhale through your mouth, once again counting to four. Last but not least, you should hold your breath at the end of each round and hold it for an additional four seconds.
Repeat this method as much as you would like. Our personal recommendation is that you should go for 20 rounds a few times a day. Also, this is not only a breathing technique that is effective when practiced at home, but it can be used at the golf course, as well.
Tom Watson’s Way
As one of the most successful golf professionals that have ever played the game, Tom Watson is an advocate of staying aware of your breath during the swing. His technique was comprised of inhaling and exhaling twice before the swing. Make sure that you let just half the air out on your second exhale and follow through with a smooth swing.
Now, should you be breathing during the backswing or the downswing? The main consensus is that breathing out during the downswing and breathing in on the follow-through is the most effective. Still, we think that finding your own pace and comfort zone when it comes to breathing is the best option.
We did our best to highlight the huge potential that proper breathing can have on your game. It is a fact that staying aware of your breathing, as well as heart rate, will allow you to release tension. It will also help to improve your focus and motor skills.
By practicing the aforementioned tips and techniques a couple of times a day, you will quickly become the master of proper breathing and be able to reap the many benefits! So grab your club, tee up your ball, remember your breathing tips, and enjoy the game!