We take 24,000 breaths every day. According to Dana Santas, a mind-body coach who has worked closely with dozens of professional athletes and teams over the years (the Tampa Bay Rays), most of us are not taking these breaths optimally. Correct breathing, she says, is the key to countless issues of body and mind, from back pain and migraines to achieving peak performance. “Breathing is a superpower. It’s not always the answer, but it’s always the place to start.”
In the midst of the current global pandemic things around the world and the game are rapidly changing. These are difficult times for people and for the game.
Because we are faced with this “New Normal” (I hate saying that!) that requires us to make major adjustments in the way we act on and off the field. We enviable are going to come across some conflict in our minds and bodies.
The game, historically has always be hard enough. When we face difficult or adverse situations on the field, each of us possess a sort of inner protective mechanism called the flight-or-or flight response. Think of an angry barking dog that has heard a noise out in the backyard at night, or a scared cat that’s backed into corner and threaten by something unfamiliar.
The fight-or-flight response, physically makes our bodies change. I am talking an increase in blood pressure, our rate of breathing changes, our muscles blood flow, metabolism, and heart rate, all change. Situations that demand that we adjust our behavior elicit this response.
Big league players, minor leaguers, college, high school players, it happens to all of us. No one is immune.
A lot people coin this reaction as “choking,” but believe me it’s a normal human reaction, and physiological response to a perceived psychological threat, but simply our breathing pattern changes. Without realizing it, many hold their breath.
Each of us possesses a natural and innate protective mechanism against “overstress,” which allows us to turn off harmful bodily effects, to counter the effects of the fight-or-flight response, our breathing!
On the field, in the batter’s box and more importantly in these crazy time we can’t forget to breathe!
Oxygen is energy—it’s juice. Oxygen helps relax muscles and clear the mind. When you hold your breath, you are creating pressure and a nervous feeling. Players who “choke” start to become nervous about being nervous. Anxious about being anxious. One psychologist says anxiety is excitement “without the breath.”
At the end of the day the quality of your breathing or your breath patterns are going to dictate how you perform. When you feel like you are in a high leverage situation, you should have a fall back routine that triggers some deep breathing, we call this a quick “check-in.” You just want to find a way to reset and get back into the “moment or process.”
I often say, “thoughts become things” and when things spiral out of control and we start focusing on negative outcomes we need to not forget about your opponent and the task at hand.
Don’t forget your Superpowers, BREATHE!