Breathing and Baseball Performance
“Clear the Mechanism”
Controlling breathing and anxiety during competition could be much more important than just staying focused. It could actually impact the way you perceive the game and perform. The last thing that a hitter needs is decreased efficiency of the cns (the master board that controls all muscle control and timing). They are already being challenged to react in milliseconds, then deliver a clean, accurate, and powerful swing path to meet a baseball that’s changing planes.
Personally, a lot of the adaptation process to the “next level” of division 1 baseball from high school, was learning how to “slow the game down” again.
When the game gets faster (faster players, more velocity, better bat speed), it’s your natural response as a player to tighten up. Part of that involves rapid breathing. I’ve had so many players, coaches, and kids mention to me at some point that the pro’s look like they aren’t even trying. There’s an element of smoothness and swagger that’s tough to imitate, and it comes from a whole lot of God-given talent, yes, but also from being able to manage their emotions, thoughts, and movements, in order to apply the work they’ve put into their craft. Baseball involves speed. Quick decisions, and even faster reflexes often define the good vs. the great, and often the difference can be attributed to who is the better master over themselves. Sports like gymnastics are no different. No Olympic athlete skimps out on preparation, so the great divider is often who can maintain their composure, and master their mental approach (which is the category that breathing can attribute to) to perform exactly as they have practiced.
Looking back on my career, I can honestly say that moments when I was at my best, there was a moment of calm, where I was completely aware and locked into the moment. Some call it tunnel vision. But for each of those moments later in my career, I can also remember my first year fighting for a spot on the team, where I was overwhelmed and intimidated (for the first time in my baseball career). This is part of the reason why underclassmen often struggle making that leap. The game speeds up, and psychologically and physiologically, it can be tough for them to reign it all back in to something manageable. Sometimes the beginning step to slowing it all down could be learning to manage faulty breathing patterns.
Taking a deep Breath may mean more to your performance than you think.
And a link to end with…
Owner Pathology Apparel
Chaitow L. Breathing pattern disorders, motor control, and low back pain. Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 2004;7(1):33-40.