More necessary than food and water to survive is breathing. It is an all powerful tool that can help regulate stress and keep you calm under pressure. There are numerous ways to breathe and each, when consciously applied, can have different, yet dramatic effects on the body. Breathing allows you to be in the moment, if you can hear and feel yourself breathing then you are in the now.
Try something with me for a second, take a deep breath. How did you take the breath? Did you breathe in your nose or mouth or both? Did you pull the air up into the chest immediately? Or did you use your diaphragm by breathing into your stomach first, or pushing your belly button out to bring in air. Most athletes that have no awareness of their breathing or its effects on the body, will overwork themselves physically and exhaust themselves mentally. When presented with a stressful competitive environment, athletes that are equipped to focus on their breathing have a better chance of staying calm and performing better.
Here is one way to use conscious breathing to slow your mind down and put you into the moment. I will list 4 total breaths, each with how to inhale and exhale. Each inhale should be 2 seconds long and each exhale will be 3 seconds long.
-Inhale through your Nose and Exhale out your Mouth
-Inhale through your Nose and Exhale out your Nose
-Inhale through your Mouth and Exhale out your Mouth
-Inhale through your Mouth and Exhale out your Nose
This breathing technique brings you into the moment by having you consciously focus on switching the airways you are breathing in and out of. At the same time, you are exhaling slower than you are inhaling which will be slowing your heart rate. You can feel free to modify the structure of this to keep yourself focused. This is a useful breathing technique in mid inning situations that become stressful, or between innings, when on the bench.