The Breath - Another Peak Performance Tool

The Breath – Another Peak Performance Tool


You are a competitive (let’s say high school, college or PBA/PWBA) bowler and you live and die for game winning situations. An opportunity to make one shot to win the event. Many may tense up and miss, it’s natural. However, if you start to build the muscle of the mind, unconsciously your breath kicks in and allows you to flow through the moment. Endless possibilities are right in front of you. STRIKE!!! I can hear the ball entering the pocket perfectly now.


What do you think is the best way to gain emotional control and perform? Breathing.  The key to emotional control is breath control. Breath control is the ultimate weapon. It is the simplest, safest, cheapest, most accessible tool there is for mastering emotional control and for responding to problems, for staying in control, for becoming a peak performer. Breath control is the force that leads to the emotional control that leads to the winning feat that we discussed above – to successfully make that one shot to win.  Have you ever made a bad shot because of not breathing properly?


Chicago Cubs mental performance coach Ken Ravizza said: “I think the breathing is the most important element in the process, in my career, I've been involved in eight Olympic Games, five summer Olympics and three winter Olympics. And I would say the last four Olympic Games, talking with the athletes that I worked with, asking them afterwards, "What helped you the most?" The overwhelming reaction from the athlete’s response was, breathing."


Let's look at the breath. What does the breath do? Number one, the breath brings oxygen to the brain so that you can think clearly. Number two, the breath when you need energy, focus on the inhalation. When you need to calm down, focus on the exhalation. So there's two phases of the breathing, the inhalation when you need energy, the exhalation when you need to calm down. The breath brings you to the present moment. Inhale, exhale, it gets you back to the present. The breath allows you to shift from thinking to doing, to make that shift from the thinking mind to the athletic mind, the doing mind. And the final thing with the breath is the breath is the start of good rhythm. Good rhythm begins with good breath.  Consistent players have great rhythm.


How do you breathe in competition?  I use a number system for the breath.  I teach my newer/younger bowlers the 4-2-6 method.  More experienced players I like the 6-2-8 method.  Let’s discuss the 6-2-8 method.  The first number: 6 would be in the inhale.  Inhale from your abdomen (you should feel your belly button expanding out - your belly should blow up like a balloon) for a count of 6 through your nose.  The second number: 2 is the hold count for the breath.  Hold for 2 seconds.  The third number: 8 is the exhale breath.  Either through your mouth or nose and exhale for a count of 8.  After the exhale, you should feel yourself in control, relaxed and present.  The number system of the technique should be comfortable to you.  Some players use a 4-1-6, 5-1-8, etc. The golden rule to remember:  Always exhale more slowly than you inhale.  You should feel your tension drop down a level or three in calmness.  If not, repeat the process of breathing.


Your ticket to Peak Performance is super simple.  Train yourself to breathe deeply and then remember to breathe every time you're feeling tense and smile doing it.  Practice your number system and apply it to your competitions.  Never cheat the breath and always take as many as you need in the moment.  Start breathing with a smile and Win the Day!