Ensuring your athletes know how to breathe while exercising or playing a sport is crucial. Most people don’t actively think about breathing unless they have trouble breathing, such as asthma. Optimizing your athlete’s breath is beneficial, as it will enhance their athletic performance.
A way to help your athletes with their breathing is to practice breathing exercises. Breathing exercises help improve lung capacity, increase blood oxygenation, strengthen the chest and diaphragm, helps athletes relax, and alleviate anxiety.
If you’ve never heard of Joga before, you’re in for a treat! Joga is “Yoga for Athletes”, as it focuses on the discipline of yoga combined with the science and biomechanics of sport! With Joga, your athletes will be able to increase their range of motion, agility, balance, coordination, and much more.
An activity that I learned specifically for athletes in my Joga Teacher Training was a belly and chest breathing exercise. Athletes use both sympathetic (“fight or flight” response) and parasympathetic (“rest and digest” response) nervous systems, and this exercise helps balance out both of them! This exercise will especially help utilize breathing with movement when they are on the court. Try it out with your athletes:
- Inhale through your nose into the belly, exhale through your nose
- Inhale through your nose into the chest, exhale through your nose
- Inhale through your nose into the belly, pause, inhale into your chest, pause, and exhale as one unit all together
- Inhale through your nose into the chest, pause, inhale into your belly, pause, and exhale as one unit all together
If your athletes have trouble sleeping at night, these exercises are good for them as well! By having control over their breathing, they can focus on being present. They will also be able to visualize the next shot they take while they’re in the game, which will overall improve their performance too!
Check out Joga House for more.
Nikki de Ocampo is the Domestic Development Intern at Canada Basketball. She is currently pursuing her Health Sciences Degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion at Sheridan College, and has a passion for holistic health and wellness.