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The Hunger Games - and Breathing Techniques

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

This weekend I finally watched The Hunger Games.  The movie was kind of lame (they should've brought in an action scene expert as they were dull and boring).  But I started to pay special attention as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) repeatedly shot arrows at targets throughout the movie, and nailing them with great precision.  And in several scenes - the director zooms in very close to her face before she makes the shot.  And you can see her controlled breathing which is a major part of archery... Inhale, Exhale, Inhale, Exhale... Very controlled breathing patterns.

 

 

Ok, so while Jennifer Lawrence is cute as hell... This got me thinking about breathing - and the techniques of breathing in the game of golf.  Breathing helps you focus by lowering your blood pressure and tension and ultimately helps reduce anxiety.  "Hmmmm... That sounds like something I should be trying when I play golf?" - is what I told myself as I watched the movie.

 

So today I went to the range and hit several balls - without focusing on my breathing.  The shots were Ok - not great.  Some very good, some not so good.  Some were way off my intended target.  

 

Then I changed up my routine... At address, once I was lined up and felt like my grip and alignment was where I needed it - right before I would typically start the swing... I simply focused on a controlled breathing pattern.  Inhaling - taking a deep breath - and exhaling - and controlled exhale.  I hit several shots - conciously focused on breathing only (again after I was properly aligned) and the results were astounding.  I was hitting the ball further, straighter and on my intended target line at a much higher percentage.  

 

It got to a point where I was like - Ok - I need to just focus on breathing and hit one shot with a different iron each swing to see if I could replicate this success.  I went up and down my bag - and continued to stripe shots by simply implementing focused breathing before I pulled the trigger.  I mean sounds so simple - but really it helped me.  I experimented a little with different techniques... Until I found my optimal pattern...

 

Optimal Breathing Pattern

Inhale #1 (slowly - but not too slow - enough to feel my chest expand - lungs fill with air)

Exhale #1 (slowly - where I could feel my chest shrink - as the air exited my lungs)

Inhale #2 (slowly - but not too slow - again enough to feel my chest expand - lungs fill with air)

Exhale #2 (slowly - and as I am in the midst of exhaling is when I pull the trigger) - start my swing.

By the time my swing is finished - I have fully exhaled - and have a firm abdomin (in a sense holding my breath)

 

Again, I tried several other patterns - but found the above pattern was best for me.  I really think it was a great way to clear my mind (helped m reach a state of unconcious thinking) where I could swing without any notion of something going wrong.  I was amazed with the results.  Just wanted to share this with you in case you want to try it.

post #2 of 19

Sad that this didn't get discussed. Bit busy catching up but hoping bumping it will be enough to do this.

 

Lots of people are unaware but something as simple as how your jaw is aligned (or how relaxed the muscles in your face are) can change motor patterns, muscle efficiency, etc.

post #3 of 19

I noticed maybe an inhale the mic picked up in this video of Tiger. On the start of his back swing, I think I hear him inhale and probably exhale on the downswing, which I can't hear.

 

I saw the Hunger Games over the weekend as well and did notice the breathing she was doing after drawing her bow. It does relax any kind of tension in your muscles. Inhaling on the back swing will also tighten your abs and "stores energy" just like how some swing coaches tell us to "load up" on your right side. 

 

post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

Sad that this didn't get discussed. Bit busy catching up but hoping bumping it will be enough to do this.

 

Lots of people are unaware but something as simple as how your jaw is aligned (or how relaxed the muscles in your face are) can change motor patterns, muscle efficiency, etc.

 

I definitely see a lot of guys, myself included at times, with tension in my cheeks.  James brought up someone that hits balls with his mouth open.  One of our Evolvr instructors, Brian McGrew, recently recommend to one of our students to hit balls with his mouth open because of how tense his whole body is over the ball.

 

I haven't tried this but it seems to make sense.  Like Erik said, can change motor patterns.  A common mistake I see a lot of golfers make is to rotate the left forearm at too fast a rate on the takeaway, club gets too in and low.  There's more to it but maybe this would help.

 

Always fun to keep learning a1_smile.gif

post #5 of 19

I'm not a big reader of instruction books, but two that I really like are Bob Rotella's "Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect" and Harvey Penick's books.  One thing those two books have in common is talking about focus.  Extreme focus on a specific target (Like Harvey says, "take dead aim) and being totally committed to each shot.  Neither discuss breathing techniques, and I've never thought about it, but that seems like something that would be really important to staying focused.  I'm going to try it next time out.

 

Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ...

 

Is this whole thread just an elaborate ruse to explain to your wife why you were staring at Jennifer Lawrence in slow motion for so long? c3_clap.gif

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

Sad that this didn't get discussed. Bit busy catching up but hoping bumping it will be enough to do this.

 

Lots of people are unaware but something as simple as how your jaw is aligned (or how relaxed the muscles in your face are) can change motor patterns, muscle efficiency, etc.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvmac View Post

 

I definitely see a lot of guys, myself included at times, with tension in my cheeks.  James brought up someone that hits balls with his mouth open.  One of our Evolvr instructors, Brian McGrew, recently recommend to one of our students to hit balls with his mouth open because of how tense his whole body is over the ball.

 

I haven't tried this but it seems to make sense.  Like Erik said, can change motor patterns.  A common mistake I see a lot of golfers make is to rotate the left forearm at too fast a rate on the takeaway, club gets too in and low.  There's more to it but maybe this would help.

 

Always fun to keep learning a1_smile.gif

Mike - it's interesting that you mention the tip Brian McGrew provided about opening the mouth to reduce the tension within the jaw.  

 

I have bad allergies - and have never been able to really breathe comfortably through my nose... I mean I can breathe through my nostrils, but it just feels like I'm taking shallower breaths than normal.  So when I was doing the controlled breathing patterns mentioned within the OP - I was focusing on breathing through my mouth.  Not my nose.  So my mouth was open.

 

I just wanted to highlight this as it falls inline with the tension of the jaw/cheeks you and Erik mentioned here.  Good stuff!

post #7 of 19

that was one of those things me and a buddy used to say to get in your head.  "Do you inhale or exhale on the downswing?"  Guaranteed to mess someone up for a while. f3_laugh.gif

post #8 of 19

I prefer to Inhale just prior to backswing, and exhale on backswing through downswing. 

 

As a runner and weight lifter I agree that proper breathing techniques are key to performance and energy conservation as well as minimizing tension within the body. 

post #9 of 19

An interesting tip for keeping the jaw relaxed during the swing: Put the tip of your tongue on the back of your top/front teeth, where the teeth meet the gums. Just keeping your tongue there will help keep your jaw relaxed throughout the swing. This technique is used in meditation to keep the jaw relaxed and helps you breathe through your nose. It also helps keep your mouth from producing saliva which is beneficial in long meditation but probably of no value in the golf swing a1_smile.gif

post #10 of 19

In Golf for Dummies (it was a gift, and yes I read it) McCord hits on the point of muscle tension in the mouth and face.  His drill.  Hit balls with a potato chip in between your lips and dont break it.  Pretty simple but seems to have stuck with me... I have not thought about it in years, yet it came to me while reading this thread.

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1puttit View Post

An interesting tip for keeping the jaw relaxed during the swing: Put the tip of your tongue on the back of your top/front teeth, where the teeth meet the gums. Just keeping your tongue there will help keep your jaw relaxed throughout the swing. This technique is used in meditation to keep the jaw relaxed and helps you breathe through your nose. It also helps keep your mouth from producing saliva which is beneficial in long meditation but probably of no value in the golf swing a1_smile.gif

 

I have played some high level tournament poker, and we use this same method to reduce facial tension, thereby eliminating unwanted tells. a2_wink.gif

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1puttit View Post

An interesting tip for keeping the jaw relaxed during the swing: Put the tip of your tongue on the back of your top/front teeth, where the teeth meet the gums. Just keeping your tongue there will help keep your jaw relaxed throughout the swing. This technique is used in meditation to keep the jaw relaxed and helps you breathe through your nose. It also helps keep your mouth from producing saliva which is beneficial in long meditation but probably of no value in the golf swing a1_smile.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Double Bogey View Post

In Golf for Dummies (it was a gift, and yes I read it) McCord hits on the point of muscle tension in the mouth and face.  His drill.  Hit balls with a potato chip in between your lips and dont break it.  Pretty simple but seems to have stuck with me... I have not thought about it in years, yet it came to me while reading this thread.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipless View Post

I have played some high level tournament poker, and we use this same method to reduce facial tension, thereby eliminating unwanted tells. a2_wink.gif

Yeah, because based on your username, you obviously could not use double bogey's idea.  (Too bad for you!)

post #13 of 19

Didn't under armour come up with a very very expensive mouthguard (2,000 dollars or so) that aligns your jaw in a special way which optimizes motor function. I remember one of the coaches getting fit for one and he swore it made him kill the ball. 

 

I am always a little resistant to ideas like that though - perception can be an amazing thing. I know people who hit find a new driver that they hit 20 yards longer. They have done this the last 10 years, so should now be driving 200 yards longer, but they hit it about the same distance in reality. When I have seen clubfitting in the past, I have seen people try out a new club, whack the hell out of it with their hardest swing, completely ignore the duff shots they hit and only perceive the one they hit outta the screws. Then they go and claim it goes 20 yards longer than their own - yeah right mate.

 

I looked at that under armour thing on their website as they claimed it had scientific studies to prove it - and it was based on ancient wisdom that the Nords used to bite leather when going into battle (often a sign that it's a load of bull). Low and behold, it was an uncontrolled non blind experiment, the holy fail of scientific experiments. Placebo effect is huge and needs to be accounted for.

 

As an example of placebo effect, one of my friends did a study on weight training strength improvements using a 5 week dose of creatine. It achieved a 20% strength improvement......... the placebo maltodextrin also achieved an 18% strength gain.

 

That said, I will wait to see more about this jaw alignment thing. I'm not completely writing it off, just very sceptical about it. In terms of helping a player get a neural focus, I am all for it and often work on breathing techniques/counting drills/rhythm and flow routines etc to get a player out of their heads when playing)

post #14 of 19

In the June Golf Digest, Keegan Bradley indicated he also focuses on relaxing his face:   "I focus on my facial muscles. When you can get your mouth to relax, your whole body relaxes".   

 

About a month ago I noticed I was experiencing a lot of tension in my lower jaw when getting ready to swing, kind of skewing my jaw sideways.   I also find it periodically at other times, and suspect the tension may be caused by extra stress in my work (it really has exploded in the last couple months).      This jaw shift seems to make it a little more difficult to keep my head still and I have to consciously try to relax my jaw muscles before swinging.     Maybe I'll try the breathing technique thing to see if that helps.


 
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Young View Post

Didn't under armour come up with a very very expensive mouthguard (2,000 dollars or so) that aligns your jaw in a special way which optimizes motor function. I remember one of the coaches getting fit for one and he swore it made him kill the ball. 

 

I am always a little resistant to ideas like that though - perception can be an amazing thing. I know people who hit find a new driver that they hit 20 yards longer. They have done this the last 10 years, so should now be driving 200 yards longer, but they hit it about the same distance in reality. When I have seen clubfitting in the past, I have seen people try out a new club, whack the hell out of it with their hardest swing, completely ignore the duff shots they hit and only perceive the one they hit outta the screws. Then they go and claim it goes 20 yards longer than their own - yeah right mate.

 

I looked at that under armour thing on their website as they claimed it had scientific studies to prove it - and it was based on ancient wisdom that the Nords used to bite leather when going into battle (often a sign that it's a load of bull). Low and behold, it was an uncontrolled non blind experiment, the holy fail of scientific experiments. Placebo effect is huge and needs to be accounted for.

 

As an example of placebo effect, one of my friends did a study on weight training strength improvements using a 5 week dose of creatine. It achieved a 20% strength improvement......... the placebo maltodextrin also achieved an 18% strength gain.

 

That said, I will wait to see more about this jaw alignment thing. I'm not completely writing it off, just very sceptical about it. In terms of helping a player get a neural focus, I am all for it and often work on breathing techniques/counting drills/rhythm and flow routines etc to get a player out of their heads when playing)

 

Adam, great post.  I agree it is like 'mind over matter' - the brain is a mysterious muscle.  Perhaps it is as simple as focusing on breathing - or placement of the tongue - as a way to distract the golfer for a short period of time - to swing without tension/stress?

 

Like if the brain is focused on maintaining placement of the tongue - then it is too busy for the mind to worry about what to do with the golf swing?  Like a distraction mechanism - like a magician's slight of hand?  One part of our brain is distracted focusing on one function - while the another part of our brain performs the swing without interruption?

post #16 of 19

My thoughts exactly. I believe these things work, but I also think if we found out the mechanisms behind why these things work, we would be much more informed to take control of the actual mechanism and have greater control over our games in general.

post #17 of 19

There is something called the Feldenkrais Method which uses somatic education to help train the body in synchronized movements, named for an Israeli physicist and engineer who studied interactions within the body's physiology.    Years ago I had a coworker who studied it on the side and became one of their certified instructors.   I thought is was kind of a bunch of hooey - an LA new age thing, but he opened my eyes a bit.   

 

I was having some difficulty regaining full motion in my right hand after an injury, and he started moving some joints on my left shoulder.    "But the injury is my right hand, not the shoulder on my other side!" I said, but he persevered.   After a few minutes, my hand started getting much more flexible and regained full motion.      My friend explained that the injury had actually caused compensations in another part of the body, and retraining that different part how to move properly was needed.     I wouldn't have believed it except that it worked.    I never became a student of the method, but I can understand its validity.  

 

Applying this to the golf swing, I can completely understand how issues in executing precise movements through the swing in one part of the body can be heavily influenced by other parts that seemingly have little to do with the part we're focusing on.    Hmmm, perhaps there is a career to be made by someone teaching how to apply Feldenkrais specifically to the golf swing......

post #18 of 19

I have seen the feldenkrais method, and the alexander method, and EFT tapping technique and kinesiology and a healing crystals and barnum statements and hawthorn effect....... good news is, they all work. Placebo effect is amazing.

 

One of my favourite lines in the film K-Pax - "For your information; all beings have the capacity to cure themselves".

 

I'm glad it worked for you and your hand is better. Unfortunately, my mother who has celiac disease (wheat allergy, but a real one which could potentially cause her major problems if she eats it, not the 'new fangled' wheat allergy that is supposedly making everyone fat) was given a homeopathic remedy. She can now eat small amounts of wheat without feeling violently ill. Unfortunately for her, the cells in her body don't respond in the same way as her mind is responding. Just because she 'feels' better doesn't mean it is not causing her major harm on a cellular level. This is the bad side of placebo's.

 

I'm sure your hand thing is not a problem - to relate this to golf, I have seen players move from putter to putter in search for one that is giving them confidence. Ironically, I have also seen players putt worse with new putters, but believe they are putting better because that is how a human mind operates when given a new club - we perceive only the good shots and the bad ones go unnoticed. But as with my mother's disease, 'feeling' something is better is not always the best thing for you.

 

I have seen players chase a draw as they enjoy the feel it gives them and confidence that they can actually play it. Often they are worse players for it though (not always, granted) as they now open up two misses, and are having to think too much about creating that draw shape, when their fade required no thinking and was their natural shape.

 

I don't know where I went with that, but I think you get my drift :)   

 

If only there was a way of capturing the good elements of the placebo effect, whilst minimising the negatives. Hmmmm

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