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.