LeBron James, arguably the best basketball player in the world, showed us in last night’s season opener that he is in fact human after putting up only 17 points and committing 8 turnovers. Charles Barkley asserted that James succumbed to the pressure of the situation, and that nerves were what prevented James from turning in one of his expected all-star performances. Barkley also went on to talk about one of the most useful sport psychology tools to use when athletes face pressure and anxiety — deep breathing.
Amazingly, as simple as it is to use deep breathing, we often forget or overlook the importance of using deep breathing. Breathing all the way into our diaphragms rather than into our lungs (as we normally do) provides immediate relief when nerves act up and prevent the mind-body synchrony needed for effortless movement and thought.
While there is no one perfect way to do deep breathing, I have found that simply inhaling all the way into the stomach and holding it for a few seconds works remarkably well. Athletes can easily learn to implement deep breathing before games to get focused, as well as in-games to keep a level head and control the anxiety that sometimes spikes during the action.
Deep breathing is a tool that can be used outside of sports, too. For example, if your child struggles with test anxiety or delivering a speech in front of the class, deep breathing can be a great help. Combining positive self-talk with deep breathing can really enhance the experience, allowing for better focus, resiliency, and motivation.
Remind your child to use deep breathing as much as possible when competing — it’s easy to do, and the results will be well worth the effort.
Learn more about how to use deep breathing and many other sport psychology techniques by checking out our popular e-book here!
breathing, confidence, interscholastic, James, LeBron, mental, pressure, psychology, sport, toughness, youth