Baseball Magazine

Pay Attention to Your Breathing

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

Ever notice that when you stand in on pitchers who are throwing bullpens that all the pitches coming in look like watermelons?  Hitters often see the ball great out of the pitcher’s hand and clearly track the ball into the catcher’s mitt.  In the batter’s mind, each pitch is often followed by the thought, “I would have killed that pitch.”  The same is often true when the batter hits off a tee, a pitching machine, and/or live BP.  Most swings seem to come more easily and usually results in hard hit balls.  But something different happens when they get into the game.  The ball doesn’t look so big anymore.  It’s tougher to see the ball out of the pitcher’s hand.  Why does this happen and more importantly,

Pay attention to your breathing

This time of year, be sure to focus some attention to what’s happening internally.

how can a batter bring this practice success into the game? 

The reason why things change is pressure.  In practice, there is not much pressure so the player’s body is relaxed and able to move and react easily.  Add pressure and bodily functions start to change.  The heart rate increases, muscles start to tense, the eyes open wider, and the breathing becomes more rapid and shallow.  The way to change this and bring more of that practice success into games is to monitor and adjust those bodily functions. 

There are many tricks and techniques that can help a player do this but the most simple way is to monitor and adjust their breathing.  In practice, due to the lack of pressure, the player’s breathing is normal and relaxed.  Along with this breathing pattern, the eyes, heart rate, and muscles are more relaxed as well.  Therefore, body movements are quick, balanced, and powerful.  All things players strive for.  When a player recognizes that their heart rate is increasing or that their muscles are tensing when the pressure kicks in, they can alter these functions simply by slowing down their breathing and make the body “think” that there is less pressure.  Therefore, a slower, deeper breathing pattern tricks the body into relaxing and returns it to the state it was in during practice.

This time of year is great for improving a player’s awareness of what happens inside their body.  So much of a baseball player’s focus is on external things (seeing the ball, running to a location, catching the ball, etc.) that they often get into the habit of NOT focusing any attention on what’s happening internally.  When players practice in the off-season, they should be recognizing their own breathing patterns when they are having success while hitting, pitching, and fielding.  When the pressure of games arrive, they can return their bodies to that practice state by regulating and adjusting their body as needed.  Often that is as simple as adjusting the way they breathe. 

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