Breathing Techniques for HittersAug 22, 2023
Read time: 4 minutes
• This week's podcast is with Alan Jaeger.
Listen on patrickjonesbaseball.com
Breath and Movement: A Powerful Duo for hitters.
Breathing is more than a reflex—it's a lifeline.
Just as the lungs sustain life, breath sustains performance.
In a study, researchers discovered that inhaling stimulates key brain areas, offering an intimate connection between breath and brain activity.
It's a reminder that breath isn't just automatic; it's a catalyst for optimizing movement and mental focus.
In the game of baseball and softball, the synergy between breath and movement is undeniable.
As coaches, we possess the key to unlocking hitters' potential through intentional breath techniques.
By aligning the rhythm of breath with the fluidity of swings, we empower players to channel their energy with precision.
Oxygenation and Mindset: The Biochemical Advantage
In the high-pressure context of hitting, where every at-bat counts, oxygenation and energy management are paramount.
Breath is the vehicle for optimizing oxygen intake and carbon dioxide release, fueling players' muscles and minds for precise hits and swift baserunning.
Breathing Drills for Hitters
Hitting coaches can amplify their impact by introducing targeted breathing drills for players.
Consider integrating the following drills into training routines:
Inhale-Exhale Rhythm: Teach hitters to synchronize their breath with their swings. Inhale as they load and exhale during the swing. This rhythmic breathing enhances muscle coordination and power.
Three-Stage Breathing: Inhale deeply for a count of three, hold for three, and exhale for three. This exercise oxygenates the body while promoting relaxation, essential for a poised mental state at the plate.
Box Breathing: Guide players to visualize a box as they breathe. Inhale along one side, hold as they move along the next, exhale on the third, and hold on the fourth. This technique calms nerves and enhances focus.
Pause-Breath-Swing: Incorporate a brief pause between inhale and exhale before initiating the swing.
Current Boston Red Sox Hitter Triston Casas attests to the profound influence of breath on both mind and body.
“I try to shut it off and focus on breathing, I feel like breathing is maybe the most overlooked part of life. We all do it unconsciously, but if you do it correctly, it can influence your mind and your muscles. With the way that your diaphragm works, you can actually send energy to different parts of your body through your breath. Along with those great things, it quiets my mind"
Casas' approach embodies the philosophy that proper breathing can quiet the mind, allowing a hitter's natural athleticism to take over.
Casas further underscores this point by quoting Yogi Berra: "You can’t think and hit at the same time."
His insight serves as a reminder that the mental quietude facilitated by proper breathing can sharpen a hitter's decision-making and execution.
For hitting coaches, integrating breathing techniques into batting strategies is a game-changing endeavor. By educating players on the symbiotic relationship between breath and swing, coaches empower hitters to wield breath as a strategic weapon on the field.
Hitting coaches can design targeted breathing drills that players can incorporate into their batting routines. These exercises can be seamlessly integrated into warm-ups, ensuring that players approach each at-bat with a calibrated breath that enhances their strength and precision.
Moreover, coaches can encourage players to adopt conscious breathing during pressure-packed situations, promoting calm and laser-focused concentration.
Hitting coaches become architects of success, transforming players' approach to hitting through the artful integration of breath.
By synchronizing breath with swing mechanics, optimizing oxygenation through strategic breathing, and nurturing mental resilience through breath-awareness, coaches can foster a new breed of hitters.
By embracing the biomechanical, biochemical, and psychological dimensions of breath, coaches enable hitters to harness this often-overlooked tool for optimal hitting performance.
The quote from lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, perfectly encapsulates the profound impact of breath on the brain: "One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation. When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus, all across the limbic system."
Don't overlook the one of the lowest hanging fruits in player development, teaching players how to to breathe.
Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:
1. If you're looking for more content on player development, I would recommend starting with my free podcast. Where I have interviewed over 300 coaches.
2. PJB Hitting Lessons
We work with hitters of all ages at our cage in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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