One of the most beneficial skills a golfer can develop is learning how to breathe effectively to cope with the pressure and stress on the golf course. In this article, I share one of my favorite breathing methods for stress reduction, and the important things to know to always get the relaxation response from deep breathing. The 336 method is simple to remember and easy to do. Here are the steps:
This is an excellent method for keeping your cool on the course. Use this method before shots, in-between shots, or while waiting for your turn. It will keep your mind and body relaxed and keep you in the present moment. By focusing your mind on this technique, it will distract you away from stressors on the course and give you the ability to manage stress in a more effective way.
Here are some things to remember about this style of breathing. First, as you become more proficient at deep breathing, you can expand the number of seconds for the inhale, pause, and exhale of the breath. Instead of doing a 3 second inhale, you may prefer to increase it to 4 or 5 seconds with an exhale of 8-10 seconds. This breathing cycle doesn’t have to be rigid and after a little practice you will be able to discover what works the best for you.
Just remember the golden rule to activate the relaxation response: For every 1 second of inhalation, do 2 seconds of exhalation.
Since the exhale is the relaxation part of the breath cycle it is important to always double the time of the inhale and make it a slowed deliberate exhalation. Next, when inhaling, it is recommended to do this through your nose in order to avoid getting a sore throat and exhale through your mouth because it is easier to regulate and control the air releasing from your lungs.
Another key point to remember is the pause between the inhale and exhale as well as between breaths. This is important because as you learn to breathe with your abdomen and diaphragm, you will be flooding your brain with more oxygen than it is used to. More than 1/3 of the oxygen goes straight to your brain and can cause a feeling of being lightheaded due to the amount of oxygen the brain receives. By pausing after a deep inhale, it prevents this feeling from occurring. If you notice yourself becoming dizzy from this breathing cycle, stop immediately, and return to your normal breathing until the feeling is gone.
It is also recommended that you breathe like this as often as possible on the course. Make it a goal to take a few breaths like this before taking your shot, and throughout the round. It will keep you focused, relaxed, and centered in a state of confidence while playing golf.