Warning: breathing is a big deal. Which means if you are not careful, you might pay the consequences. Therefore, I share what I’ve learned here with you, at the same time I’m not responsible for you. You are. SO, be smart, and if what I suggest is not appropriate for you, don’t do it. Or ask your doctor. Ok? No kidding, my friend!
How to Breathe in Tennis-The short version
If you’re interested to know how you can synchronize your breathing in tennis, to be in the flow, in rhythm with the ball:
How to Breathe in Tennis-The long version
- during the point
- in between the points
- to train your endurance, confidence and relaxation
How to Breathe in Tennis: Summary
- Learn to Synchronize your breathing with your shots (short video)
- In between the points, breathe through your nose to promote calm and positive focus
- In order to improve your breathing quality, train with the breathing exercises (explained in long video/ podcast)
Bonus 1: How to Quantify your Breathing Improvements
The breathing exercises are made in part to increase our ability to handle CO2. So that our body doesn’t feel the urge to over breathe when we exercise. It is called “breathing economy”.
In order to test your baseline and assess your improvements, here is the BOLT test:
- normal inhale with your nose
- normal exhale with your nose
- pinch your nose as you hold your breathe. Now, see how much time it takes for your body to have its first reflex that it wants to breathe. Maybe you will swallow your saliva. Maybe a contraction of your breathing muscle. This is not a breath-hold record thing. Just an awareness of how much your body is ready to handle CO2 right now.
Results: the Oxygen Advantage expert Patrick McKeown says that if you are under 20sec, as often it is even with top athletes, it means there is a big room for improvements. “To achieve your full potential, a BOLT score of 40 sec should be the goal”, he says.
The Minimum Effective Dose To Improve your BOLT test:
I asked this question to Alexis Santin, who is an Oxygen Advantage practitioner. He told me:
- the Warm-up exercise: inhale for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 12 (as described in the long video and podcast)
- Taping your mouth at night. This way you train your body to breathe through your nose for 7-9 hours every day.
For this second technique, I’ve asked my friends on Facebook their thoughts about it.The overall feedback seems like it’s a very useful technique, used also by the Buteyko practitioners. It’s also scary. Often people are afraid they will stop breathing during the night.
The advice they gave me in order to be reassured, is to tape your mouth 30 min before going to bed, so you are getting used to, and at first to tape it in the vertically (vs. horizontally on the whole mouth).
And again, if you don’t feel like it, don’t do it, simple.
BONUS 2: Resources To Go Deeper
- If you’d like to learn more about breathing, I strongly advise you to attend the Second Wind seminar by Pavel.
You’ll learn the science of breathing and relaxation techniques, as used by Russian athletes and explained by Pavel.
- Patrick Mc Keown’s book Oxygen Advantage.
- Become a Soyez PRO coach (only in France), the method devised by my former coach Ronan Lafaix.
- Online: (in French) Tennis-Tactique.
- Listen to this interview of Patrick Mc Keown that responds to many more questions you might have, like why it is so important to breathe through your nose, the relationship between anxiety and mouth breathing, how to unlock your nose, examples of breathing for sprinters, and more.