Breathing has been an important topic for athletic performance for decades yet many of us have not unlocked the true potential of what effective breathing can do. Study after study has concluded the same thing; mind your breath. No matter what your physical condition, everyone can benefit from proper breathing to control heart rate and allow for faster recovery between points in a match or sets in the gym. Wim Hof is famous for many daring challenges in frigid weather, most notably climbing Everest in just shorts! His main combat against cold temperatures and high altitudes is through breathing tactics. So what can us mere mortals do with breathing to help our tennis game?
There has been a lot of great books on mindfulness, which is harder to do than it sounds. The concept for breathing is the same. Be conscious of your breathing. Although our body automates it, we can do a much better job of breathing when we are focused on each breath. Start each day with deep breaths. Whenever you are feeling stressed throughout the day, take some deep breaths. You will notice a much more relaxed state as you exhale. For even better results, breathe deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. That way your body can relax even more. This is the same concept you will want to do while you train or compete on the tennis court.
Tennis matches consist of running and resting. These intervals make it hard to keep a consistent heart rate which ultimately impacts performance. Ensure you can recover as fast as possible by taking deep breaths (described above) between points. Even better, work on this in your workouts. Try the "TABATA" format of doing reps of some exercise for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds. Continue this trend for 10 minutes and it will ensure you of a good workout with great practice of breathing correctly to lower your heart rate before the next set. Transition this training into your matches so you can get a leg up on your competition!
Check out the video below on a strategy that will help you hit more penetrating groundstrokes!