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  • Breathing.

    So simple. So easy.

    You’re doing it right now, and you’re not even thinking about it.

    We go through each day often forgetting that this essential function of our breath is what is keeping us alive.

    When we’re relaxed, breathing is a calm, consistent, effortless experience…

    But what about after a few full court sprints on the basketball court?

    All of a sudden you become VERY aware of your breathing.

    The effortless, slow, quiet breath operating in the background has been replaced with rapid and powerful gasps for air as your entire body fights for more oxygen.

    Think about it, when else can you actually feel your heart beating in your chest?

    What about when you’re nervous? Like when your team is down by 1 in a championship game, and you’re at the free throw line with a chance to tie or win it.

    Sometimes in these moments we have to be reminded to breathe altogether.

    Our body gets tight and our lungs follow.

    Athletes know that their breathing will be affected by the physical and mental stresses that are placed on them. That’s not groundbreaking information. However, what most athletes fail to realize is that learning how to control their breathing can actually improve their overall performance.

    Let me ask you a question…

    What if the difference between you making or missing your next game winning shot isn’t about getting more shots up on game day or staying later after practice?

    What if the secret is a 20-30 second breathing exercise during the timeout before the play?

    What if 10 seconds of focused effort on your breathing before every trip to the line could boost your percentage from average to exceptional?

    The following 3 breathing tips are meant to serve as tools for you to experiment with.

    Over time, these tips may help you gain more control over your breathing, your body, and your in-game performance.


    When people get tired, they breathe faster.

    It seems natural – the more breaths you take, the more oxygen you should get into your body.

    There’s just one big problem…

    That’s not actually what happens.

    According to breathing expert, Tom Broback, “Over-breathing causes an excess release of carbon dioxide, which negatively impacts the release of oxygen from the red blood cells to the working muscles.”

    Basically, breathing too much makes it harder for your body to use oxygen. Breathing slower allows you to process oxygen more efficiently so that your muscles can recover faster and perform better.

    In your next workout or practice, I want you to pay attention to your breathing when you get tired or when you’re put under pressure.

    According to the experts, the optimal breath is about 11 seconds (5.5 seconds in and 5.5 seconds out).

    Time your breaths as they naturally occur, then slow them down if needed and see if you can feel a difference.

    2.) Identify Your “Check-In” Times

    The hardest part of learning to control your breathing might be remembering to try to control your breathing.

    Ok, now read that again.

    Still fuzzy?

    Let me explain…

    Breathing happens subconsciously. You don’t have to think about it…


    If you want to improve your breathing, you do have to think about it.

    So now, in the midst of your game or practice or workout, when your mind is focused on a million other things, you have to add “breathing” into your list of things to think about? How on earth are you going to remember that?


    Check-ins are specific times that you’ve committed to ahead of time, that will be your designated breathing regulation times.

    Free throws. Timeouts. Water Breaks. Out of Bounds.

    Don’t let this time go to waste.

    Choose 1 or 2 situations that happen frequently and use them as a breathing check-in reminder.

    Commit to doing a breathing check-in every time one of these opportunities arise no matter what.

    As you build the habit of checking in on your breath, you will organically start to do so during other times throughout your games, practices, and workouts.

    3.) Find Your Favorite Breathing Exercises

    There are a lot of different breathing techniques out there. If you Google, “breathing exercises for athletes” you’ll have access to dozens of exercises that you can try out.

    The best place to start is by experimenting with as many different techniques as you can until you find your favorite 2 to 3.

    Your body is unique – so you need to find what works best for YOU!

    For example, my favorite exercise is ‘Box Breathing’. 4 second breath in, 4 second hold, 4 second breath out, 4 second hold. Usually 2-3 rounds of this exercise make me feel like I’ve hit a reset button on my body. Feel free to try this exercise first, but remember what works for me might not work for you. So be open to experimenting until you find what does.

    Great players are always seeking competitive advantages. They know that big growth occurs through the accumulation of a lot of small details.

    Controlling your breathing is an example of one of those small details.

    Better breathing can help calm your mind and body, and ultimately help you perform better in pressure situations.

    Most average players will overlook or undervalue their breathing, but you don’t have to be like most average players. And you can separate yourself from them just by focusing more on one thing…

    Your breath.

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    About PGC

    PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.

    We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.

    Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.

    To learn more about PGC Basketball, including additional basketball training tips and videos, visit our YouTube Channel or find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.