Breathing while hitting

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March 13, 2006 8:51 PM

Hi. I am 16 years old and playing high school baseball. I have recently noticed that I have a habit of inhaling as I load and holding my breath until I swing. As I swing, it seems that I normally exhale. This seems bad to me because I know a prime goal is to stay smooth and relaxed. But at the same time, it seems like an explosive way to hit the ball. Just like weight lifting, It seems like it could be good to exhale as I exert force. I really dont know about this one. What does everyone else think? Help is appreciated Smile
 
 
 
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March 13, 2006 9:03 PM

I know that Alex Rodriguez said that when he hits, he exhales while he swings every time.
 
 
 
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March 14, 2006 9:19 PM

What I think is Don't think too much.
If its natural for you too breath in and out, as it is for most of us, then just see the ball and hit the ball. Breathing will generally take care of itself.
In fact, I hadn't thought about breathing all day until I read this.
 
 
 
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March 14, 2006 11:00 PM

All of a sudden I’m having trouble breathing. Smile

Actually, I am a real big believer in proper breathing technique in hitters as well as pitchers (runners too). In fact, it is a very important issue in some of the martial arts. Also utilized in weight lifting.

Hope I’m not opening a can of worms, but I think all coaches should study breathing technique. There are some very important advantages in correct breathing.

To answer the question above… Yes exhaling with the swing can be beneficial. There is no reason it should limit how smooth the swing is. Pitchers can benefit from exhaling to and through release. Runners by exhaling at their start.

Perhaps just as important is having a loose mouth! For those who have never heard of this… please don’t laugh… a loose mouth can help loosen the neck and the shoulders. Horses do this naturally when they run. It also helps your vision. If you don’t believe it… Here’s a test… Pick out an object a fair distance away on a wall. Grit your teeth hard and tighten your mouth as hard as you can and look at the spot. Now open your mouth in a relaxed manner and look at the same spot. So in many hitters a loose mouth can help loosen the shoulders and help your vision. It’s worth a try… you might be one of those that this very small detail will help.

Better stop here… and wait to see if everyone thinks I’m nuts! crazy
 
 
 
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March 15, 2006 12:41 AM

I've been accused of having a loose mouth.
 
 
 
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March 15, 2006 7:12 AM

I think Coachric and PG are saying the same thing, don't overthink, loose mouth... One more thing to think about during your swing isn't something I would recommend. However, prior to the swing, I would use the natural pause between breaths to help relax and concentrate on the pitch, much like the technique used in firing a rifle. Go ahead all you lurking snipers out there, take your "shots".
 
 
 
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March 15, 2006 8:46 AM

{lurk. . . . lurk. . . lurk. . lurk}BANG. Just kidding.

I believe proper breathing technique is a very misunderstood but necessary component of an athlete's repertoire. When I first went out for track many, many, too many years ago, I was told by the best sprinter on the team that he took a deep breath and held it for the first 20 steps before exhaling and breathing in and out as his body demanded. His theory was that it was more efficient to have the oxygen remain in the lungs for as long as you could stand it than to exhale most of the oxygen and CO2 out, thereby "emptying" your lungs and then filling them back up over and over again. I have no clue whether he was right or wrong but he won quite a few 100 yard dashes. But that might have been in spite of and not because of his breathing theory.

In the Army when I was going through rifle training, we were taught to take a "normal" breath, exhale half of it and then focus on placing the gun sight on the center of the target. I don't know what the scientific theory behind that was but it worked for me by helping me relax, focus and, most important, hold the rifle steady for the few seconds it took to find the center of the target and squeeze off the round.

My point with all this ancient history is that there is a lot of "breathing theory" out there and has been for years but I wonder how much of it has been proven by scientific studies.

I think PG's loose mouth idea makes sense if for no other reason than the less tension a runner has in any part of his body at start, the better. For the hitter, for years it has been hitting gospel that the best way to hit is to get relaxed and loose until the decision to "launch" and then all muscle groups needed in play get the brain's message and "twitch" at the same micro-second. There is even a big scientific sounding word for it which George Will likes to use often that I cannot remember right now.

What I hope is that some of the knowledgable guys that frequent the Strength & Conditioning site get on this thread and tell us all what the most recent scientific evidence is regarding athletes and breathing and show us what is myth and what is reality. JasonTX and Coach Doyle, where are you?
 
 
 
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March 15, 2006 10:02 AM

What do you think of using the cue “grunt” to get the hitter to exhale during the swing and just prior to contact? I can see my sons locking-up mentally if I tell them to breath out just before contact. If I tell them to grunt, they will do it with no problem.
 
 
 
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March 15, 2006 10:49 AM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by PGStaff:
Perhaps just as important is having a loose mouth! For those who have never heard of this… please don’t laugh… a loose mouth can help loosen the neck and the shoulders. Horses do this naturally when they run. It also helps your vision. If you don’t believe it… Here’s a test… Pick out an object a fair distance away on a wall. Grit your teeth hard and tighten your mouth as hard as you can and look at the spot. Now open your mouth in a relaxed manner and look at the same spot. So in many hitters a loose mouth can help loosen the shoulders and help your vision. It’s worth a try… you might be one of those that this very small detail will help (End of quote)

Jerry always gives sound advice. Many years ago, I was told by an ex-major leaguer (can't remember who it was) that most pros keep their mouth open while batting. It wasn't for the breathing, but for the purpose of keeping tension out of the neck and, more importantly, it's much harder to blink when one's mouth is open. For years, while coaching youth baseball, I told my players to keep their mouths open and loose while batting for those reasons, and even if it really didn't work, they felt it did and that's a big psychological advantage, at least. But, the main thing was it makes it harder to blink.
 
 
 
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March 15, 2006 11:15 AM

This I know for a fact. If you aren't breathing, you will never hit the ball!!! Sorry, had to be done. Wink
 
 
 
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March 15, 2006 8:00 PM

hs, that was my take, I couldn't resist. I have studied the martial arts for a few years and breathing techniques are very important. Exhaling from your center is where you gain force.
PG's stuff is right on as usual, so I won't go on any further about it.
 
 
 
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March 15, 2006 9:39 PM

The ability to breath correctly and the ability to relax go hand in hand.

The great ones are very relaxed, their heart rate is not elevated and they can exert a tremendous amount of force from within.

That is one reason why I hate to see players tense up and grunt when lifting weights. Weight lifting for athletes should be done in an explosive manner, but as relaxed as possible.I know this may not make sense at first.

As PG gave the horse example, I ask you to think of an Olympic sprinter when they show the slow-motion. They are ripped with very little bodyfat, working an explosive manner, yet their faces are so relaxed it is flopping all over the place. This has a great deal to do with their breathing techniques.

With that said, getting most young athletes to relax is hard enough. Once you can do that, advanced breathing techniques can be taught.
 
 
 
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March 15, 2006 10:57 PM

One of the most challenging things to do as an athlete or to teach as a coach is to relax all areas of the body you are not utilizing to execute a given skill.

As has been covered proper breathing keeps the heart rate from skyrocketing and can give an athlete a point of focus amongst the chaos.

A deep breath and holding for periods of .5 - 1.5 seconds are common practice in athletics and help in stabilizing the core. Inability to recruit the core through proper breathing and postural initialization rob the athlete of power production. This true whether swinging a bat, golf club, or the 100 meter sprinter.
 
 
 
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