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Remember to breathe on court


Originally published on: 26/02/10 16:32

We all know that respiration is essential to life and of course occurs naturally in a healthy person.

However, when individuals experience heightened arousal in sport, especially in tennis, it is possible to lose control of this vital function.

Top LTA coach Louis Cayers top tip is to breath out at the moment you hit the ball. He says, It provides mental focus on impact, technical rhythm and physical relaxation which are all a must to performance.

The low-down
If a tennis player struggles to breathe properly when playing tennis it can lead to a problem in muscular coordination that is required in tennis. It can also result in oxygen deficits, which will undoubtedly increase emotional distress and lack of composure on the tennis court.

Research has shown that breathing patterns often fluctuate wildly from point to point, destroying rhythm and coordination that can induce fatigue. That is why if breath control can be learned and practice, an individuals tennis game can greatly benefit.

Some benefits of breathing
Muscle relaxation (and therefore increased ability to create speed in body parts)
Greater timing
More rhythm
Greater core stability
More focus
The ability to calm down or get pumped up in any given situation

Some breathing advice when playing – Synchronize your breathing with hitting the ball: breathe in from the nose as the ball is coming and exhale from the mouth upon contact. If this is practiced regularly it will become more natural in the match. – Try to ensure your breathing pattern is the same regardless of the situation because there is often a tendency to tighten up and hold your breath under pressure. – Inhalations should not be rushed; ideally they should be slow and rhythmic and come from the lower region of the stomach. This means more oxygen can be taken in and will prevent rapid breathing that often happen in pressure situations. – Exhalations need to be slow and deliberate an exhalation can be a signal to hit crisp and accurate shots. – It can be a good idea to pay particular attention just before a really important match so you are not distracted from other worries. – Changeovers are a great time to moderate your breathing pattern by taking slow deep breaths (4-6 seconds) followed by even slower exhalations (6-8 seconds). – Another good time to focus on breathing is just before serving. – It is a great idea to get control of your oxygen intake before the point and then maintain control throughout the point. – Prior to serving or receiving is another good time to focus on breathing. The key is to get control of your oxygen intake before the point and maintain control throughout the point.

In Summary
So, perhaps we should all start to focus on this breathing malarkey on the tennis courts as well as during pilates, yoga and meditation.


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.