Breathing is something that we are born knowing how to do; however, when we are nervous for a big game or during a game, it can be easy to “forget” to breath.

The earlier we learn how to develop good breathing techniques when playing sport, the more likely we are to master these techniques at an early age and thereby prevent poor habits, such as slouching (which causes shallow breathing) from developing.

Shallow breathing causes an increased heart rate, tensed muscles and our bodys’ response mechanism to stress is activated.

Learning how to breathe correctly can:

  1. Decrease muscle tension.
  2. Decrease stress.
  3. Calm pre-match nerves.
  4. Heighten sense of focus.
  5. Decrease negative or distracting thoughts.
  6. Reduce tiredness.
  7. Increase energy.

But how does a parent teach their son to breathe when they haven’t learnt this practice themselves? The answer is simple, learn with your son by doing breathing exercises, like the ones below, before matches. After all, what parent isn’t nervous when their son has a big match ahead of him?

Here’s a breathing exercise to practice with your son ahead of his next rugby game to calm his anxiety.

  1. Find a calm, quiet place to stand or sit.
  2. Place one hand on your chest.
  3. Place your other hand on your stomach.
  4. Take a deep breath, inhaling slowly through your nose.
  5. Let your chest fill with air, until you can’t take any more air in. Your lungs should feel like they are stretching slightly.
  6. Exhale slowly. Take your time in releasing the air from your lungs.
  7. Repeat five times.
  8. Your son should feel much more at ease.

Keep calm and play sport!