Performance Breathing: Train to Manage Stress

by Patrick Larcom

RobWilsonEarlier this year Rob Wilson came up to CRI as the Sunday keynote speaker at the 2019 What Works Summit.  We were connected with him through Olympic Rower and Gold Medalist Erin Cafaro Mackenzie who has worked with him in the past.  While he's not a rower himself it was great hearing his talk and stories of what he's observed having a daughter as a varsity rower in high school.

Rob Wilson works with a variety of athletes from amateur to nationally ranked across several sports, as well as the US Armed Forces as a human performance consultant.  Be sure to look for more about Rob and his work at powerspeedendurance.com/artofbreath.

If you love talking about rowing and want more than a weekend, also checkout the Institute for Rowing Leadership and pack years of learning into one intense year! The IRL is accepting applications on a rolling basis until April 1st, 2019.
 
You can see our course catalogue, download the application and find more information on our website or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
Here are some key takeaways that coaches reported from Rob's presentation on performance breathing:
 
  • Ways we can change our body’s reactions and performance through internal forces such as breathing

  • Learning to switch from high arousal to calm is a skill and athletes can learn it to help make transitions better

  • Breathing exercises for everyday use

  • Trying to breath with entire lung, the back, the sides, etc vs just breathing with the front and the chest going up and down

  • Thought-provoking ideas that were new and different

Want to listen to the audio recording of Rob's presentation or checkout his breathing tools? Be sure to "Read More" below and find his answers to followup questions from coaches at the conference!

Rob Wilson Performance Breating IRL at CRIClick here for the following:

Follow Up Questions for Rob:

Do you have examples of breath sequences my athletes can do during short rest periods in practice?

During training, there are two goals during short periods; recover your energy and focus your mind on the task at hand.  Focused breathing accomplishes both. Start with this simple technique:

Big inhale through your nose>relaxed exhale out the mouth 2x

Big inhale through your nose>relaxed exhale out the nose 4x - the exhale should be slightly longer than the inhale; this engages the relaxation response from the body

Big inhale through your nose>slight pause>slow relaxed exhale through your nose 2x

This sequence will help slow heart rate and refocus your aperture on training.  Here's an awesome article on how breathing affects the brain.

https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/jn.00551.2017

What are some breathing techniques for athletes to use to focus before practice, and also for after practice to walk away with a good mindset?

Before practice using faster breathing practices can help supercharge the mind and oxygenate the body.  When used properly, faster breathing techniques engage our physiology in a way that prepares us for action.  A word of caution though, if you're feeling a bit overstimulated or anxious this technique can exacerbate those feelings.  In that case, it may be better to use a slower breathing technique or add a few slow breaths at the end of the protocol. Attached below is an awesome SuperVentilation technique we use regularly.  Credit: WeMove Magazine.

Super Ventilation Breathing Infographic

  1. Breathe in deeply, filing lungs 100%, then breathe out about 50%.  Do this rapidly for about two minutes

  2. After two minutes, try to hold your breath, starting with 20 or 30 seconds, and working up to being able to hold it for 60 seconds

  3. Breathe out and repeat if desired.

After practice using breathing techniques has amazing value.  It helps move our body towards a more Parasympathetic dominant State (recovery mode).  This has two huge advantages:

1.  We begin to utilize more efficient energy resources and replenish nutrients faster.  This allows us to transition to States of relaxation and recovery that let us perform well at other activities and even downshift more easily for sleep.

2.  Calming down after practice gives athletes the chance to engage in accurate retrospect.  This is really important. Sometimes our emotions about our performance can cloud our ability to be neutral and learn.  Many times success is predicated on who can fail faster and apply what they learn. Breath can be a powerful tool to remove the emotional stigma from potential learning situations so we can glean helpful information that pushes us closer to our best.

 Love talking about rowing? Want more than a weekend? 

ResizedImage100100 IRL SealCome to the Institute for Rowing Leadership and pack years of learning into one intense year! The IRL is accepting applications on a rolling basis until April 1st, 2019.
 
Check out our course catalogue, download the application and find more information on our website or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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