Well well well…here you are again. I am so glad you are here…because without you, I will not be here, doing this, which is what I just love to do…which is just talk about golf which sometimes has a subtle reference to life!! So…Welcome to Better Golf Academy!! My name is Hanju, I am your host for this podcast and I hope you continue to listen, learn and implement some of the ideas I present for you…so that you can play better golf and so that you get to enjoy this challenging game so much more!! Deal? Okay, deal.
As promised, I want to acknowledge another one of my listeners who left me a 5-star review. Apple Itunes keeps the reviewers anonymous so if you want to add your first name at the bottom of the review, I will make sure you get a shoutout from me. I do this because I am super appreciative that you took the time to write it and also, encourage others to do it as well…cause I hear more engagement and reviews you get, the more they (the apple people) will expose this podcast to others. Can someone confirm that out there? Is that really true?
This week, Stephen left me a 5-star review by saying “Newfound Interest in Golf” – He says, “As someone who’s never been into the sport of golf, this podcast has piqued my interest in golf more than ever. Hanju’s ability to grasp the listener through his knowledge of golf and his experiences really inspire you to get out there on the green and to play without fear of failure. Anyone who’s new to golf or a veteran should definitely take a listen to this podcast, I guarantee you’ll learn something new and you can apply when playing golf but also in your everyday life. Thoroughly enjoyed each episode!!
Well, this is amazing! I am incredibly honored to be part of your journey in inspiring and helping you get better Stephen!! So, wow!! Thank you so much for this. It made my day.
Why Breathing Matters?
So, what if I told you that there’s this one exercise you can do every day that will help you… change the PH of your blood, so it can make it more acid or more alkaline in minutes. (you are like, so?…haha! Why do I care?) Okay, so, what I said this exercise can even boost your digestion and lower your heart-rate, (you are like, okay, little more relevant, I’ll listen). And I said, what if this exercise can lower your cortisol levels (which is your stress levels), and help you go to sleep at night. (now you are like less stress? I am down…give me more info). And now what if I told you that this very exercise can even help you hit your next best shot on the golf course and what if I told you, in a most intense pressure putt situation, it will put you in a maximum mental state to focus and sink your putts!!! Yeah!! Tell me more, what is it?? It’s an exercise that we are all doing right now. Right now…as I am speaking and as you are listening.
It’s Breathing. I am guessing you probably guess it already because of the title of this episode. Well, certain type of breathing exercise done safely and done correctly can be one of the most powerful ways to control your mind and your body.
That sounds too good to be true you say?…okay, I see how you are. So, let me give you some scientific facts I’ve found on how your body and mind works.
I was in a workshop called LIVE…which helps us gain awesome clarity about who we are and how we can more fully live out our unique destiny. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Well, one of the sessions was taught by my friend Dr. Liz Powell, who is a psychologist, that explained this breathing concept to how it really made sense to me.
When we breathe and take in oxygen into our lungs, the oxygen gets distributed throughout our body for everything to function and blood to flow. Out of that, about 20% of the oxygen gets distributed to the brain to apply the normal brain activity. Everything is all good and fine until a stressful situation arises. Let’s say for example, in a relationship setting, let’s say your spouse or your significant other, or your close friend says something that just triggers you. It makes you angry. Suddenly, your body starts to react. This reaction can start with a heart-pounding a bit faster, then breathing to quicken. This will start to make your muscles tense and a bead of sweat starts to appear.
This combination of reaction is known as the “fight or flight” response.
It’s our normal reaction for survival. It helps us to react quickly to life-threatening situations. Your body goes through an instant sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses to help fight off the threat or flee to safety. Right? It’s the very thing that creates adrenaline to run faster when a bear is chasing you, or lift a car when someone is stuck underneath it…your body is capable of incredible things. You just have to learn how to control it and learn to know what is happening.
So, get this. While your body is going through a transition during this stressful/pressure moment, you know what the oxygen is doing? It’s re-distributing. Remember the 20% in your brain? Well, that gets redistributed to work on everything else your body is doing…making your heart beat faster, making you breathe quicker, making your muscles tense and making you sweat. It’s been measured during this moment, you lose 3-5% of oxygen in your brain!!! Do you know how I know this to be true? In the heat of an argument, you say things you don’t clearly mean. LOL. Hello? Have you ever apologized like this before? “Ummmm, I am so sorry for what I said the other day, I didn’t really mean it…I was just so angry in the moment and these words just came out of my mouth!” Yup. It’s proof that your brain wasn’t functioning 100% due to your lack of oxygen.
Are you guys still with me? I am about to circle back and put all my thoughts together.
But one more thought…so, have you ever watched a basketball game during the playoffs? Last-minute fouls which bring someone to the free-throw line? If the player makes it, it’s a win for the team and they move on to the final championship game, if he misses, the game is over.
It’s a Fight or Flight situation. Life and Death. This is what happens every single time before the player takes a shot. A deep breath. You can see it. Slow intake through the nose, sometimes with their eyes closed, and exhale through the mouth…then the shot.
What is happening here? We’ve always been taught to do this. But why? We are simply replenishing the oxygen back into the brain. So that, we can clearly focus, slow back down our heartbeat, slow down our breath, release the pressure and the tension in the muscle and do what we are trained to do…make the freethrow…sink the putt, hit that perfect shot.
In or Out?
I was on a golf team in high school. We would finish school early and rush out to the golf course and play a quick round of golf. While we were playing, we would get very competitive amongst each other yet joking around and making each other mess up too. We did whatever we did to win, we just couldn’t make noise or make quick movements during their backswing to keep it fair…but we could do and say anything else. One of the most effective ways to mess up with our opponents’ mental focus was to ask this simple question. Have you done this before? You ask your opponent, right before the swing…hey man…just wondering, do you breathe in? Or do you breathe out during your swing? Hahaha!! This question subconsciously messes with their mind as they are trying to figure out what their breathing is doing. This result in a missed shot, as they are focusing more on trying to pay attention to their breathing rather than their swing.
Well, if I knew then what I know now, I would have a very quick answer for them. So, let me breakdown my own breathing exercise on the golf course that really helps me focus and helps me hit my best shot when it comes to fight or flight situation. You don’t have to do exactly what I do, but I hope that you take away some fundamentals here of what breathing can do and develop your own habit during your pre-shot routine and get your mind and body focused for what’s to come. Ready?
Put the Oxygen Back into Your Body?
Stand behind the ball during your pre-shot routine and take a deep breath. Deep inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Feel the tension and stress leaving your body. Some people keep their eyes closed and visualize their shot while doing this. For me, I just keep my eyes open and focused on my target. I take another slow inhale and walk to my ball.
Find Your Own Sweet Spot?
But if you really want to control your swing to the end, you need to get out on the driving range and spend some time experimenting with your breathing. David Leadbetter, one of the most well known legendary golf instructor teaches people to inhale on the backswing and exhale on the downswing, creating a rhythmic and tempo to your swing. Me? I personally inhale as I walk to the ball, exhale slowly as I am setting up, inhale again and hold it as I take the club back, then exhale after the downswing. So technically, during my actual swing, I am holding my breath.
So, which is best for you? Let’s talk to the sniper. In order to accurately hit the target with full focus and steady aim, there are 3 known breathing methods that the snipers use.
- Inhale and Pause: Inhale until your lungs about the half-full, pause and pull the trigger.
- Exhale and Pause: Similar to Inhale and Pause, take in a deep breath, exhale a portion, then pause and pull the trigger.
- Full Exhale: Fully let your breath out until the end. Pause and pull the trigger.
The key here is to find your own sweet spot. Try different methods to see what’s most comfortable for you. This way, if someone is messing with your mind during a round and ask you if you are breathing in or breathing out during your swing, you can confidently tell them exactly what you are doing. Hahaha! It’s will mess up their mind.
Make it a Part of Your Routine for Every Shot
Okay…breathing is important. It’s so important that you need to make this part of your habit on every shot, every chip, every putt. Add breathing to your pre-shot routine. It will change everything.
You didn’t know we could take an entire episode to talk about breathing, right? I mean, who thinks about that? But we all should. There are some hardcore yoga peeps out there that say it will change your life. I am going to have to agree. Breathing is everything…if you don’t agree, just stop doing it for a while…you’ll change your mind. So, let’s implement this into our game to help us play better golf! Let’s do this!!
Just to quickly summarize. Number 1, we need to replenish oxygen back into our body…this will prepare our body and mind to perform our best. Number 2, there are different ways to do this, figure out which way is best for you. (Inhale and pause, exhale and pause, full exhale or unconscious breathing…not paying attention at all). And Number 3, make it part of your every shot. Don’t forget to intentionally breathe.
Hey, you know I always say there’s a lot of parallels from golf to life? Well, here’s another thing, when you are in a fight or flight situation in life, breath…it will help you slow down your heartbeat, it will help you slow down your breathing, it will help your stress level down, it will help you focus and most importantly, it will help you not say stupid things that you’ll need to apologize for later.
I hope this was helpful to you. I really enjoyed doing this episode. I think it’s because I believe in it so much and I truly believe it can help reshape our game for the better. But, as always, thank you so much for listening to Better Golf Academy Podcast, love you guys and have a great week!