Circle Breathing is a method of deep breathing that is a commonly used relaxation technique within sports performance. This approach to develop performance is suitable to use when trying to achieve the optimum mental state for performance as well as controlling your emotions.

What Circle Breathing can be used for

Circle breathing can be used to:

  • Reduce levels of anxiety and stress (control level of arousal)
  • Regain focus
  • Remain calm in the face of potentially anger inducing situations
  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Relax and be calm
  • Helps to shut out feelings of self doubt

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Circle breathing can be used prior to competition or, during competition and even after competition. The ability to use this technique effectively in order to achieve the optimum mental state and control emotions is not something that can be implemented instantaneously, but must be developed through regular practice.

How to use Circle Breathing

  • To start with you will need a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. This could be at home in your bedroom.

  • To complete a circle breathe you should focus on the centre of your body (right behind your belly button) and start your breath from there. Slowly draw air in slowly through your nose, all the way up to your chest for a count of 4.

  • Hold the breath for a count of 2 before slowly exhaling through your mouth for a count of 4. After doing this you have completed 1 circle breath.

  • To achieve the desired state of relaxation complete between 5 - 10 circle breaths and each time you exhale let go of all tension and old energy and completely clear your mind, focusing only on your breathing

  • Practice this regularly (E.g.4 times a week) throughout the duration of your 6 week training programme.

  • Through practise it will take fewer circle breaths to achieved the relaxed state. By achieving the relaxed state using only 1-3 breaths you will be able to use this approach during your performance.

  • This could be used during a break in the action. In particular it would be useful to use it before you have to perform a certain skill within your performance.

Why use Circle Breathing

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Disadvantages (Limitations) of Circle Breathing

  • Some athletes may feel that the technique is so simple that they do not need to practice using it. Therefore when they try to use the technique in a very stressful situation the response to the deep breathing has not been trained and as a result it may not be effective.

  • Athletes might not fully buy in to the technique and how it can improve their performance. As a result they may not take the time to practice use of the technique.

  • Athlete who are not confident may feel silly or awkward using this technique in the practice environment.

  • In the heat of the moment athletes might not remember to use this technique – this is particularly likely to be the case if they have not practice using this approach and therefore don’t use it as a matter of habit to deal with stressful situations.

  • In some situations athlete might not have the time to use circle breathing. This is particularly the case when skills are performed where there is not a break in play.

  • Athletes may feel it is too simple and may not “buy into “ the approach.

  • Circle breathing will not improve an athletes ability effectively in an activity as it does not develop skills or tactical play. Circle breathing will only help an athlete to perform to the maximum of their potential when playing.