Breathe like a trombone player

Ed Britton, PGA of America -

Golf is hard. In no other sport do you see even the best ever make what seems like many mistakes and miss the cut. We’ve all been there: everything is set up perfectly, warm up, practice swing, aim, and PUSH into a mess. Anguish! Anger! Why me? Where’s that ball? Still gritting your teeth, you find the ball, check the target, whack at it, and miss it again. More anguish and anger, ugh!

Karl Morris, PGA mind coach from the UK, describes part of the pre and post shot routine as mentally being in neutral. Meaning once you commit to your swing the ball may hit your target or hit a tree; we should get into the mindset that we’re going to accept the result of the shot, the good with the bad. That’s one of the reasons golf is hard, but we can learn to control and lower the stress by practicing techniques from some of the best…not all are golfers! The key is to keep getting oxygen to your muscles, and deep diaphragm breathing is proven to be the most efficient method.

Much like well-trained athletes, brass instrument musicians rely on proper breath control to function at a high level. A great technique comes to us from Edward Klienhammer of the Chicago Symphony who wrote about breath control in 1963 and continued to lecture on the subject internationally until his death. He recommended the best way to isolate the muscles used in deep breathing is to lie on the floor and let your entire body go as limp as possible. Then feel which muscles you’re using during the process of deep breathing. These are the muscles we should feel while playing as the others simply cause tension. He found tension could be reduced by commanding relaxation through breathing. An example of breathing practice is to slowly inhale through the nose to a count of four, and exhale from the mouth for the same count. Practice this as much as you can; the most obvious time for golf is while walking (even when you’re not on the golf course), in for four steps out for four steps.

Add being aware of your breathing as part of your pre-shot routine, you’ll find proper breath control can do wonders to improve those stressful golf shots (and putts).