Relaxation is of great importance to any athlete striving for peak performance. Relaxation skills can help athletes reduce mental (self-doubts, worry, etc.) and physical anxiety (nausea, shaking, etc.), while increasing concentration and performance. Relaxation techniques can be used prior to competition or, if practiced enough, during competition. There are many techniques for keeping cool prior to and during competition. Breath controlled relaxation, mantra meditation, and blank meditation tools are used for controlling nervousness/anxiety.
Breath controlled relaxation is a technique that requires practice to learn properly. It can help with both mental and physical anxiety. Begin by practicing once a day for 15-20 minutes at a time. Assume a lying or sitting position in a quiet place that is free from distractions. Practice involves four steps and approximately 17-20 minutes to complete the entire technique. The four steps include:
1. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. For the next 2-3 minutes, remain focused on the rise and fall of your chest. Notice that your breathing is calm and steady.
2. Next, focus your attention on the sound of your breathing. As you relax more your breathing will get louder. Keep it calm and steady for 2-3 minutes. Be sure to stay relaxed as you listen to your breathing.
3. Now allow your chest muscles to relax every time you exhale. Also, allow your chest muscles to fall deeper and deeper within you on each exhalation. Remember to keep your breathing calm and steady. Continue to relax in this manner for 3-4 minutes.
4. With your chest muscles completely relaxed and resting deep within you, listen to your breathing. Now continue to relax for approximately 10 minutes. Then count down from 5-1 and open your eyes on 1.
The above text comes from an article on SelfHelp Magazine by Michael Bohnstengel. Bohnstengel goes on to discuss practical techniques that you can employ including at least three meditation techniques. Here’s the link to the full article.