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Every Breath Matters

Sometimes you learn things when you least expect it. I had one of those moments this week.

A few weeks back I was with Todd, Drew Brees, and Darren Sproles during their last day of workouts before reporting to training camp back in New Orleans. We were talking about the British Open that occurred over the weekend and Drew brought up what the commentators said about eventual Open champion Phil Mickelson. What they were talking about was something that you would probably never hear during a sporting event. The comment they made about Mickelson was about how precisely consistent every step and breath that he took was exactly the same. They also mentioned that golfer Tom Watson didn’t win a tournament until he learned to control his breathing.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how consistency and controlling nerves plays a huge part in sports. As a hockey player I can attest that there is a fine line between getting too hyped for a game, and not getting hyped enough; both of which can affect your breathing and performance. There is a happy medium that every athlete knows works for them and in the most important moments of a game controlling nerves by consistently controlling your breath can determine whether your team wins or not. Every breath matters.

There are so many examples in sports where consistency is evident in players actions. Sometimes we don’t even notice because they happen so many times during a game. Batters in baseball literally redo their gloves after every pitch, even after one’s they didn’t swing at, using the time to take a deep breath before the next pitch. Kickers in football take the same exact steps before kicking a field goal and take a deep breath before the snap. Basketball players have the same routine before every foul shot… and take a deep breath before shooting. Before every play Drew takes the same exact steps from the moment he breaks the huddle to the line of scrimmage, licks both hands, and yes I’m going to say it again – TAKES A DEEP BREATH – before snapping the ball. Every breath matters.

Athletes are creatures of habit and the best athletes are the best at maintaining habits… even when we may view their actions as boarder-line OCD. Athletes are going to repeat these habits especially when they have successful results. Performing in-game rituals to stay consistent and learning to control breathing can be the mental edge to give an athlete the confidence they need to perform their absolute best.

One thing that I have discovered this summer is that we can learn a lot from professional athletes; and the lessons have not been all about physical fitness. They have had to learn to perform mentally and physically at the highest level IN THE WORLD at their sport. They had moments in their athletic careers that have defined them and learning to control nerves and learning to breathe in those moments could have been the difference between a career in the pros or not. See what I mean? EVERY BREATH MATTERS.

Todd dropped a knowledge bomb on us during the session and said that as humans we breathe 18-22 THOUSAND times per day. Why do I say that every breath matters then? Because very much like the pros, we have moments in our lives that define who we are. In these moments something as simple as TAKING A DEEP BREATH can be the difference in how we handle these situations.

Take some time to notice the power of breathing and how we can use it to connect with ourselves. When we’re alone, at work, at school, or in the gym, take some time to breathe, connect, and refresh ourselves MENTALLY and PHYSICALLY.

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