Coaching Tip - September 2011

    Regulate your breathing to improve your tennis game

    The skill of breathing while you play is often overlooked.

    The reason for breathing is somewhat obvious as we rely on breathing to survive.
    The efficient method of breathing is in through the nose and out through the mouth in the following manner

    • The nose heats up the air taken in and prepares it for the body
    • The nose hairs act as a filter to remove air pollution and create a turbine effect causing the air to circulate and go deeper into the lungs
    • By exhaling through the mouth the lungs are emptied completely allowing more oxygen to enter

    Most tennis players are so intent on moving to and hitting the ball that they hold their breath at the moment of contact finding that they are almost gasping for air.
    Players find that their muscles tighten and as a result the racquet head speed decelerates thereby diminishing the power of their stroke.
    Over recent times many mental training experts have promoted the exhale of breath on contact as an important tennis tool.

    Correct breathing in Tennis

    Breathing correctly is extremely important in Tennis so that the player is able to play loose and consistent throughout the entire match.
    The high pressure involved in playing a tough match or training session may result in the player losing control of their breathing techniques.
    Improper breathing or holding of the breath can

    • upset the fine muscle co-ordination necessary for tennis performance as a result of oxygen deficiency For example cramping
    • can also trigger emotional distress

    The correct breathing technique synchronized with hitting the ball

    • breathe in (inhale) through the nose as the ball is coming

    Should be slow and rhythmic from deep in the lower part of the stomach

    • breathe out (exhale) through the mouth on contact

    Should be deliberate and forceful

    Skills to practice


    • Breath in as the ball approaches
    • Breath out as you swing/contact


    • Inhale as you toss the ball in the air
    • Exhale as swing/make contact overhead

    These breathing skills need to be learnt and practiced at training sessions so that this technique becomes habit and happens naturally (muscle memory) for the player when under pressure

    The player will by synchronizing their breathing with hitting the ball learn to control their nerves and help them to play more relaxed and consistent during training and matches.

    I hope that you are able to use this skill to your advantage so that you can enjoy your matches and play to your ability and as a result get the results that you deserve.

    Tennis the game of a lifetime

    Contact me by Email if you have any comments or helpful Tennis hints.
    Let me know the things that work for you.

    Coach Steve