article by sports psychotherapist and performance consultant, Dr. Keith Wilson, about performance anxiety in youth sports. Wilson says that in order to help young athletes manage the nerves and stress associated with competition, we can teach them to use certain breathing techniques that will help them relax on the field.
Nervous players add to their own stress level by taking shorter breaths. Less oxygen enters the blood stream. More carbon dioxide stays in. This leads to fatigued, tense muscles. Tension slows down movement. The end result is a breakdown of proper mechanics. The pitcher cannot throw strikes. The batter swings late - if he swings at all.
Taking a deep breath and exhaling with a purpose before the pitch is thrown will relax the player and make him more comfortable. Comfort leads to confidence. The player is quick and mechanically sound. Success is more likely and the experience is more enjoyable.