Chi-Power Golf Part 1 - Breathe to Win
The great Tom Watson once
said "When I learned how to breathe,
I learned how to win" - a statement
that provides a terrific insight into
the importance of correct breathing
as a means of maintaining an emotional
and physical balance.
Certainly, many golfers struggle
with this fundamental skill, which
means they are prey to the emotional
highs and lows of the game, simply
because they don't stay focused on
their breathing and, as a result, let
mental interference get in the way.
In this article I'm going to introduce
you to the ancient art of Chi
Kung - literally translated as breath
or energy work - and how it can help
improve your game.
What's this got to do with golf?
Well, many of you will have read
about the benefits of controlling your
breathing correctly (it receives a fair
amount of coverage as a part of the
"inner game") but the simple truth is,
unless you actually practise the discipline
on a regular basis, you will
never gain the many benefits it can
bring to your golf and life.
Yet, if you can incorporate it into
your weekly schedule, this basic Chi
Kung exercise will help you to develop
a greater awareness of your
mental state - fear, anticipation,
anger, excitement (all happening on
a golf course near you!) - and you'll
have the tools to take yourself back
to a more relaxed state, simple by focusing
on your breathing.
Chi Kung - the Practise of
• Stand in a natural posture, your feet
shoulder-width, toes pointing outwards just
slightly, your knees 'soft', your arms hanging
loose at your sides and your head as if
gently suspended from above. Allow your
eyes to gaze gently, a mile into the distance,
and relax your chest - but without
slouching or allowing your shoulders to roll
• Now, place your attention in your lower
abdomen, just below the navel, at a point
called the 'T'an Tien'. Allow yourself to
focus quietly on your breathing, silently repeating
"I am breathing in - I am breathing
out" while you inhale and exhale.
• Gently soften and relax more as you
stand with quiet awareness on your breathing
and try to maintain a calm and steady
focus on your centre-point.
The challenge is to hold your posture
and maintain awareness of your
breathing for at least 20 minutes (you
then repeat the exercise 3 times per
week). Clients who've made a commitment
to this simple practise have
reported many benefits, including
feeling more relaxed, recovering
more quickly from poor shots, a better
eye for the target, fewer swing
thoughts, better powers of visualisation
and so on.
So how can you incorporate this
technique into your own golf game?
Once you can comfortably stand
for 20 minutes (and it may well take
you several weeks to master this, as
at first 5 minutes will seem like a lifetime!),
you will start to gain greater
awareness of your mind and body
and can incorporate the learning into
the following swing drill.
Chi Kung Swing
• Stand at address and focus your mind on
your T'an Tien (your body's natural centre
of gravity, approx 2" below the navel).
• Take a few moments to relax and centre
yourself as you breathe. Keep your shoulders
down, your chest empty and relax your
• Breathe in while you move to the top of
your backswing, and then exhale all the way
through to your finish. Focus entirely on
your breathing and trust your swing.
• Try this drill 6 times "empty-handed" (i.e.
without holding a club) and then try it with
your favourite club and/or driver, but without
striking a ball.
• Note your feedback on a scale of 1-10 (1=poor, 10=excellent).
Score in the following
way for each drill:
#1 How focused were you on your breathing,
did you manage to empty your mind of
all other swing thoughts?
#2 How relaxed did you feel during your
#3 Did you notice a greater feeling of stability
throughout your swing?
Now step up to the ball and hit
shots while staying completely focused
on your breathing. Relax and
For more information please contact
Jayne Storey, PGA Approved
To learn more about Chi-Power Golf, visit www.chipowergolf.com where you can find out about personal tuition, talks and workshops, and also sign up for a free newsletter, "The Mindful Golfer".
To contact Jayne Storey, ring 07986 447250
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine