Sports & Games

Simone Biles’s 5 Essential Breathing Techniques for Maintaining Focus and Concentration in Gymnastics Exercises

Written by MasterClass

Sep 4, 2019 • 2 min read

Like most sports, gymnastics has a significant mental component. The more advanced you are, the higher the pressure. The skills are more complex (and far more dangerous), the stakes are higher, and there are more eyes on you in the audience. You also have only one chance to perform your complex routines. Mindset can make or break a performance, which is why it’s important to take some time out and focus on your breathing.

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Simone Biles Teaches Gymnastics FundamentalsSimone Biles Teaches Gymnastics Fundamentals

Gold-winning Olympic gymnast Simone Biles teaches her training techniques—from beginner to advanced—so you can practice like a champion.

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5 Gymnastics Breathing Techniques

Here are a few breathing techniques to start training your brain and body to do what you need them to do.

  1. Deep breathing. A simple way to calm your body and mind is to breathe deeply and slowly. Inhale for a count of five, pause, and exhale for a count of five. As you breathe, try to relax your jaw and forehead, allow your shoulders to drop, and release any tension in your back or belly. Practice for a few minutes or until you feel centered.
  2. Belly breathing. Diaphragmatic or belly breathing slows your heartbeat and can lower blood pressure. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Take a deep inhale through your nose—the hand on your belly will sense your stomach expanding. Tighten the muscles in your abdomen as you exhale through your mouth. Practice for five to ten minutes, or aim for a certain number of complete breaths.
  3. Extend your exhale. If you’re nervous, try making your exhale twice as long as your inhale. Inhale for a count of four and then exhale for a count of eight.
  4. Synced breathing. Slowly lift your arms as you inhale. When you exhale, lower your arms. Repeat. The movement should be in sync with the breath in a relaxed and easy manner.
  5. Spot focus. This exercise is also a breathing technique that will help hone your concentration skills. Sitting with your spine straight, shift your attention to the movement of the breath. Choose a part of the body that is easy to sense—it can be the movement of the belly, the rise and fall of the chest, or even the feeling of the air as it passes through the tip of the nose. Then really focus on this one part of the body. Set a timer for a few minutes. Whenever your attention wanders, refocus your attention on that part of the body. With time, you’ll find that your attention wanders less often and your power of concentration is sharper.

Want to Become a Better Athlete?

Whether you’re just starting out on the floor or dreaming big about going professional, gymnastics is as challenging as it is rewarding. At 22, Simone Biles is already a gymnastics legend. With 14 medals, including 10 gold, Simone is the most decorated World Championship American gymnast of all time. In her MasterClass on gymnastics fundamentals, Simone breaks down her techniques for the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor. Learn how to perform under pressure, practice like a champion, and claim your competitive edge.

Want to become a better athlete? From training regimens to mental preparedness, learn everything you need to enhance your athletic abilities with the MasterClass All-Access Pass. Gain exclusive access to video lessons taught by world champions, including Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles, World No. 1-ranking tennis player Serena Williams, and six-time NBA All-Star Stephen Curry.

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