PUTTING FUNDAMENTALS – BREATH CONTROL
You can improve your putting stroke by learning proper breath control to give you greater stability and control during your putting stroke, helping you keep your head still and your putter steady and on line. Breath control is one of the key components of putting fundamentals. This putting tip will teach you three components of breath control during putting: how to breathe in a more relaxed rhythmic pattern, when to pause/hold your breath at the right moment, and when to release (exhale) your breath.
Recently, I’ve revisited the “how to” part of breath control during my putting stroke and the results are gratifying and measurable. Now that I understand more completely the rhythm and tempo of the breath, I realize that my timing used to be off on my exhale, and therefore, I didn’t reap the benefits of this easy to implement technique.
CONTROL YOUR BREATHING TO KEEP YOUR PUTTER STEADY
If you want to keep your putter steady and improve your putting stroke, you must control your breathing. As long as you are breathing your body is moving. The same fundamental concept goes with shooting a rifle at a target. It’s very difficult to hold the rifle steady if you are breathing. Knowing when to hold and release the breath is essential to a steady shot. The same goes for your putting stroke. If you want your putter to be steady throughout the stroke, then learning how to control your breathing is essential.
This is how I incorporate breath control for putting. Once you get into your final set-up stance and ready to take your stroke. Here are the steps;
- Take a relaxing first breath, inhale for three seconds and slowly exhale for three seconds, slow and steady, same tempo in and out. Eyes closed if you want. Think of the timing of a metronome – even back and even forward.
- Begin the inhale of your second breath while looking at the hole (target), slowly exhale while following the target line from the hole back to your golf ball.
- At the beginning of the third breath, inhale for the three seconds, then gently pause/hold the breath, bring your focus to the back of the ball, then begin your putting stroke, don’t release your breath until near the end of your follow through (after hitting the ball). The exhale should be at the same even tempo.
- Practice this without a ball. In fact, just practice the breathing part, whenever and wherever – at home or in your car. If three seconds is too long for you in the beginning, start with two seconds.
- I have found that the tempo is more important than the length of the breath, be it a count of two or a count of three. It’s important to note, that your inhale should not be a gasping deep filling breath, just a slow inhale at a steady pace, and the holding part is more like pausing… “waiting to exhale”.
Don’t just try this, practice it until it becomes established and you no longer have to think about doing it. When done in a timely manner, you will feel how still your head and body stay during your take-away. Your arms will feel like they are moving freely around a stabilized body (reducing the likelihood of movement and rotation).
If you don’t think you feel the difference, it’s because sometimes our senses fail us, but seeing is believing. I recommend that you show a friend this tip, discuss it, then sit and watch them practice it and vice versa. Compare their body movement using this technique and not using it, notice how still their head and body are and how well their putter stays on line. Have your friend watch you while you practice this technique, and/or take a video on your phone so you can see it for yourself. Seeing is believing!
I’m now a firm believer that the timing and control of your breath can improve your putting stroke and translate into more “circles than squares” on your scorecard, and I’m confident that you will have the same satisfying results!
Breath control will reduce putting anxiety and will breathe more consistency into your putting stroke and increase confidence in your game. Being proficient with the fundamentals of putting is as essential as having the right putter grip in your hands
Phillip A. Jaffe, PGA
PalmBird Putter Grips Founder & President