How to Breathe While Playing Basketball

Basketball player lining up shot on court, side view, close up

Breathing is a natural function of the body, but it can be controlled to make it more effective for your body. Basketball has many facets: team playing, running, shooting, and keeping control of the ball, to name a few. It can be made harder if you are struggling for each breath rather than focusing on the game. It is possible to learn new breathing techniques and practice them while playing to become better at controlling this aspect of your basketball game as best as possible.

Learn how to incorporate deep breathing during stressful moments of the game. This type of breathing can be done prior to a game to calm your nerves, before shooting a free throw, or any other time that you begin to feel a shortness of breath from the pressure of the game. Begin by taking a few cleansing breaths where you inhale and exhale through your nose, and then move on to deeper breaths.

Breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of three. Feel your stomach balloon out slightly. Do not hold your breath, but pause slightly before beginning to exhale through your nose. Exhale slowly to a count of three, making sure that all of the air is out of your lungs. Close your eyes if appropriate, but make sure to keep them open if you are on the basketball court. Repeat at least three times to begin to feel more relaxed.

Practice deep breathing when you're off the court, too. For example, take five to 10 deep breaths while lying in bed or sitting on your couch at home. This helps to train you to take deep breaths more often, and also provides your diaphragm with extra strength that will help with endurance during your basketball games.

Warm up gradually before you begin playing basketball. This will help your breathing slowly increase rather than cause you to be out of breath all at once. Helpful warmup exercises include walking, stretching, shooting baskets and passing the ball with another player. Breathe in and out 30 times quickly before you begin playing to oxygenate your blood fully. This can help you from becoming short of breath during a game or practice.

Notice when your breathing becomes shallow during basketball practice or a game. It usually happens when you are running a lot or playing outdoors in colder weather. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth when this starts to happen, and take a few deep breaths as soon as possible to get more oxygen back into your system.


The same steps for better breathing during basketball can be used for many other sports and athletic events as well.


Be careful if you experience exercise-induced asthma while playing basketball. Make sure that you stop to rest or use an inhaler if your breathing begins to feel out of control. Seek emergency medical help if you have shortness of breath that does not go away after resting or if an inhaler does not work to relieve your symptoms.