A BREATHING coach who has worked with the Golden State Warriors and Navy Seals has been added to the Brisbane Lions' support staff for the 2022 season.
Known as 'The Athlete Whisperer' in sports circles, Rachel Vickery, who has also worked closely with NRL teams Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters, will be focusing on improving Lions players' breathing as a means to combat fatigue and stress in big moments.
Lions coach Chris Fagan this week told AFL.com.au that the employment of Vickery was a "one-percenter".
"One of the learnings over the years is that in the big, pressure games, there have probably been moments where we haven't been able to keep our composure," Fagan said.
"You can wait for finals games experience to rub off on the players or you can try and give them a few tools to help them in those tough periods. We have engaged in a breathing coach in this year.
"Part of it is being able to control your emotions and your breathing in those pressure moments, but also being able to control your breathing throughout a game so that you have more energy left at the end.
"There is enough evidence around the place that if you do your breathing properly that that can be one of the fringe benefits. It is a one-percenter.
"Rachel has had a lot of experience with teams, and she also worked with Navy Seals, and high-level military groups who have to work under pressure all the time. I'm not sure that all of our boys will embrace everything she says, but we do these things hoping maybe half the group will and that will help us going forward.
"Certainly the players have got a lot of out of it and I can see at training they are trying to do it. It is not a group thing, it is an individual thing, and hopefully it might be able to help in some of those moments."
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Fagan said high-end breathing techniques could assist a player in every aspect of football.
"We have seen many players take a shot for goal when exhausted and they fail to kick the goal because of fatigue so hopefully it can help in that situation," he said.
"Our game stops a lot. Centre bounces, stoppages. There is opportunity all the way through to use those techniques to help with concentration and energy."
Fagan said he would be using techniques taught by Vickery to assist with all aspects of his coaching in 2022.
"When I'm at home or down the park doing a few waddle-throughs, I practise it, and it is no different for coaches because you find yourself in games getting emotionally involved," Fagan said.
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"It is just a breathing technique you use to bring you back to being under control and to think clearly. I will probably use it more once we start playing games but I find myself using it in my own exercise and in those moments at work where I might be getting a little bit hot under the collar about something. Again, it is like any skill, you have to practise it, and use it in situations to get better at it."