Soccer is a fast-paced game; therefore, it is essential that players are capable of breathing while playing soccer.
Usually, during the peak of soccer, especially when the temperatures are falling, soccer players often experience breath shortness while playing games or sometimes even after games.
Sometimes a brief pause from the game’s action or taking a little water usually helps players catch their breath in the game.
Shortness of breath is a common problem that every soccer player faces while on the pitch. If a soccer player cannot breathe correctly in the game, they would be unable to keep up with his teammates and usually have low stamina.
For such reason, soccer players are trained to be able to breathe while playing soccer properly. However, any soccer player suffering from the above symptoms is expected to see their doctor.
- Why can’t I breathe when I play soccer?
- How to breathe while playing soccer?
Why can’t I breathe when I play soccer?
Soccer is a game that is played for more than 90 minutes. And for the most part, soccer players would have to run around the field for the duration of the game. Soccer players run between 7 to 9 miles for each game.
Often you would find soccer players gasping for breath while playing or standing still to take a little breather. This is a result of the continuous running that is associated with the fast-paced game.
There are a lot of reasons why soccer players cannot breathe when playing the game of soccer. It could be a result of low stamina or endurance or a result of medical problems like asthma, exercise-induced constriction, or exercise-induced obstructions.
In the following sections, you will be shown various reasons why soccer players are unable to breathe while playing soccer.
Exercise-induced Laryngeal Obstruction (EILO)
It is also Exercise-induced asthma. Exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction or EILO is a condition that is not common and usually affects how much air that players inhale.
This condition is prevalent among young soccer players and athletes, and most times, it is often misdiagnosed as asthma.
Exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction is also called a vocal cord dysfunction (VCD). The exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction occurs when a malfunction occurs on the minute muscles located at the top of the larynx.
These minute muscles usually close whenever you swallow on a typical day, but otherwise, they always remain open. While exercising, they open further.
When a person has an exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction, these muscles will close up whenever the player inhales, and this would result in the inability of air to effectively enter the lungs.
The player would feel like inhaling through a straw and have the feeling of suffocating. The struggle to breathe usually makes a harsh sawing sound.
Though exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction usually seems like asthma, the restriction occurs in the throat and not in the chest with little to no changes in the level of oxygen.
The symptoms usually stop within five minutes of the exertion. However, the exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction is quite terrifying and usually prevents players and athletes from adequately participating in soccer or any sport.
The exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction is more frequent in adolescent girls but also affects adults and boys altogether.
Exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction is widespread among young athletes.
Though exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction is not known to be expected, research shows that it is pretty widespread in about 5 to 7 percent of all adolescents. The figure is against the 8 percent who are known to have asthma.
Another reason that makes soccer players unable to breathe in soccer is as a result of low stamina and endurance. Soccer is a sport that needs good physical quality.
Every player constantly runs around the pitch in soccer, either shooting the ball, passing, defending, or attacking. However, it is not common for a soccer player to walk around the pitch.
Building up stamina or endurance ensures that you are not out of breath or have difficulties breathing just 10 minutes into the game.
Soccer is a fast-paced sport and a very active sport. However, there are some players that can run very well around the pitch without difficulty breathing, such as Luka Modric from Croatia, N’golo Kante from France, and Germany’s Toni Kross.
All these players might seem like they are running on fuel as they usually seem tireless and can be found everywhere on the field. However, what is essential is that they are elite soccer players.
Though there are other things to soccer than running, having good stamina and endurance is vital in soccer since it would allow every player to be able to play for the duration of the game without feeling much out of breath.
Every soccer player with good stamina and endurance can benefit his team by being able to cover the whole field and not being short on breath and makes it harder for the opposition to score.
Having good stamina means that you can win about half of every ball, which would ensure that your team would have a majority of the ball possession. Having majority ball possession usually leads to winning games and the championship in the long run.
Having good stamina equates to being a key to making correct decisions and having a clear mind. As a result, you would not be tired easily.
Having low stamina makes a soccer player tired quickly, and it gets to a point in the game where the player would be unable to make good decisions or even implement his decision because of the weak endurance.
Usually, every soccer player is already tired around the 80th minute of a soccer game. Therefore, having great stamina or endurance would ensure that you step up your game during such times.
Playing soccer needs a lot of strength from the body, and oftentimes it would affect your breathing if your power is low.
Having low endurance or having your energy run very fast would make you unable to perform to the best of your capability. Activities like running around the pitch, making technical decisions, passing, or even dribbling would become impaired.
Exercise-induced Airway Constriction (EIA)
Another factor that affects players’ ability to breathe in a game is Exercise-induced airway constriction (EIA). Exercise-induced airway constriction is usually caused by the lack of water or air or from both in the lungs of a player when playing soccer or during exercises.
Exercise-induced airway constriction occurs when players or athletes breathe in air that is drier than what is inside their bodies.
Though about 20 percent of the world population suffers from Exercise-induced airway constriction, it is prevalent among soccer players and athletes.
Symptoms of Exercise-induced airway constriction include breath shortness, sore throat, cough, wheezing, and chest tightness.
Exercise-induced airway constriction usually occurs around 6 to 10 minutes after running or exercising and would peak at approximately 8 to 15 minutes. Exercise-induced airway constriction is typically short and ends within an hour.
Soccer players can determine if they have Exercise-induced airway constriction by seeking advice from an allergist. Allergists can determine the source of the symptoms either from running around the field, reactions to air allergens, or exercising.
The allergist would explore the player’s physical activities and determine the best method of treatment based on the number of the attack.
The symptoms of exercise-induced airway constriction usually worsen or increase based on the weather’s coldness. Therefore it is essential that the player seek medical advice as soon as possible.
The Exercise-induced airway constriction can be treated by performing exercise challenge procedures where the player is monitored while practicing, exercising, or running.
While the test is ongoing, the player would breathe into a tube that is connected to a spirometer. A spirometer is a tool used for measuring the volume of air the player exhaled or inhaled.
The physician would also perform a pulmonary function test to measure lung health. When diagnosed, the player would be given various strategies or given medications that would lessen the symptoms and enable the player to breathe appropriately.
Exercise-induced airway constriction can also be reduced by warming up before every game or training or performing physical activity. For example, soccer players are advised to breathe through their nose while running as this enables the air to be warm before it reaches the lung.
How to breathe while playing soccer?
Typically, breathing is automatic, but breathing can become erratic when you start running or performing exercises. While running, many people usually perform breathing patterns that are performance-wrecking and unhealthy.
Sometimes a player could breathe too fast or even hold his breath for long durations and puff and huff at variable rates.
While playing soccer or performing any sports, the air is the fuel used, and you need to have a lot of it. So for a soccer player’s muscles and body to retain air, he needs to learn the proper way to breathe while playing and running during the game.
Regardless of every soccer player’s physical disposition and natural inclination, there are various methods that can be used to breathe while playing soccer. Here are some of them.
One easy way to breathe while playing soccer is through the mouth. Since it is possible to take in air through the mouth, most soccer players and runners usually breathe through their mouths.
Experts advise that players should look at their breathing passage like a straw. The nose is capable of inhaling a certain amount of air since the path is narrow.
Breathing through the mouth would allow you to have more air in your lungs. This is because it will enable the player to access Deep Belly breathing instead of shallow chest breathing.
Breathing through the nose usually leads to tightening of facial muscles and clenched jaws since soccer players need their energy to work on their muscles and not their face. Breathing through the mouth ensures that this does not happen.
Deep belly breathing through the mouth and relaxed jaw is encouraged for every player. Soccer players exhale and inhale, similar to a rhythmic cadence that circulates or filters the air out and in.
Using your Lungs Properly
To breathe correctly in every soccer game, a soccer player has to enroll in breathing training programs where they are taught to improve their respiratory system strength.
Like performing biceps curls in the gym, soccer players can use various breathing trainers to include resistance to their breathings.
To boost performance, soccer players can make use of the training device to inhale and exhale as fast as possible over 3 to 4 seconds.
Performance on the pitch can be boosted when you inhale air with training devices as fast as possible in 3 to 4-second durations.
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In soccer, it is paramount that every person performs at their best. The body already has everything that is needed to work on the pitch.
Most people think that breathing has no way to affect our endurance and performance on the pitch. But it does because if you didn’t breathe properly, you would be unable to play the game for long.
Breathing through the nose is the natural way to breathe in a game. As a soccer player, whether you play amateur, professionally, or competitively, Breathing through the nose is capable of helping you play for longer and harder.
Breathing through the nose ensures that you are able to run faster and kick the ball harder with little effort. Breathing through your nose also ensures that your body delivers suitable oxygen to your muscles and blood at the utmost efficiency.
The reason for this is that breathing through the nose increases the ability of your body to take and regulate oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Breathing through the nose when running, playing games, or performing physical exercises results in requiring less blood to oxygenate the body. This would ensure that the player can kick the ball faster and run more quickly with little effort than needed.
It also ensures that your body is correctly regulated while you are playing since the nose is your body’s natural conditioner.
The bronchial tubes and the nose are very sensitive to the temperature and humidity of the air you breathe. Therefore, taking in air through the mouth ensures that there is no barrier between your body and the particles that are abundant in the air.
On the other hand, the nose performs the function of a purifying system that humidifies, moistens, and warms the air that you breathe. The nose can also filter out every particle, germs, and bacteria in the air.
This ensures that your nose helps in conquering high pollen counts while you play during the summer and spring months; no congestion or sneezing while playing an important game.
Nasal breathing also ensures that you can stay at your peak state while resting your body.
Breathing with your Diaphragm
While running, the muscles of your neck, shoulders, and back often tighten, leading to shallow breaths that originate from the chest.
This is the opposite of deep breathing, which originates from the diaphragm, muscles separating the chest from the abdomen.
Deep belly breathing is a method of breathing that increases the amount of oxygen that goes into the player’s lungs. This helps the player run faster since he would have more fuel to work efficiently.
It is better when you aim to breathe deeply into your abdomen while focusing on keeping your upper body relaxed and your arms lost.
The stomach should contract and expand with every breath taken instead of only letting the chest rise and fall. It encourages deliberate and slow breathing, which usually prevents hyperventilation.
Ensure that you maintain proper running form while playing games. Your body should be kept stacked over the ribs, the ribs over the hips, and the hips should be over the foot, which lands on the floor.
Some experts do not recommend belly breathing because belly breathing and pushing in and out of the belly diaphragm and belly button usually lead to the rib cage’s flare. As a result, the hips would extend backward, which generally causes the player to lose his body alignment.
Players practicing diaphragmatic breathing while meditating should practice breathing in and out of their mouth with a steady rhythm every minute while running for 20 minutes.
You must have often seen soccer players bend down while on the pitch to catch their breath.
Sometimes this is even found to occur just 10 minutes into a 90 minutes game. You might think that this is funny, but this is one of the ways that soccer players are taught to catch their breath while playing.
Bending down is another effective way to reduce a player’s heart rate while on the pitch or during exercises.
When a player bends down and gasps for breath to recover, his heart rate would be brought down to 22 beats per minute. This is usually faster than standing still while trying to catch your breath.
This is why you see soccer players bending down to catch their breath or to breathe when playing a game. Soccer players do not bend down to breathe because they are tired; they bend down since it reduces their heart rate and helps them catch their breath.
As compared to breathing while standing, bending down to breathe decreases the heart rate faster. So while on the field, nasal breathing should be done in a bending position with your hands placed on your knees.
Ensure you inhale deeply and slowly through your nose; then, you exhale through your nose again.
This method of breathing should be practiced in the middle of games and ensure that your heart rate is kept under control.
Another way that soccer players can breathe while playing soccer is through patterned breathing.
While exercising, the body produces more carbon dioxide. Therefore it is essential that you exhale the carbon dioxide to ensure that the oxygen level in the body is balanced at a healthy level.
You inhale as long as you exhale, breathing out steadily and slowly instead of blowing out every air in your body.
You can also try to pace your breathing with every step. Your respiratory rhythms have to be based on the number of steps that you take.
You can inhale every two strides while exhaling with every other two strides. You have to keep a steady rhythm as it would allow the blood and the air to circulate at the right place. When your body is accustomed to this pace, it will become second nature to you.
You also have to take your level of exertion into account. The intensity of the run performed in every game dictates the pace that you exhale and inhale. If the intensity is high, you would need a lot of oxygen, requiring a fast breathing rate.
Ensure that you do not take short exhales and inhales. You have to make sure that they are more powerful and more prolonged.
Some soccer players only breathe naturally and let the breathing take its own course without being worried.
Though many have argued that when a player establishes a set rhythm or pattern to breathing, it is usually more efficient and lets the player in at his fastest pace, it all comes down to your choice.
Various soccer players usually try different methods of breathing in a soccer game since they could have different results. Therefore, it is important that the player experiment with various breathing techniques, select what is best for you, and then stick to it.
Another way that soccer players breathe while playing soccer is to breathe quietly. Though it is essential to breathe less often instead of taking rapid breaths, it is more beneficial to breathe quietly.
Taking deep breaths sometimes affects the intake of carbon dioxide patterns mentioned above.
While bending down, you should barely hear yourself breathing. Instead of taking loud, deep breaths, it is better you take quiet breaths to calm yourself down efficiently.
Every soccer player that plays soccer professionally or competitively has experienced that feeling of being out of breath.
Sometimes you would just put your hands on your knees with your brows covered with sweat while your lungs are struggling to get enough air as they can. Sometimes you might even stand on the sideline to recover before getting back into the game.
However, there are various ways that a soccer player can breathe adequately and even improve his lung capacity to expel or take in oxygen efficiently to increase pitch performance.
Soccer as a sport heavily relies on anaerobic energy. To perform better, you have to be able to bring out your body’s maximum ability to take in power quickly in a rapid burst of activity.
Following the methods listed above can prove to be very helpful in learning how to breathe during soccer games.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!