The Daily Habits of an NFL Player
By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS
I’m not sure there is a time of year I enjoy more than right now. It’s the four-week window between the end of June and end of July when all the NFL athletes make their final preparations for the upcoming season. It’s the culmination of an off-season filled with training and OTAs (Organized Team Activities), when dreams of a championship really start to brew.
For me, it’s GO TIME. A “sprint” to get my guys ready physically and mentally for one of the more punishing sports on the planet.
And for every Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith or Chase Daniel who comes through the doors to prepare to win a championship, there are many athletes who are fighting to put food on the table. To earn a spot on a team. And to have a career in the NFL.
I have watched dozens of men work their tails off during this off-season and I’d like to share this inside glimpse into what these guys go through before leaving for training camp and the 2013 season:
1. Hard work and disciplined habits are crucial to success. The guys are training 5-days a week right now. Some days are double sessions. We have weight-room work, plus fieldwork where we do movement training and all football-related work. We integrate Pilates into their routines and add massage and bodywork to help with recovery 1 or 2 times a week.
2. Nutrition is critical! Some guys are trying to gain weight. Some guys are trying to lose weight. Every one of them must focus on eating clean, high-quality foods. Each has specific needs and unique tastes. We always finish our sessions with a recovery shake that is 2:1 carbs to proteins and each athlete has a specific supplement protocol they follow (some of the basic foundational ones I recommend are fish oils, multivitamin, BCAA’s, creatine, and glutamine). I advocate nutrient timing and encourage them to eat every 3 hours to take in highly nutritious whole foods full of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients.
3. Imbalances or weaknesses are corrected NOW. Heck, even these athletes can have weaknesses. That’s why we emphasize soft-tissue work before a session. That’s why we do a lot of flexibility work post-session. And it’s why we incorporate Pilates, yoga, and bodywork into their programs. We do a ton of uni-lateral work in the weight-room and emphasize the “back-side” of the body (the non-mirrored muscles!). But the message is the same for everyone who trains at FQ10: Fight imbalances to help stave-off injury and improve performance.
4. Environment counts. Right now, the energy at Fitness Quest 10 is electric. And while we pride ourselves on high-energy all the time, it turns up a few decibels in July. Think about it. Doesn’t environment and energy play a critical role in the quality of your sessions and training? The music, the people you train with or around, the pulse, the vibe, the clanking of iron… ahhh, it’s summer time!!! From 7-year olds to 87-year olds, to everyone in between, summer ratchets up the energy a few more notches for the Joes and the Pros. I LOVE IT!!!
5. Make the right CHOICES. Closely related to “environment,” the CHOICES made by each of my guys outside the gym go a long way toward determining the outcome of their hard work. Yes, where you train, who you train with, what you eat, when you eat and how you recover are key, but there’s more. Who you spend time with… who you socialize with… what you watch on TV… what you read… ALL of this counts and they know it.
6. GET YOUR MIND RIGHT. Some guys are stars in the League. Some guys are backups. Some guys are “bubble” guys. And some are still trying to hold onto the dream. Each one of them MUST HAVE A STEADFAST BELIEF in himself and in his dream.
7. Attention to DETAILS. If you ever saw Darren Sproles practice on the field, you would see him run 40 yards down the field after EVERY catch he makes. And this is in PRACTICE. Yes, I said “P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E!” He’s getting used to “YAC” yards (yards after the catch). And if you ever saw Drew Brees practicing his fieldwork in July, you would see him work his mental checklist on a continuous loop. Over and over… his checks, his reads, and different scenarios he will face. The best of the best athletes are meticulous with attention to details. They practice the details in every training session because the details pay dividends come game day.
8. FOCUS. The NFL athletes are zeroed in right now. Focused like thoroughbreds ready to run the Kentucky Derby (or Opening Day at Del Mar!!!). When you know what you NEED to do and WANT to do and you are intensely FOCUSED on achieving that dream, anything is possible.
9. Be humble… Be Hungry… The athletes who come to Fitness Quest 10 are humble. They set great examples, they are great role models for our kids, and they fit right into the positive culture in the Fitness Quest 10 DNA. These guys are also incredibly hungry and work their tails off to be the best they can be. It shows up in how they train, in how they practice, and how they play on Sundays. This is a combination that is unbeatable.
10. 1% Better Everyday. My late-friend Ken Sawyer lived by a mantra called “Do Better.” With the mindset and attitude for continual improvement, our athletes pursue excellence everyday.
It all comes down to “BEST PRACTICES.” I wanted to share some of the best practices I see from behind-the-scenes working with some of the best athletes in the world. But this list is not only for athletes. If YOU train and live with the same discipline, the same work ethic, and the same mindset, you WILL see great results. Not only in your physical conditioning, but in your entire LIFE as well.
Take a couple of these key points and implement them for yourself. They will be pay great dividends. And remember, when you are picking your fantasy teams this year, you can never go wrong picking a Fitness Quest 10 athlete!
Peace and love,