How much do you care about getting better? What types of sacrifice are you willing to make? For quarterbacks, there has to be a great sacrifice for a sustained period of time. That’s why there’s not many people that want to play the position. Not only do you need to physical attributes, but there comes a level of grit, perseverance, and mental toughness that is needed to have success. What are some things to aid in this process though? The life of a QB is a long road and sometimes a lonely road. Today, we want to give you 3 secrets in how you can increase your body and mind’s abilities performance to become the best QB you can be!
1. Train Hard, Then Sleep....A lot
For those that follow us closely, you know that we use a biopsychosocial model when it comes to training the position. We believe that there is much more that goes into increasing QB performance than going out to the field and getting your throws in. There’s a holistic approach that needs to be put in place for the QB to gradually increase their performance over time. One big pieces of this performance puzzle is sleep. We have given a lot of tips in the past of some parameters when it comes to good sleep. I’ll repeat those now.
- Sleep 8-9 hours
- Make sure you are sleeping between the hours of 10 PM to 2 AM
- Complete darkness in the room
- No screen time 2 hours before you go to bed
- No caffeine after 2 PM
- Make sure the temperature is cool, 68 degrees is preferable
Yes, this is all important to do, but now I want to give you a reason why it’s so important. In Matthew Walker’s book, “Why We Sleep”, he talks about sleep affects motor learning to a great degree. When a person is learning a new task, their brain is trying to process the strategy and pattern to do so in order to become more efficient with it. The example that he used was a pianist learning how to play the piano. Mistakes are made time after time. The person goes to practice the same song that they were playing the next day and bam, they can now play the song somehow. How did this happen? Well, Walker has proven that when people practice a new skill, and then receive adequate sleep that their brain will continue to process that skill and build the hard wiring necessary to be good at that skill the next day. Amazing, right? The only kicker here is that these deep neural connections happen when you get an adequate amount of sleep. He states that if a person is getting 6 hours of sleep or less per night, that their ability to learn new skills greatly decreases! So this means practice hard, sleep hard, and then get better! I highly suggest reading that book folks.
2. Meditate 10 Minutes A Day
I know, I know. You’re going to say “really Drew?” The first time someone told me I should meditate I gave the same response. I have been meditating for about 3 months now and since that time, have started researching the topic in depth. It’s AMAZING how much it has helped me over this time span and here are the benefits:
- Decreases pain and increases immune system capability
- Reduces Stress
- Increases Energy
- Provides a sense of calmness
- Reduces feelings of anger, anxiety, and confusion
Quarterbacks have to deal with a lot of pressure. That’s the nature of the position. The body and mind get extremely beat up during the process of increasing the physical ability to play and dealing with all the emotional strain that exists from both inside and outside influences. Meditation is a way for you to balance yourself better and it takes little effort. No, you don’t have to sit with your legs crossed with your finger touching your thumb. There’s an app called “Headspace” that gives a great introductory course on how to meditate. It’s great stuff! Check it out.
3. Identify Yourself
Recently, we had Head Coach Bill Whittemore on our podcast from Franklin Road Academy. It was a great conversation in which he talked in great depth about how the experiences he had as a youngster shaped the way that he coaches today. One great point that he made was that a lot of kids today are forced to play and compete for performance based outcomes. Whenever performance based outcomes are the primary driver of why a child plays a game, the will to play deteriorates over time because of the added pressure that builds up as the demand of the game gets higher. This was very true for all of us.
One exercise that he has had in place at Franklin Road Academy is the development of "The Shield." Players and coaches will sit down and draw out a shield and then split it into 4 sections. The sections will be categorized into:
- A memory that sticks out from the recent past that has shaped you
- A memory from childhood that stands out that has shaped you
- How you want people to view you from the public eye
- How you are behind closed doors in your personal life
This is great because they then share these very personal matters within the confinement of the locker room which builds great camaraderie within the base of the team. Each player gets any idea of what makes each other tick and can empathize with the issues that they deal with on a day to day basis. The fact that the coaches do this is very cool as well as it makes them vulnerable to the players.
Even if this is something that doesn't sound appealing to do publicly, still sit down and do this privately. Everyone needs to take a broad view of the experiences that have shaped them into the person you are today, as well as your own perception of yourself. If you are reading this, you are a human being. Human beings inevitably have deep feelings and emotions. If you have never dove deep into identifying who you are then you are doing yourself a great disservice. For some, this is going to take a huge weight off of your shoulders. I know it did for me.
I hope y'all enjoy today's 3 secrets for human performance! It's not always about training and throwing the football. These environmental type secrets will make all the difference in the world when supplemented with everything else. Don't forget to join us for camp in a week and a half in Indianapolis! The link is below!
- Drew Kiel PT, DPT, CSCS