Summer is upon us and we have been getting many questions about how players should approach their Summers in order to reach peak performance. There’s no perfect plan that we can put in place for players, but there are a variety of ways that quarterbacks can improve their performance. Today, we are going to give 10 tips for improving performance from a physical, mental, and emotional standpoint so quarterbacks can go light up the scoreboard this Fall! Some of these will surprise you. Check it out!

1. Build Open Lines of Communication With Teammates

This is by far the most important thing to do in our world right now. Tensions are running high across cultures, races, and religions and a team can crumble if this tension carries over to the playing field. Many of you are thinking, “Well, how do I start this conversation?” We have talked to numerous people and most of them have said a genuine, “Hey, how are you doing through all this?” would be the perfect way to open this line of communication. There are going to be millions of different opinions, beliefs, and mindsets on a football team. This is what makes it so difficult at times for teams because personal opinions often times overtake the goals of the unit. As the quarterback, it is going to be your duty to lead from the front and break down these walls so your teammates can communicate with each other. We did a great podcast this past week where we had a panel of great coaches come together and talk about how to approach this topic for players and parents. You can check it out by clicking the link below!

2. Get Screened to Find Your Impairments

I feel like we are beating a dead horse with this one, but I will say it again! If there’s one thing that us Kiel brothers would do from the very start of our careers, it would be to get a movement screen from a professional that can tell us where our dysfunctions were as movers. This would have made things so much easier from a performance standpoint, but also would have saved us from many injuries that accumulated over the course of our careers. The truth of the matter is that 100% of you out there that are reading this have some sort of problem somewhere that is limiting your ability to get to reach your potential as a player. If you don’t seek out and find the exact problem, then it is a non-stop guessing game to try and make the problems better. Quit guessing players! If you are interested in our QB Performance Screen or Biomechanics Analysis, then please reach out now.

3. Become a Better Breather

One of the most overlooked aspects of performance is our ability to breathe properly. We can go weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without oxygen. Think about that for a minute. Isn’t breathing automatic though? Yes, it is to a certain extent. The problem is that the adaptations that take place in our bodies either due to chronic stress or lack of movement changes the patterns of breathing for most modern humans. This can lead to an inability to break down nutrients properly once they enter the body, lack of ability to recover from workouts, decreased VO2 max which decreases endurance and chronic tone of musculature such as the important hip flexors. (psoas) There’s an art to breathing correctly and it needs to be practiced.

By practicing using the diaphragm and breathing the right way, you will automatically increase performance greatly. Increasing breathing performance will literally improve every single area of performance that was listed but will also decrease anxiety, bring a greater sense of self, and create emotional stability. How could this get any better for a QB right? Check out the video below to see a video on “Buteyko Breathing.”

4. Meditate Often

This goes hand in hand with the breathing, but this is more of a mindful practice by combining thought as well. For those of you that have not meditated, I understand what you are thinking right now. I used to think the same way. Meditation is only for monks and crazy yoga people. I could not have been more wrong. Meditation puts your brain in a state of “theta” that allows you to dive deeper into more creativity and puts you in a better state of “Flow”. By tapping into your breath and following your breath, this makes you more mindful of your focus. By being able to direct your attention and literally control your thoughts, this allows for better ability to understand and know when your brain starts to wander. Have you ever thought about the advantages you could have by being able to focus longer on tasks than your opponent? This is definitely a competitive edge. Try this out! Headspace is a great app that is free.

5. Eat Vegetables With Every Meal

I sound like your mom right now don’t I? Get your vegetables. You’re not getting up from the table until you eat your vegetables. I get it and I never ate vegetables all that much either. I was literally robbing myself from so much performance though. The thing about vegetables is that they provide the brain and the body with specific micronutrients that your body needs to be able to run the right way. Without these, your systems don’t run as smoothly. Do you want to be big, fast and strong? Do you want to be able to think at a high level at all times? Well, this is an easy way to do that. One thing that we never realized is that you can make vegetables taste good by applying seasoning or even lemon juice to them as they are being cooked. For those of you that are out there that literally can’t stand vegetables, put them in a smoothie with fruit and some protein powder. You literally can’t taste kale or spinach that is in a smoothie. Game changer!

6. Get Your Protein

This is another one of those specific points that we preach on often. Most athletes do not get enough protein in their diets to help build and recover. The recommendation out there in the dietary guidelines is not taking into account the athletic population. As a general rule, 1 gram per pound of body weight will get you enough protein. If you weigh 150 pounds, then get 150 grams. This can be a lot for those of you that don’t track this. Track it sometime this week and see where you’re at. I bet you are falling a little short!

7. Train With Specificity

What is specificity and what do we mean by this? Training with specificity means that you are performing movements in the weight room that are specific to the movements on the field you need to perform in order to be successful. For quarterbacks, this means moving more in the lateral plane (frontal) or the rotational plane (transverse). There are so many common movements that are performed in the weight room that are not in these planes. Actually, about 90 percent of the exercises that you are probably performing don’t fall into these two planes of movement. Add more rotational movements such as med ball throws, landmine presses, chops and lifts. Also add more frontal plane movements such as medial broad jumps and cossack squats. This is essential for the quarterback. We have attached an example of what we are talking about below. Follow this video to our youtube channel where you can find a ton of videos of what we are talking about.

8. Recover Well

The Summer means more free time for all and that means staying out late for teens. I get it and I was there at one point. There’s a lot of exciting times out there as a teen and you don’t want to miss any of them. For those that want to perform high though, you will be willing to sacrifice some of these good times for heightened performance on the field when the Fall comes around. Kids from the ages of 10-18 need 9-10 hours of sleep per night in order to develop the body and mind to the highest potential. There’s no leeway on this according to studies. It’s also important for parents to understand that teens will want to stay up late and sleep in a bit. This is actually completely normal and part of the sleep stages that a human being will go through during their lifetime. Teens are known as “wolves” because they have a tendency to fall into this pattern of staying up later. If you stay up late, make sure you are sleeping in a bit to max out recovery. This doesn’t mean sleeping in so long that you miss breakfast or a workout though! Be mindful of this players. Sleep is up there with breathing practice when it comes to levels of importance.

9. Set Goals

We never did this when we were players and we always say that we wish we would have. Developing goals is extremely important for players to create habits that are needed in order to reach them. When we say goals, we don’t mean outcome based goals. Outcome based goals can cause anxiety and decrease desire to play the sport you love if you consistently don’t reach them. If you have a great year and get 2nd team all conference instead of 1st team, then that goal of being 1st team all conference is not reached. From a psychological standpoint, you start to shame yourself for not reaching these types of goals which can be detrimental. An example of a good goal to set would be: I’m going to spend 6 hours reading this week. Notice that performance was not talked about at all. Reading speed or number of pages read is not part of the goal. Performing the task is. This plays right into the idea of having a growth mindset vs closed mindset. If you have not read Carol Dweck’s work on mindset, I would strongly suggest doing so!

10. Read 4 Books

At the end of the day, leaders are readers and knowledge is power. These are two of my favorite quotes because it could not be more true. The act of picking up a book and reading it is something a lot of people don’t do these days. Reading makes you a better critical thinker, it gives you the skill of focusing your attention for longer periods, and it gets the creative brain going. Quarterbacks need this! Do you think you are just going to be able to one day memorize a  massive playbook or perform mental imagery of your plays by luck? Absolutely not! That’s why coaches want quarterbacks who have high GPA’s. It doesn’t matter about the grades as much as it does the mental processes that are being developed so this will have carry over to critical thinking capability and the ability to make split second decisions on the field. Quarterbacks must have a high functioning brain!

Guys, this is a lot and I know that most of you are not going to be able to do all of these this Summer. Here’s what I want you to do. Pick 4 of these. By picking 4, this means that you have to change just a little bit in your daily art of being a human being. Get off instagram. Get off video games. If you want to be a high level player, then do the work. The steps are given to you right here. Hope this post helps a lot of you out there! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or by call/text at 812-343-4226.

-Drew Kiel PT, DPT, CSCS