As a former NFL linebacker, I get a lot of questions regarding the type of training I did as a player and about what a typical day looked like during an NFL season. People are generally surprised to hear that the majority of a player’s work day is spent on some mental aspect of the game (some need more work than others) and that only a small portion of the day is allotted for practicing or lifting weights.

footballmeditationAt the highest levels of sport, athletes have very little potential for physical improvement. In most cases, they have “maxed out” their genetic potential in a purely physical sense. Instead of continuing to “beat a dead horse” by overtraining their physical capacity, elite athletes have become early adopters of alternative methods of performance enhancement (I’m not talking about steroids or deer antlers…although those “alternative methods” are certainly the ones that garner most media attention). I’m talking about mental conditioning, breathing techniques, visualization and imagery, a host of eastern disciplines including yoga, tai chi, martial arts etc and many other techniques.

A typical day of work for an NFL player includes as many as five hours of just watching film. More than half of that time is dedicated to watching himself practice on a big screen with a coach breaking down, criticizing and perfecting every movement…the length and direction of each step…placement of the hands, knee bend, eyes…every detail. It is a humbling, but critical part of a player’s development. It isn’t good enough to be big, strong and fast. Attention to detail and degree of execution are what separate those who make it from those who don’t.

It basically comes down to this… You may have all of the physical attributes necessary for success or you may not, but you will never fully maximize your performance potential if you neglect the “non physical” aspects of your training.

ryan_edited-1Over the next several weeks, I will be introducing (reintroducing to some of you) some of the philosophies and methodologies of improving performance with which you may or may not be familiar and describing in some detail ways to implement and improve these areas. The Crossfit community does a good job exposing us to a fairly comprehensive health and fitness methodology. These topics only purpose to enhance what you already do. But the topics I will cover here need not apply exclusively to Crossfit. I hope you will find as I have that most, if not all aspects of your life can be improved with consistent integration of any or all of the techniques.

If you see me around, please let me know if you have questions or if you would like me to cover a specific topic or if you just want to tell me that I’m full of it. I’m the bald guy with a towel hanging from his shorts practicing some weird breathing technique, hanging upside down, or awkwardly bending and twisting in something that doesn’t so closely resemble yoga. If my eyes are closed, approach slowly and no one will get hurt.