Training Camp 2016

It’s the last week in July, and NFL teams are at Training Camp. Whether it is in Napa, California, East Rutherford, New Jersey or in any of the 30 other camps, there will be weeks of training, scrimmages, workouts, practice games, drills, meetings-­‐-­‐all to get the teams in winning condition for the 2016-­‐2017 NFL Season.

Each team can start training with about 90 players, but at the official beginning of the season, about 1 out of every 2 players goes home. This is the ultimate extreme sport in terms of competition! Think of it, competing in Pop Warner all the way to the pros, they are the best out of millions of players.

What are the coaches and the executives looking for from these gifted athletes? “Winners” is the correct answer. Whether you are one of these players, affiliated with sports or not, here are some of the attributes of a winner:

  1. Be 100% in. “All in” preparing for, and during the regular season.
  2. Set high goals every day (or ½ day for those “two-­‐a-­‐day” days) of training camp and during the regular season.
  3. It’s a team sport. Play like you know it.
  4. High discipline -­‐responsible for your mind and your body always.
  5. Integrity -­‐ doing what you said you would. It’s all on you. No blame.
  6. Highly motivated, no matter what comes at you.
  7. Release. Let your body and mind take a break so that they can rebuild for the next job you ask it to do.

To support you with #7, here is a little release. For fun, take this short quiz. Who starred in the following football movies?

(A) Remember the Titans, (B) Any Given Sunday, (C) Friday Night Lights. (D) The Blind Side, (E) Rudy, (F) Jerry Maguire

(F) Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding, Jr., (E) Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, (D) Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, (C) Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Britton, Mick Winchell, (B) Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, (A) Densel Washington

Mamba Out

Two nights ago, Kobe Bryant, renowned Los Angeles Lakers Basketball player, said goodbye to his fans all over the world from the Staples Center. He was happy. He had scored 60 points in his final game and rallied the Lakers to a 101-96 win in the final quarter—delivering a scorching record for his final performance. Then from center court immediately after the game, with a towel wrapped around his neck, mic in hand, and a bit out of breath, he said farewell.

The final sign off made a lasting impression: “Mamba Out”. Mamba was the nick name Kobe created for himself in the dark times in the early 2000’s. He had experienced his world falling apart which greatly impacted the ability to play up to his standards. He came up with the nickname to organize his thoughts and actions, and separate his personal world from his work world. He said that Kobe dealt with the personal challenges, and “The Black Mamba” handled business on the court. He had to find a way to focus his energies and concentrate on basketball, and not allow anything else to come into his mind while on the court. He did it. This takes courage, discipline and tenacity.

Mamba took himself out of the game and declared it all season long. He is only 37 years old, with many years ahead of him, so what is his long term game plan? I would imagine he has been thinking about what’s next for awhile, and it will be wonderful to see what Kobe uncovers for himself in the coming years. He actually talked about a concern he has about his schedule. He has had a rigid schedule for years. So now what? What schedule will he need to create? What will his days look like? I am certain Kobe will approach this concern as he has approached other challenges, and come up with a winning strategy.

What’s next for you? What is your short and long term plans? Most of the guys playing professional sports, do not spend time focusing on those questions. Most of the guys think they have plenty of time to do it. They are wrong. The average player will play NBA basketball for 5.6 years, (3.5 yrs in NFL, 5.5 yrs in the NHL, and 5.6 yrs in the MLB). Schedule out some time to dive into the questions and come up with some ideas. You can always use the off-season to put a plan into action. The point is to get started. Just like Kobe, I am sure you have the courage, discipline and tenacity to do it!!

Peyton Manning’s Retirement Speech

Peyton Manning, QB who led the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl 50 title, gave a heartfelt farewell speech last week. As happens with all public figures, especially in the sports world, his fans and his critics weighed in. I am a fan, and here are a few things I wanted to point out from his well-prepared speech about what it takes to be a GOAT (or at least close to one!) in your life.

Manning talked about his rookie year with the Colts and how difficult it was, but even in his first game he realized he could play in the league — he was good enough. That is where success starts, on or off the field/court. You have to stand for your success, even when you begin at something and especially when you lose at something!

He thanked those who helped him in the good and difficult years, “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). These are great words for our mentors and coaches to hear, but it is also valuable for our own self-talk. We tear ourselves down, when we should be building ourselves up.

Peyton loved the game. All those who do extraordinarily well, whether in sports or life, love what they do. Find what you love, set your course, and do everything that supports you in that aim.

“How are you going to scratch that competitive itch you have while playing?” Asked by a reporter, Manning responded that he will get great support and mentoring for his next phase. What mentor or coach do you work with? Do you have a coordinated team?

“I didn’t always throw or run perfectly, but no one could out-prepare me, so I have no regrets.”

Peyton is now done playing football, but he is very engaged in discovering what’s next. “Life is not shrinking for me, but morphing into a whole new world of possibilities.” Will he get in trouble and throw some interceptions in life? For sure. But I bet he will turn those setbacks into learning opportunities, to become better prepared, and to get closer to his goals.