I am certain that you are playing the game to be successful. Of course no one is out there just to be out there or at least I hope not. If you have been at this for a while, you realize that there are many components to success but one of the ones that I think most don’t give much thought to is the mental aspect. In this article, I will discuss a component to the mental part of the game and that is rehearsing success.
Several years ago, a video surfaced of then New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees going through a whole 80 yard, multiple play drive by himself on the field the day before a game. For many, this may have seemed weird but for me, I totally understood the process. I am sure we all dream about success in the upcoming game but just how much and how organized are those dreams? Is just dreaming about it enough?
Ask anyone who has reached elite status in their chosen endeavor and they will tell you that they had a strong conviction in their belief that they would one day be where they are now. However, as I like to say, the devil is in the details. It’s one thing to do all the prep work like watch film, take notes in the meeting, pay attention during the walk throughs and be focused during the practice sessions. Those things are the bare minimum for the entire defensive unit to have success. What will take you to the next level though?
Just like actors on stage who go out and give you a great performance when you attend the show, you must rehearse success. I am not insisting that you go out and run through a 10 play drive like Drew Brees but I am not saying you shouldn’t either. Falling short of doing that, I am telling you to have some intent with your dreams.
During my senior year in high school, I was chosen for the Riverside County (California) All Star Game. This was big for me. I did not do much during my junior season but I did manage to have an outstanding senior year. This All Star game was going to be my cherry on top. This would be my chance to prove that I was no fluke and that I deserved to be among the greats. When my father would go off to work and I had the house to myself, it was rehearsal time. I saw myself catching the kickoffs and running through the would be tacklers. I faked out the living room couch, shook the kitchen table, darted by the dining room chairs I set up and broke into the open field. I saw myself catching interceptions and sprinting down the hallway, also known as the sidelines. I did this for a solid three weeks before the game.
Finally the game came and I was on stage. I played on offense and had three long catches, one for a touchdown. I had two 40+ yard kick off returns. I had an interception with a 35 yard return where I darted by some would be tacklers. Just for kicks, I had a big hit in the end zone to break up a pass. In a game featuring the best of the best in the county, I walked away with the MVP. This came as no shock to me. That probably sounds totally arrogant but the truth is that I rehearsed all of this. If I was allowed to give a speech I would have thanked the living room couch, the kitchen table and the dining room chairs amongst others. I rehearsed the success that I wanted to achieve and subconsciously, my mind knew what to do when the moment came.
I took this practice with me into my college football career. Every Friday night, I would play out what I wanted to have happen on Saturday. When I turned my playing career into a coaching career, I impressed this upon my players. Preparation is the key to success and part of that success is intentionally, actively and with great focus, play out what you want to have happen. Try it and watch how your mind takes over when the moments come.
Chad Wilson is the owner of All Eyes DB Camp and author of "101 DB Tips". He played college football at the University of Miami and briefly in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks. Over his 15 year high school football coaching career, he tutored over a dozen Division I defensive backs and as a trainer has worked with NFL All Pros, first round draft picks, college football All Americans and Top 10 ranked high school football prospects.