One of my very favorite questions to ask players during warm-ups of the Trickey-Wright QB-R Camps is “Who is the player you model your game after?” It’s fun to hear and see the various responses. A large majority of the players give a blank stare as if they’ve never really thought of the question before and then the wheels start to turn. You can see they want to respond but have not given the question much thought. They typically throw out a famous player who likely plays for their favorite team. But then I’ll get the rare player who with the snap of a finger answers the question confidently. You can tell they’ve not only thought about the question, they’ve taken action. They have strategically chosen a player that is similar in some way to them and have actively studied what makes them great.
My son Ben is almost two and loves to throw a ball. His favorite thing is to see how far and high he can throw it. Like most little kids, he stood with both feet on the ground and just used his arm to throw. But just recently he saw baseball on TV for the first time. He got super excited when the pitcher was throwing the ball because he recognized the pitcher was doing something he loved to do: throw a ball. I was so surprised to see Ben the next time he threw a ball. He lifted his left leg up in the air, twisted his body and then threw the ball. He had modeled his throwing motion after what he had seen the pitcher on TV do.
Although a simple little example, this is a great insight into how powerful watching, studying and imitating can be for an athlete. Great athletes have spent years practicing and perfecting their mechanics. What an incredible resource for an aspiring athlete. There is much to be gained emulating great players.
So here is the challenge. Think about the question: “Who is the player you model your game after?” Don’t answer it quickly. Take your time. Think about your body type, your natural skills on the field, how you play the game. Write them down. Then do some research. Who are the players in the NFL or college or even at your high school who have similar characteristics and have been successful? Identification may come right away or it may take some time. Be patient but persistent in finding the right player to model your game after.
So now that you have your guy(s), the fun and real value begins. You now have a model to study and emulate. Spend time watching him play. Watch him live. Look up highlight tapes on YouTube. Study his mechanics. Watch how he reacts to different circumstances in a game. Imitate and practice the movements he makes. If your player is an NFL player, there is an incredible resource online called NFL Game Pass. For $100 you get access to game film for every game since 2009, including the “all 22” coaches film. This is an awesome resource to dive deep into a study of your player and all the players at your position in the NFL.
One last related tip. Spend your Saturdays and Sundays watching football. Don’t just watch the game like the average fan. Spend your time learning and studying the game. Watch the strategy of the players and coaches. Begin to put yourself in their shoes and think through what they should do. The more time you spend role playing in this way, the more you will learn the ins and outs of the game. Then on gameday you’ll find yourself better equipped to handle the situations that come your way.