This past week I had opportunity to connect with my former coach Mark Dantonio (Michigan State Head Football Coach) regarding my days on the gridiron and the anticipation of the season. As we continued to reminisce, I reminded him that it has been nine years since I have played for my beloved Spartans. Whether your season has already started or is close to starting, here are five ways you can ensure a successful fall camp:
Always enter camp with a positive mindset. It doesn’t feel like I have been removed from the game of football for nine years, but as I look back, there were some opportunities/moments I wish I could have back to achieve my dreams and goals. Learn from mistakes and have the mindset that you will not be denied daily, and you will be surprised how your productivity levels will increase as you attack practice.
Fall camp provides an opportunity for a clean slate to prove to yourself, your coaches and teammates that you are the best of the best. When camp initially starts, everyone is crisp and flying around to the ball — but who will exude that same passion and energy on Day 15? It’s vitally important to remind yourself of what motivates you, especially when you get weary and feel like there is nothing left in the tank. Those brief reflections will keep you grounded and constantly help you be the best version of yourself.
Use camp as an opportunity to master your craft and perfect your technique. Stay after practice to get those extra reps, bond with your teammates, and most importantly, continue to master the offense/defense and ask a lot of questions to get better. Elite players know exactly what records stand because every day they are chasing greatness to break them! Would your coach describe you as one of those young men?
During camp, you’ll quickly learn that proper maintenance for your body will help sustain and elevate your game. Instead of going to play Fortnite or Madden, make sure you are building time in your schedule to see your athletic trainers and get in the ice bath.
Lastly, mindfulness is essential for your team to come together in order to win. When you are mindful, you develop unique intangibles that will make you a better teammate, friend and supporter of everyone around you. Being your brother’s keeper takes hard work. Are you willing to sacrifice for your teammate rather than gaining the glory for yourself? Will that bother you or will you adjust to help the team win? This may affect you by being asked to change positions or commit solely to special teams. The most talented teams are not always the most successful, but teams that place others before themselves win championships!
Work hard. Be great. And most importantly, have a great fall camp.
Ashton Henderson was a four-year letterman at defensive back for Michigan State University as well as an honor student and co-author with former teammate Travis Key of “Beyond The Gridiron: How to successfully transition into collegiate football,” a detailed account of what it takes to be a Division I college football player and successful in life. To learn more about their mission and purchase your copy today, visit: www.beyondthegridironllc.com.