Thursday night, the Chicago Bears took the field in their first game of the year, a pre-season home-opener.
Being a Bears fan, I was tuned into the game, but I also recently had the chance to gain some extra insight on the team, which definitely piqued my interest in last night’s season debut. About a week ago, I had the opportunity to go watch the Bears practice at their summer camp in a small town about an hour outside of Chicago. There was a lot to take in, and a lot student-athletes can learn from the way the Bears are prepping for their upcoming season.
Three things really stood out to me (aside from Jay Cutler’s pearly white grin) as lessons that all athletes could learn from professional football training camp and their team prep for the months to come.
Proper nutrition is a must.
The Bears did something brand new this season – they hired an on-field team nutritionist to monitor everything from what players are eating and drinking, to their vitamin intake, to how they’re correctly using supplements and such to keep their bodies in tip-top shape and as healthy as ever. From what I heard at training camp, this has become an important part of the Bears pre-season prep, and a rapidly growing trend in the NFL.
And as a student-athlete, proper nutrition is a must.
While it by no means has to take a paid professional, a huge part of your results from training and working out lies in how you are fueling your body on a daily basis. Making good choices isn’t always easy, but it’s imperative to not only your on-field success, but success in the classroom, too. Collegiate student-athletes have access to team nutritionists or similar resources in their athletic department.
As a high school student-athlete, some easy and free options are talking to your family doctor, reaching out to the school nurse or gym/health teacher at your school, or if you belong to a gym, often times first consultations with trainers and dietitians are free of charge.
Bonus cool points: the Bears trusted nutritionist is a woman. I love it.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. And again. And again.
These guys took a lot of reps in the three hours I watched them practice.
When I say a lot of reps, I mean a lot of reps. And it wasn’t just the young guys or the rookies, veterans like like Jay Cutler, Kyle Long, and Jared Allen were in there play-after-play, (often the SAME play over-and-over), aiming to get it right.
I was impressed–and surprised.
Pro athletes often get a bad rap. They’re labeled divas, prima donnas, money grubbers.
And don’t get me wrong, I know the titles are true for some, but the overall work and focus these guys were putting in was nothing to scoff at, and nothing that could be faked. The athleticism on the field made it clear that no matter what string they may be come game day, “pro” means “pro” -– and student-athletes of all kinds could learn something from the tenacity and heart displayed at a simple afternoon of a professional football training camp.
A motto these guys live by: If it’s not right the first time, do it until you get it right, and then until the right way becomes the only way.
There’s always some fun to be found in the game.
While the pure grind these players were putting themselves through was as noticeable as anything else that day, at the end of it all, there were so many smiles, laughs, pats on the back, peer-to-peer instruction, and just all-around fun-loving going on at that training camp.
It was clear – in many ways – that these guys, no matter their age or rank on the team, have a love for football and for their team. Such camaraderie coming from grown men was something I guess I wasn’t really excpeting, but became a highlight of my time on the field.
As a student-athlete, your love of sport can take you a lot of places.
When two-a-days are getting hard, when trying to juggle school and practice starts to wear on you, when you don’t think you have one more sprint, one more spike, or one more swing left, remember why you’re out there: because you love your teammates, you love competing, you love the game.
Our scouts are here to talk to you about your love of the game and how you can take it to the next level. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.