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5 Mistakes Most Rookies Will Make

I have witnessed major mistakes most players, especially rookies, make in their first few years in the NFL. Jack Bechta

Print This June 06, 2012, 04:00 PM EST

3. Will not set and adhere to a strict budget: I truly believe that setting a realistic hard ceiling budget is the best way for players to save money and live below their means. Many financial consultants try to do this with their clients but it seems that something always comes up and the budget is consistently exceeded. Once the spending dam breaks its hard to stop.

Solution: Obviously, set a budget and stick to it. A player should limit his own access to all his accounts and keep it limited to an account that resets each month to the fixed budgeted amount. Use a debit card (never credit) against the same account and have his monthly living expenses come from that account as well. I encourage players to pay their own bills. Using a bill paying service is convenient but when doing so players lose track of what they are spending, so they keep spending.

4. Will eat too much bad/fast food: Convenience will rule the day when it comes to eating properly. Teams like the Jets provide several meals a day for players with many healthy options. However, for those teams that don’t provide meals a fast food restaurant will provide 75% of all players’ meals. Poor eating leads to poor recovery and low energy. Big guys get bigger and the others get tired. I can’t tell you how many times my clients have called me while at the drive through window.

Many guys don’t know how to cook and when they are hungry they want to eat NOW. Personal chefs are very expensive so guys have a hard time justifying the cost. I have found that many nutritionists are over the top and don’t offer realistic menus.

Former Packers cornerback Al Harris hired one of his best friends to live with him during the season and prepare all his meals with great care. Al was/is obsessed with his nutrition and had all his meals strategically planned around his workouts, practices and games so he would always peak when he needed to. He swears it helped make the difference in obtaining a 14 year career and always held his body fat under 4%.

Solution: Most local restaurants will cook meals to order, especially for an NFL player. You just have to ask. There are food services such as Fitzee Foods who specializes in preparing and shipping meals for athletes. Stock the fridge once a week. Take cooking lessons (Women dig a man who can cook).

5. Won’t do enough to manage their body: A conundrum for most rookies is that they are told (usually in an informal manner) to stay out of the training room, however, they are probably pretty beat up and don’t know what to do about it. Head coaches hate seeing guys in the training room. Young players also have pride in being stoic, and wearing their injuries as a badge of honor. In addition, after a long day at practice, especially during camp and on Wednesday and Thursday during the season, they are tired and just want to eat and go home. So the typical routine is to get out of the facility as soon as they can, eat and get home to their favorite chair and watch TV. This is when even more stiffness and lactic acids build up in the body.

I had one rookie recently, who was playing a lot, battling stingers he received on special teams during the game. He would tell me about it but would not tell the trainers or coaches because he feared getting released if he did. He would load up on painkillers and anti-inflammtories to get through the week. I eventually arranged for him to get treatment away from the team.

Solution: Hit the cold plunge everyday, it will do wonders for recovery. Spend some extra time stretching after practice. Some vets will pay some trainers under the table to help them. Buddy up with another rookie as a stretching/recovery partner and get a consistent routine before and after practice. Spend the money on ART, massage therapy and perhaps even an acupuncturist. LaDainian Tomlinson would even travel with his own body specialist when he was fighting injuries. Take yoga! It’s all tax deductible.

I truly believe that if rookies start their careers out doing all the right things it will take away a lot of mental stress, add to their performance on the field, and buy them years on the back end of their careers.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta

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