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I just got drafted: Now what?

The three months leading up to a rookie’s first camp can be littered with distractions. Jack Bechta

Print This May 08, 2013, 11:00 AM EST

When you become an NFL player you are usually the most popular person in your hometown and on your campus. Everybody wants a piece of you and it's truly hard to say “No!” Attending teammates/coaches football camps (which occur throughout June and July) are great ways to give back but usually involve working all day and drinking beers all night. When attending camps, golf tournaments, and weddings, there is usually a day or two of much needed recovery time before regaining one’s rest and stamina. Having 25 days or more of working out, getting proper rest, studying a playbook, polishing your skill set and eating right can make a rookie properly prepared for camp.

I tell my clients to just pick one camp or fundraiser to attend and limit it to two days and just one night. The same goes for other events. Players do need to have fun, blow off some steam and meet family obligations, but the days can really add up and take away from their focus and preparedness. Family and friends also need to be sensitive to the demands of being a rookie.

Invest into body management: When 185-pound client, WR/KR Tim Dwight, was drafted by the Falcons in 1998, he wanted to bring his body mechanic from Iowa City, IA with him to Atlanta. My first reaction was, “Tim, you can’t afford that expense being a 4th round pick.” After explaining to me how badly his body was banged up after throwing it all over the BIG TEN for the last four years, I relented and got on board with his program. We found other clients for his personal body mechanic and worked out a deal that was feasible for Tim and his guy to move to Atlanta and work on Tim five days a week. In talking to Tim just yesterday, he said having a body manager in his rookie year really helped him in being physically healthy and mentally ready for camp for his first 16 game season, which also included playoff games and a trip to the Super Bowl. Tim said he could have never played 10 years in the NFL without having a team of body mechanics work on him year round.

I encourage my clients to get on a stretching, workout, yoga, massage and/or ART (active release therapy) routine. When a rookie returns home for a few weeks before reporting to camp, it’s imperative that he has a specific plan for his body. The cost of hiring a personal trainer, massage therapist, and or yoga teacher is a great tax-deductible investment for any rookie. Furthermore, it’s important that they have a structured environment when there are no coaches around to give them one.

On a special note to this article, it’s a fact that several NFL owners and General Managers wait as long as they can to get a rookie contract deal done with their draft picks. And even when they do get it done they slow-play in getting the signing bonus to the player and/or spread payment out over a longer period. They do this for one reason: They fear that a pocket full of cash, coupled with a lack of structured environment along with some free time can result in players losing their edge and losing their hunger to keep working hard.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta 

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