When a skilled quarterback like Patrick Mahomes steps on the field, fans see a calm and collected professional with all of his concentration centered on the game. What’s less apparent is that a game day mindset like his doesn’t emerge like magic — it takes continuous training and practice to mentally prepare for football like a pro.
You see the final result on Sundays. That comes from preparation. It comes from stuff I’ve worked on throughout my life — all the training I’ve done has prepared me.
Preparing Mentally for Football: Training Strategies of Pros Like Patrick Mahomes
For Mahomes, each day counts — not just game day: “You have to know what you’re trying to accomplish every single day. You have to find a way to not waste your day.” He approaches every practice with the same dedication he brings to competition, which helps to train his mind for those key moments when the pressure’s high and his team is relying on him to make split-second moves that can decide a game.
Hit the books like you hit the gym. Mahomes’s success on the field isn’t just about physical stamina — it takes strategy and quick thinking. Pros like him usually train their minds for football with plenty of studying: watching filmed plays and studying past games, and focusing on key plays and scenarios that are likely to come up again.
Prepare like the pros. When football pros like Mahomes talk about “preparation,” they’re talking about more than just practicing throws. Coaches will often simulate game-day timing and scenarios during practices — like taking half-time breaks or running drills of plays that go wrong.
Every single day you have to make an impact not just for yourself but for the people around you. The key is to prepare mentally, not just physically, so that when the unexpected happens on the gridiron you’ll be ready.
Beef up your mental stamina. When do game-changing plays happen in football? Often, they happen in the final minutes of the game. Pros like Mahomes train their reflexes and their hand-eye coordination to stay as sharp as their mindset, all the way to the last buzzer. Train your mind during practice by saving some of your toughest drills for the end of your workout when you’re fighting exhaustion. If you practice pushing yourself to focus and perform through fatigue, it can help you in those key plays late in the fourth quarter.
Flex your emotional control. Some experts recommend meditation and other mindfulness exercises to help pro athletes master their competition mindset. This can help you stay aware and calm, so you can make the most of every game day.
For skilled athletes like Mahomes, it’s important to stay positive when something goes wrong during a game, so they can focus on making their next move. “The person that I am is someone that loves to compete, that finds ways to solve problems no matter the situation, to the very end.”
Don’t Forget to Love What You Do
I love what I do. I have always wanted to be a professional athlete. I didn’t have a backup plan. Now that I’m here I want to do it as long as I can.
He hopes players at every level can approach football with a “mindset of loving what they do. Going out there and competing every single day. Enjoying it with their family, teammate, friend — whatever it is — and being a part of something bigger than themselves.”