Nathan O’Neal is an NFL consultant and athletic trainer. He has worked multiple NFL training camps and helped teams improve their defensive strategies. Currently, he is based out of Florida and works with NFL and college players in the offseason to help them hone their skills. He shares with veteran NFL agent and Pro Mindset® Podcast host Craig Domann his training regimes. They also discuss the mindset that players must have to be successful.
“They’ve got to have a great ‘want to,’ to not only go along with great size and quickness and explosion. They’ve got to have this ‘want to’ in them mentally that makes them almost obsessed with it.”
One of the fundamental parts to setting a player apart from the rest of the competition is their passion. O’Neal calls this the obsessive “want to.” The obsessive “want to” permeates every aspect of a player’s mindset. He has to “want to” learn and improve his game, for example, “want to” sack the quarterback or complete a pass. The passion for their position and their role in the game is integral to be a complete player. To O’Neal, his experience as a trainer and teacher in the NFL has shown him this passion leads to better effort and better training. Passion is what makes a player great. It makes them more successful than players without it who focus on paychecks rather than the obsessive “want to.”
“[Good players] when they come in, they're clinging to every bit of knowledge that they can get and they stay hungry. They recognize that every opportunity they get could be truly their last opportunity. So, they do everything they can to make the most of them.”
All players have to have belief and confidence in themselves to be successful at a high level. They have to be able to recover from the setback of an injury or an unexpected cut from a team without their ability. However, there is a fine line between confidence and entitlement. O’Neal explains that an NFL player will be surrounded by people who tell him how great he is and build up his ego. The problem is that that breeds entitlement. O’Neal describes entitlement as a “career killer.” The more entitled a player is, the less they have a hunger to learn and get better. They go from an obsessive “want to,” to thinking they are entitled to things. O’Neal explains that in his experience working with athletes that those who are hungry stay in the league longer. They cling to opportunities more than those with athletic gifts and recognition.
“The guys who are phenomenal at the game, who are the greats, they develop and focus on the game of inches.”
O’Neal stresses the game of inches when training his players. When breaking down film or working at increasing speed, he breaks down plays and positioning into many details. At the NFL level, every player is great which is why O’Neal stresses the small things. He looks at working every aspect of a play. From the bend in the knees to the turning of the feet --anything can make a difference during a snap, and the best players know that.
To hear more of the podcast interview with Nathan O’Neal and his perspective on training NFL players to develop a Pro Mindset, click here.