Analyzing others’ success provides us with some of the clues we need to accomplish our own goals. We titled this article, “The difference between Tom Brady and the rest of the Universe,” because we want to emphasize some of the reasons that Brady, and others like him, are so dominant. It’s easy to assume when watching Brady throw pinpoint 65 yard bombs that he is naturally endowed with different tools than the rest of us. This type of conclusion, however, ignores the fact that Brady struggled to even see the field in college. It also ignores the fact that Brady was a sixth round pick in the NFL draft, having 198 players chosen before him.
If Brady’s abilities were always there, wouldn’t they have been apparent sooner? The truth is that Tom Brady relentlessly pressed on through adversity, honing his skills and gaining experience, until he became so good that no one could doubt his ability.
If perseverance were the only factor that led to Brady’s success though, there would be a lot more all-world quarterbacks. Plenty of athletes give everything that they have during their careers and still don’t get the results they’re looking for. One major difference between Brady and other dedicated quarterbacks is the strategy that he used in going about his goals. For starters, Brady didn’t get there alone. People like Bill Belichek, Charlie Weis, Wes Welker, and others, have been keys to Brady’s success. In his career, he has consistently put himself in a position to succeed by surrounding himself with greatness. In fact, he is so dedicated to surrounding himself with greatness, that he restructured his contract (took less money) so that his team could afford to have other top performers on their roster.
This commitment didn’t start in New England, though. Brady has been doing it his whole life. Before Brady ever stepped into a collegiate locker room, much less an NFL one, he sought out private quarterback training from a man named Tom Martinez. Martinez was a master quarterback coach who worked with Brady from the time he was 13, until the Coach’s recent passing this February. He played such a crucial role in Brady’s success that Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr., once said, “Tom Brady would not be the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots without Tom Martinez.”
We were fortunate enough to have Coach Martinez as part of our Winning Edge staff before his passing. He was very excited to see the impact of bringing his knowledge to the masses. We hope that we can help carry the torch by providing our athletes with the tools that they need to be successful. One of the most important messages that we can pass on to all of you is that nobody succeeds by themselves. Guys like Tom Brady are where they are because they sought out the best coaching they could find, and worked relentlessly to master what they were taught.
Working relentlessly to master what you’ve been taught doesn’t mean that you mindlessly go out and throw the football until your arm falls off. Rather, it means that you engage in extremely focused practice, working on the exact skills that will help you succeed on game day. We had the opportunity to see how Brady practices firsthand, when Coach Martinez invited us to a few workouts in which he trained him. Although these were just informal off-season throwing sessions, Brady and his receiver, Wes Welker, were extremely methodical in their approach. Before we get into how they practiced, think for a moment about how most quarterbacks and receivers practice in the off-season. The vast majority go out and work on the execution and timing of various routes in their offense. There is nothing wrong with that. Practicing accuracy and route running will improve execution. However, guys like Brady and Welker aren’t interested in just “improving execution.” In their workouts, every drop back, throw, and route was an attempt to replicate a real game situation. They even practiced their signals. Rather than saying “ok, let’s run some slants,” Brady gave Welker a hand signal and said something like, “let’s run this play against Cover 4.” When they had perfected that specific situation, Brady would say, “OK, imagine the same coverage, but the linebacker over-plays you. Work your adjustment to that.” They continued working on extremely specified situations for about an hour before Brady told Welker, “This is the last one.” It wasn’t. They were still on the field for about an hour after that “last one.” They didn’t stop until they had executed each play with exact precision. Watching Brady and Welker practice gave us a better understanding of why they have accomplished so much. In a couple of hours they got more done than most athletes do in a week or a month.
When you practice each scenario to the point that execution becomes automatic, you are prepared to dominate on game day. Great players know that world-class performance requires world-class preparation. Everything that Brady and Welker did had a reason and a purpose. They would never waste their time mindlessly “playing catch.”
They are interested in being world champions. Every moment in practice was focused on developing the exact skills necessary to win games in the fall. Winning Edge 7-on-7 leagues are designed to give players that same quality of practice. Our leagues provide an environment focused on replicating real game situations. Every down is designed to make players practice the real life scenarios that they face in the fall. We look forward to watching you improve as you participate in this environment. But improvement doesn’t happen by itself. In order to get better, you’ll need to develop a plan for each situation and practice your execution of that plan until it becomes second nature. There is a champion within you, waiting to be unleashed, if you are willing to practice like one. Only you can take the steps necessary to let that champion out. You can do it! The decision is up to you.