Establishing a routine is very important in any occupation, and working as a professional athlete is no exception. It could be getting into a workout routine. It could be specific pregame rituals. It could be what you do before you get into the batter's box, or how you line up before attempting a field goal, or the way you put down the ball and set yourself up for a penalty kick. How many breaths you take, how long you hold the bat up, how many times you blink. It certainly matters for free throws in basketball. My brother is an aspiring sports psychologist who is almost done with the grueling post-graduate schooling (grueling schooling... that has a nice ring to it) required for his degree, and he wrote a 97-page thesis titled "'Money' Free Throws: Understanding Clutch Performance Under Pressure from the Free Throw Line." In it, he concluded that "having a specific, consistent, practiced routine that a player is comfortable with is an important predictor of free throw success."
If you want to read through the massive thesis, be my guest. If not, I won't be offended. The point is that routine certainly matters, and it's more likely than not that your favorite athlete has some sort of routine, no matter how strict, that helps to keep them cool and perform at the highest possible level.
Drew Brees is no exception. How else does a guy become a 13-time Pro Bowler, a surefire Hall of Famer, and the all-time leader in passing yards and completions? On the latest episode of CBS Sports' "All Things Covered" with Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden, new Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater discussed a number of topics, including the time he spent learning from Brees and the Saints (at the 22:35 mark in the video below).
"My two years there taught me the real meaning of valuing your process and honing in on your process. I'll tell you about it, I watched Drew Brees be the same guy for two years straight," Bridgewater said. "I'm talking about eat his breakfast at a certain time, chew his bacon a certain way, bite his sunflower seeds a certain way in the meeting room, take a pee break at a certain time. Man, this guy, he was so routine and that just, it meant a lot to me because I was still a young guy.
"I had only been playing two years for real and I was always just like, man I'm from South Florida, I'll just goddamn ball and do whatever. And just watching those guys, how they operate, it really gave me different insight and [a] different view and I was able to just take the little bits and pieces from what Drew did and apply it to my career, and it's been working for me."
Gnaw on that bacon a certain way? Program your bladder to call for your attention at the same time? That's routine if I've ever heard of it. And I thought I had a routine of rolling out of bed and grabbing a coffee every morning, so long as I can get up and make it to Dunkin' before my shift starts. But I suppose that's what it takes to be one of the greatest quarterbacks, and players, that the game has ever seen, and the Broncos are hoping that Bridgewater can continue to develop and use those learnings to his advantage in the newest step of his career.
That is, unless Aaron Rodgers comes knocking.