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May 18, 2021

Podcast 124: Patrick Mahomes Talks WHOOP Strain, Visualizing Victory, Why He Almost Didn't Play Football

The face of the NFL is on WHOOP, and this week he’s on the WHOOP Podcast.

By Will Ahmed

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Patrick Mahomes, NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion, sits down for a wide-ranging discussion on strain, recovery, and peak performance. We dive deep on what Patrick’s WHOOP data looks like and examine the toll a football season takes on the human body.

Patrick shares how his father’s 11-year career in Major League Baseball inspired him to become an athlete, but his path almost went in an entirely different direction. He was encouraged to quit football in high school to focus on baseball and basketball, and he says he didn’t even know he was going to pursue football professionally until a year before he was drafted. Five years later, Patrick is undeniably one of the best players in the NFL.

He talks about using visualization and how it primes him for success, the importance of mindset, and what he’s learned from both victory and defeat. Patrick also explains how WHOOP fits into that equation, and why a passion for his data led to him investing in the company.

 

Patrick Mahomes Podcast Show Notes:

3:01 – Following in His Dad’s Footsteps. Patrick’s father, Pat Mahomes, pitched for 11 years in the major leagues. Patrick said being around his dad’s teams as a kid helped set him on a path towards success in sports. “As I look back now and see all those different people that I met and the different great athletes that I got to see every single day, it gives me the perspective of how to be a great athlete and how to go out there and make myself better every day.”

3:48 – Dreaming of Going Pro. “I always envisioned I was going to be a professional athlete. I thought that was the way I was going to go. [I didn’t] really have a backup plan. That was how I was going to spend my life.”

4:25 – Fundamentals in Sports. “I remember when I was young, my dad used to make me hit off the [baseball] tee a lot. I never wanted to hit off the tee. When he got to the Rangers, I saw Alex Rodriguez, he was [American League] MVP and doing all this different stuff, but every single day he was hitting off the tee to start off his day. Just working on the fundamentals. That really stuck with me forever knowing that no matter how good you get, you always have to work on those base fundamentals if you want to be great.”

5:21 – Choosing Football over Baseball. Patrick nearly quit football in high school to focus on his two other sports, baseball and basketball. “I went on a sophomore day at the University of Texas and they sent me over to play safety. I knew I wasn’t going to be a safety or anything like that. On the road back home my dad said, ‘You should just focus on baseball and basketball because that’s the way you’re going to go.’ I thought about it, but more than anything I just didn’t want to not be there playing with all my buddies when they were in football season. So I just went out there and tried out quarterback. I didn’t think I was going to be a professional quarterback until probably after my sophomore year in college. I went in [to college] thinking I was going to play football and I was going to play baseball as well and after 3 years [in school] I was going to go play baseball.” Patrick says his football coach at Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury, convinced him to focus on football after his sophomore year.

9:00 – Learning from Alex Smith. Patrick sat behind quarterback Alex Smith his first year in Kansas City, before the Chiefs handed the starting job over to him. “I’m thankful for Alex. He was such a good dude and taught me so much, even though he didn’t have to. It helped me be so much more prepared.”

10:04 – Visualizing Success. “That’s big for me,” Patrick says of visualization. “If you watch me before a game, 3 or 4 hours before a game, I’m just walking the field and just watching and visualizing the play happening and throwing the ball to [Travis] Kelce or Tyreek [Hill]. [I’m] visualizing the success. Visualizing going out there and winning the championships and winning the Super Bowl. [I’m able] to embrace those moments when I’m in them because I’ve seen it happen before.”

12:39 – Tom Brady’s Advice to Patrick. Patrick shares what Tom Brady told him after Brady sought him out after the Patriots defeated the Chiefs in the 2018 AFC Championship Game. “He said, ‘I appreciate how hard you work and I can tell what type of guy you are by how you act and how you handle yourself out there on the field. I can tell your teammates like you.’ He said, ‘Continue to do that. Continue to do that and you’ll continue to have success.’ Coming from a guy like that who has won seven championships now and has had success everywhere he’s been at … it just shows that you’re doing stuff the right way … He’s a guy who has done it the right way and he’s won a lot. Every single year. [He’s] that someone that I’m trying to get to as my career goes on. I’m looking at all the records and the things that he’s set. I’m trying to get that point. [The conversation was] definitely validating, obviously not at the time when you lose the football game, but when [I went] into the offseason.”

15:53 – On-Field Visualization. Patrick details how he uses visualization on the field and how he draws on previous experiences in the NFL to succeed. “There were points in games last year where I said, ‘I remember seeing this defense my first year. I’ve already visualized and seen it and this is what I need to do to have success, whereas I didn’t have success my first year with it.’”

17:23 – Patrick’s WHOOP Data. Will and Patrick dive deep on Patrick’s WHOOP data from the 2020 season.

21:33 – Mindset. “All you can control is the next play,” Patrick says. “No matter what happened, if it was a good play the last play or a bad play or what the score is, all you can control is that next play you’re having. I’ve always had that mindset. No matter what happened, just focus on the next play.”

21:47 – Strain Throughout the Season. Patrick’s strain built significantly over the course of the season. “It does make so much sense. Obviously every game is important, but September and October you’re feeling out what you are as a team. As you get to November and December and obviously January and February, your intensity picks up as you’re trying to win these football games.”

22:23 – In The Green. Patrick’s best statistical performance of the 2020 season came against the New York Jets, on a day where he had a 91% recovery. “[Checking my recovery is] the first thing I do when I wake up,” Patrick says. “I look at it because I want to know how I’m feeling, how my body is feeling, where I’m at. Usually if I’m feeling pretty relaxed it’s usually a pretty good score.”

23:11 – Overcoming Red Recoveries. Patrick discusses the mindset needed to overcome red recoveries, like he did when he woke up with an 18% recovery on the day of the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills.

24:48 – Super Bowl Recovery. Patrick awoke the morning of Super Bowl LV with a 56% recovery. “Obviously I wish I played a little bit better this Super Bowl, but I was ready to go for sure. I was ready to play.”

25:41 – Business. Patrick explains his investing and business strategy. “I invest in things that I’m passionate about and things that I think help me every day. I check my WHOOP every single day. I check my WHOOP scores. I look at the recovery, I look at the strain, I look at all the different analytics that it has to help prepare my body to be in the best possible shape. … All the different stuff that I use and I love using, I invest in that because I know that I care about it and I believe in it. That’s something I’ll continue to do because I don’t want to put my time, more than my money, my time into something that I don’t really care about. I want it to be stuff that I care about and believe in.” Patrick is an investor in WHOOP.

26:50 – Good for Football, Bad for Football. Will asks Patrick some rapid-fire questions to get his thoughts on whether they are good or bad for football:

  • A 43-year-old quarterback winning the Super Bowl. “Good for football!” Patrick says. “It’s good for me. I plan on playing for a long time.”
  • The difficulty of onside kicks. “It’s good for football. I believe that if you’re going to onside kick, it [should be] a low chance that you can get it because you’re in a desperate situation. … If you put yourself in that situation, you shouldn’t have a higher chance of coming back.”
  • Penalties for excessive celebrations. “I think it’s bad for football. I think the fans want to see people celebrate. I understand if they’re really taunting someone, but if you’re celebrating with your teammates and doing all different types of stuff like that, it’s fine.” Patrick says Terrell Owens’ popcorn moment and Joe Horn’s cell phone celebration were both “iconic.”
  • Division winners hosting home playoff games against wild card teams with better records. “I think it’s good for football because, at least for us, the first thing we talk about is winning the AFC West.”
  • 17-game season. “I’ll just say it will definitely be a change. It’s a lot of games on the body. You’ve got to think about all of the guys that already get injured in the late part of the season. I think it will be bad for the players, but it will be good for the money.”
  • Coaches’ challenges. “It’s good for football. There are just some calls, everyone’s human, how do you know if it’s in or out of bounds?” Patrick and Will discuss the future of technology in football and how putting tracking chips in the ball can help referees officiate the game.

Connect with Patrick on Instagram and Twitter

 

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance. WHOOP today works with everyone from professional athletes to fitness enthusiasts to executives. Ahmed has raised $200 million from top investors and has an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, and designers. He wrote “The Feedback Tool: Measuring Fitness, Intensity, and Recovery,” which sparked the underlying physiology and engineering for his work today. Ahmed was named a 2011 Harvard College Scholar for finishing in the top 10% of his class and a CSA Scholar Athlete; he captained the Harvard Men’s Varsity Squash Team. He was also recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal 40 Under 40.

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