Mike Thomas's Guide to Off-Season Training | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Mike Thomas's Guide to Off-Season Training

June 4, 2012

Must See Football Videos

Being a top-ranked wide receiver in the NFL requires explosiveness, quickness, strong hands and the ability to make game-changing plays—all qualities that Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Thomas possesses in abundance. The 2009 fourth-round NFL Draft selection made a name for himself this past season when he caught a deflected Hail Mary pass for the winning touchdown with three seconds left in a game against the Titans.

STACK recently caught up with Thomas to learn his tricks for staying game-ready during the off-season. If you're dreaming of making big-time plays on the national stage, apply these techniques to your off-season training and watch your stats pile up next year.

Redefining Form

A huge number of Thomas's workouts this off-season have focused on tweaking his speed and agility, both major assets for his position. But he also works on his refining his form.

"After 17 straight weeks and hopefully a playoff run, my body—especially my hips and stepping—is a little off," Thomas explains. "So I'm really trying to dial in on getting that quickness and twitching back to my original form."

He performs "a lot of quick muscle-firing repetitions of exercises like Hurdle Drills, Knee Dribbles, High Knees and Ankle Bounds," with some Sled Pulls thrown in for good measure. These exercises "fine-tune acceleration and are much-needed form reaffirming."

Know Your Limitations

Overtraining gets lots of press nowadays and for good reason—you build muscle when your body has time to recover and heal, not from daily workouts. To ensure he's at his peak, Thomas trains intensely—but he gives himself sufficient time to heal. He admits he no longer trains like a college standout, although he still works out at his alma mater (the University of Arizona) with his old strength coach.

"I'm not in my early twenties any more, so I don't need to do the big buck lifting like the younger guys do," says Thomas. "I want to be around for awhile, and I don't necessarily need [super heavy lifting] in that sense." If he performs an intense workout and feels its effects the next day, he dials it back and adjusts.

Have a Dedicated Work Ethic

Thomas admits he gets little motivation from setting personal goals. Although he doesn't discourage others from doing so, he says he remembers that "I want to go out there and ... play the sport I love. So to me, that involves putting in the work that will come to be everything I know I am."

This mantra translates to giving 110 percent effort, all the time. "Instead of saying I want to catch 90 balls this season or make the Pro Bowl, I focus on making my mark," he says. "If I work hard, everyone will know what I am capable of."

You can apply this to your training by going the extra mile during practice, staying late to get in extra touches or run sprints. It may not produce results right away, but it will definitely help you get noticed.

"You've got to gain the coaches' confidence so they'll want to give you the opportunity and see what you can do with it," Thomas states.

Study, Study, Study

We're not talking academics here. We're talking game film. During the off-season, Thomas makes an effort to review the previous season from every angle. He spends time memorizing opponents' drills and plays. He says, "A lot of teams are getting to where they run different coverages. There are different schemes going on, so to be able to have an idea, to know where everyone is trying to get to, gives you an edge and the knowledge to navigate through the traffic"; and he focuses on "getting looks at every position, that's the most important thing. Repetitions and routes for seeing how certain people play different things is my favorite thing of practice."

Impress your teammates and coaches by expanding your football IQ this off-season. It will not only help your game, it will also improve your leadership abilities. Put Thomas' guide to off-season training to work for you and reap the benefits.

For more pro football stars' off-season training, check out:

Steeler WR Antonio Brown's Bodyweight Workout
Patrick Willis's Homegrown Workout
LaMarr Woodley's Conditioning

Photo:  zimbio.com

Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Kelly Clark: Strong Enough to Fly

Get Lacrosse-Specific Workouts With Bridge Lacrosse

The Comeback Kid: How Scott Kazmir Resurrected His MLB Career

WATCH: Duke Ihenacho's Reverse Hip Raise with Bicycle Kick

WATCH: Jon 'Bones' Jones's Brutal Uphill Sprints

The 13-Exercise Duke Lacrosse Dynamic Warm-Up

6 Things the Best Athletes Have in Common

How to Stay Safe When Exercising in Cold Weather

WATCH: D.J. Campbell's Net Wall Explosive Pull-Up

WATCH: Sergio Ramos's Trampoline Wall Touch

31 Fitness Experts You Should Follow in 2015

Sanya Richards-Ross Looking Sharp in the Gym, Training for Rio

Athlete Assessment: Tips to Get You Started

Introducing Youth to Off-Ice Hockey Training

7 Training Tips from Professional Triathlete Linsey Corbin

Victor Cruz's Pool Workout with a ViPR

WATCH: Darnell Dockett's Explosive Sled Row with Training Mask

Kaitlin Sather Nielsen Does It All

Amari Cooper Shows Off Clapping Pull-Ups on Combine Week

5 Workout Lessons Every Athlete Must Learn

WATCH: Brandon Thompson's Plate Mountain Push-Ups

WATCH: Darnell Dockett Manhandles 655-Pound Tire

31 Pro Athletes Workouts That Will Inspire You in 2015

Lacrosse Players: Get Stronger on the Field with 4 Exercises

Home Gyms in the 1800s Were a Lot Like Today's TRX Trainer

WATCH: Michelle Jenneke's Superwoman Push-Ups

The Training Behind Super Bowl XLIX

Game Changer: Should You Be Using Machines or Free Weights?

WATCH: Jos

Above and Beyond: STACK Velocity Sports Performance San Diego

WATCH: 3 Power Moves for the Diamond from Edwin Encarnaci

WATCH: Dez Bryant's Superhuman Punching Bag Abs

Antonio Brown Built His Ridiculous Footwork With Pilates

Why CrossFit Is Perfect for Me

WATCH: Jos

Introducing the 2015 'All-Gaines NFL Combine Team'

How to Provide a Spot for the Bench Press

Versatility Raises the Value of These 11 NFL Draft Prospects

Make the Most of Your Pre-season Training

Training With Performance Pyramids

WATCH: Bryce Harper's 550-Pound 'Human Plate Pull'

WATCH: Jos

Johny Hendricks Gets Back to Basics