NFL star Chris Hovan of the Minnesota Vikings recently gave STACK an exclusive glimpse into his step-by-step pre-game preparation routine – sharing what he eats, thinks and does the night before the game through pre-game introductions, all with one goal in mind: TO DOMINATE THE COMPETITION.
By: Chris Hovan (as told to Tom Gilden)
The night before
Usually, I get back to my room from Mass and meetings by about 9:30 or 10 p.m. Then, I maybe watch a little bit of TV if there is some college football on, but I’m usually asleep by 11 p.m. because I’m so tired from the day. If you get eight hours of sleep you’re fine. I usually get about seven to eight hours. I usually have my laptop with me and I will watch films of the opponent. So, if I’m watching TV, I’ll have my computer with me to watch films.
The morning of
If it’s a noon game, I get up probably around 8 a.m. I take a hot shower to wake myself up, get my stuff together and go downstairs. If it’s an away game, I usually catch a shuttle with a few other teammates about a half-hour before the team bus leaves. If it is a home game, I try to get to the stadium real early.
The pre-game meal
For the pre-game meal, I eat a lot of carbs–baked potatoes, pancakes, a lot of bread and complex carbs to keep me going for the whole game.
The locker room
As soon as I get in the locker room, I will take another hot shower to get my body all warmed up because we don’t have any hot tubs or anything. I just want to make sure that my muscles are warm and not tight.
The training room
After the second hot shower, I’ll go in the training room, put some hot packs on my back, my hamstrings and my hips to get everything all loosened up. I do some stretching after that to loosen up even more. Then, I get changed and get taped up.
The film room
If you haven’t watched your tapes by game day, you are pretty much out of luck.
After getting taped and changed, if I have anything to go over in my play-book, now’s the time to do it. I make sure that all my assignments are down. If I have any last minute questions, I will go talk to my coordinator during this time.
Throughout the morning, I will listen to a lot of music to try to get my mind in the place it needs to be because I am about to go to war–Metallica, AC/DC and Jimi Hendrix—stuff that lets me know I am ready to play a game.
The mind game
You pretty much get yourself in a mental state for the rest of the morning just to get yourself ready to go to war. I do a lot of visualization during this time. A lot of visualization. I am seeing myself making plays. I start to get real excited, but at the same time I’m controlling my emotions. You put yourself in the atmosphere. You’ve got to know what you’re going to do. You’ve got three to four hours to let yourself go.
When we come back in the locker room after warm-ups, I pretty much just sit in my chair, put a towel over my head and try to shut everything out until the coaches have something to say. I pretty much just shut everything out, and try to be real calm, collected and make sure that everything is right. I make sure my mind is right for what I have to do because it is game day. If you are not physically ready by game time, then you are not ready to play.
I try to get myself mentally ready for any situation that can happen. What you have to do if they are in two-minute mode, or if you have to win the game. I am trying to visualize all the weaknesses of my opponent so that I can take advantage of them. Everything is like a mental checklist of what you have to go through.
I’m just excited and thankful that I get to play. The key is just getting yourself out there and keeping cool and composed, because you don’t want to use up all your energy. I’m cool and composed, taking it all in, but I’m getting ready to give it out.
The advice to future NFL stars
Hard work pays off. You know what I mean. If you ever think you are stuck in a situation, and you don’t know where you are going, hard work is always the foundation of where you want to go in life.