Offseason training is a great opportunity to build into the new guys on the team and focus on your own training as an individual. I love spending that time really fine tuning my craft and focusing on the things I want to get better at. The offseason is a time for me to put myself in situations I may not normally experience or that I haven’t been able to conquer on the field yet. I don’t have to be game planning for a specific team or preparing to face a certain opponent. Instead, I have the luxury of really honing in on my own skill set to prepare for the fall.
One way that I prepare myself for competition is by evaluating film from the year before. It’s important for me to watch and learn from other guys in the league. This is one way I can add different skills and techniques to my toolbox for the year ahead. By learning from other players across the league in addition to what my special teams coaches and teammates are showing me, I’m continually learning to be the best me I can be.
The NFL is a very humbling league. I try to always have the mindset of just taking it one day at a time. It doesn’t matter where you are in the league or how long you’ve played, you’ll always have a lot to learn. If you aren’t staying at the top of your game, making sure not to cut corners, you will be exposed really quickly. My focus is set on just being faithful every day—faithful to my teammates, the organization, our fan base, and, most importantly, to the Lord. When I’m faithful, I’m able to put my best foot forward and earn the respect and trust of those around me. I want to be someone that others—especially my teammates—can look up to and lean on.
Recently I’ve been really challenging myself to step up my game when it comes to my prayer life. The reason I’ve been focusing on this a lot lately is because it’s one of the practices that I’ve been slacking in the most. I know the condition of my prayer life is directly correlated to the ties of my heart. In the moments or areas of my life where I feel I might not be as dependent on the Lord, I tend to pull away and then I see myself weakening. My aim is to focus more time, energy, and prayers on the Lord.
I never want to make prayer a one-time-for-fifteen-minutes-a-day thing. I don’t want to simply keep a prayer list and rattle it off. I want prayer to be in every part of my day. When I’m walking through the halls and see someone, I pray for them. When I see a photo of my family, I say a prayer for them. When I’m talking with someone, I take the time to ask them how I can pray for them, and then, when possible, pray with them in that moment.
Prayer needs to be both in the forefront and the background of my mind. It’s where my heart leans, leading me to humility. When I bring my requests, praises, and thoughts to the Lord, I am allowing Him to carry me. My desire is to listen and learn from His wisdom and direction instead of trying to find my own solutions.
The only way to get better is to train hard, again and again. As I head into the next stage of preseason training, I want to become stronger as an athlete and more faithful in my prayer life.
Chris Maragos is a safety and special teams ace with the Philadelphia Eagles. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.