If Watt is able to approximate the shape of his pro youth, it will be because of the work that has been done on both his head and body this off-season. The fact is, injuries affect a player’s psychological invincibility, especially if you are prevented from doing the things that made your greatness great. For Watt, this was reflected in his training.
The Texans’ medical staff took more practical action after his injuries, so he eventually stopped spending the off-season with Brad Arnett, the personal trainer Watt had worked with since he was a teenager. The two stayed in contact, but most of his rehab / training was overseen by the team, and it was far more conservative than what he was used to – something that might have been necessary, but also a reality that robbed him of fearlessness, that made him great.
“Every off-season there were coaches and doctors telling you, ‘Hey, you have to be conservative here, you have to take it easy here; you can’t do that, you can’t; you can only do that,’ that can You just do, “Watt told NFL.com after a recent workout.” It comes to a point where I can, yes, go out and play, but when I can’t work out the way I need to to work out and practice like I have to practice, then I won’t be the player, “I have to be.”
Dissatisfied with this, Watt decided to return to his old ways. The process started midway through last season when he was doing some of his old drills and sending a video to Arnett for the coach to criticize. And it intensified immediately after the season when he returned to his home state of Wisconsin to work full-time with Arnett for six months, Monday through Friday.
“I said to myself, ‘I’ll go, I’ll do it. If it doesn’t work, it won’t work, but we’ll do it,'” said Watt. “I don’t want to go out on the field and be half the player I should be or a conservative version of who I should be; I have to be who I am supposed to be, and if I can’t, I can’t. “
The sessions were about rebuilding Watts from both a psychological and a physical point of view. They had to break through the mental scar tissue that was holding him back. It doesn’t matter how much skill a player has; When he has doubts about whether he can let it go, when he focuses on what could go wrong instead of what could go wrong, there is no chance of achieving the desired goal. Arnett once noticed this when he asked Watt to do a squat with resistance bands. There was hesitation on the player’s face, an expression that made Arnett intervene because of the many years they had together.
“‘You are in no danger; I want you to attack it,'” he recalled, he said to Watt. “I said to him, ‘I’m not going to stand over you and breathe on your neck. You have to start trusting yourself again and realize that you are not broken.’ “
Watt admitted having a previous incident with an air squat, and the idea of using resistance bands paused him. He didn’t trust that he would be okay. That’s a simple solution, said Arnett, who replaced the resistance bands with chains. Suddenly Watt was Watt again.
“It was about staying in tune with your feelings,” said Arnett. “There are things we have to be careful and careful about, but the thing about J is that he’s a creature of habit and that he does things that he thinks are normal is a big mental thing for him. to get him. ” back to the things that make him tick, where he feels normal, where he doesn’t feel broken, where he doesn’t feel like he’s being treated with white gloves. “