While social media tends to rule the athletic landscape, for Jake Browning, it’s just another distraction.
When going into the Rose Bowl, or any major bowl game for that matter, reporters always try and get into the headspace of the athletes. And rightfully so. This is an era of “seen or be seen.” Often times, athletes take to social media to make sure that even when the lights are off, they’re still under the spotlight. But for Washington quarterback Jake Browning, an area discussed at media day was his social media habits, and how they affected his preparation.
All sports figures receive criticism and praise, but something that’s always worth discussing–whether good or bad–is how athletes handle themselves when adversity hits. This is often what separates good coaching from great coaching, and it occurs sooner than people realize.
For Jake Browning, this “culture” occurred in high school.
When asked how Browning learned to dismiss criticism or praise, he said, “It’s something that my high school coach kind of made me do. So it was kind of a habit I already had.” Browning continues, “I think you have to limit the avenues people can reach you. If you’re all over social media and promoting yourself and all that, when you don’t do well, people will be all over you.”
Browning also touched upon the issue that everyone presents when athletes are criticized, “You can say it doesn’t affect you, and you’d be lying, because I’m a pretty reasonable person and people say some unreasonable stuff, and then you want to rip into this guy… that’s some random person you don’t even know. [It] takes energy away from getting ready for the next game.”
Jake Browning says he doesn’t have Twitter. “I think it’s the worst one.” Dovetailing back to his comment on limiting people’s ability to reach you on social media, conditioning yourself to eliminate that level of noise is a virtue few players lack in an era where self-marketing is the only is the only static way athletes can capitalize off their talents when their playing days are over, or when they go to the NFL.
A significant part of player conditioning is in the mental state, and that’s often overlooked. ” I think a lot of average people look at me [and ask], ‘What’s make this guy so special?'” Said Browning. “It’s hard work. I’ve prided myself on doing things that other people aren’t willing to do preparation-wise.”
As for as what Browning has done to prepare beyond what others are doing, he said, “There’s nothing special. Just watching more film and preparing harder, getting the sleep and hydration and all that stuff.” Browning continued by mentioning that taking care of his body is a huge priority, but that his routine isn’t particularly “special,” it’s just more how he spends his time that affects how he feels for practices.
Publicity can certainly influence how a player feels, and Browning mentioned in the Rose Bowl press conference that he feels as though he is a better quarterback than he was a few years ago because it’s just the natural progression. He contributes several things to his improvement, however. “I do a better job not forcing the issue on certain things. Letting a play die. Taking a sack. For me, I’ll kind of scramble around sometimes, and on the pass, I’ll kind of take some bad sacks just trying to make too much happen. Sometimes you’ve got to cut your losses and take the four-yard sack instead of the 15-yard sack.”
For the senior quarterback, those are lessons you learn with time, but without the distractions of social media, it’s allowed Browning an opportunity to focus on his progression in a way that allows him to realize his mistakes without others pointing them out first. It’s, perhaps, a level of accountability that’s become lost on a generation that has grown used to seeing in real-time, praises and criticisms that often filter moods and feelings.
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