The secret to Patrick Mahomes’ success is… baseball?

By Dr Rajpal Brar

Published: 13:54, 8 October 2021

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ NFL career is already chalk full of accolades.

Playing in his fifth year the 26-year-old is the youngest quarterback to be crowned Super Bowl MVP, the most touchdowns thrown in the first 10 games (29!), the fastest ever to 10,000 throwing yards (beating Kurt Warner) and the quickest to 90 touchdowns (outpacing Dan Marino) – and is off to yet another fiery start.

According to Patrick Mahomes’ father – who shares the same name – a key facet of that success is owed to being around… baseball?

Let me explain.

Patrick Mahomes’ father was a professional baseball player who carved out an 11-year career in the major leagues, most notably pitching for the New York Mets. Patrick while growing up constantly spent time with his father at the clubhouse and games, often participating in warm-ups, playing catch, and shagging fly balls while being exposed to high caliber players including Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.

Mahomes’ father on a segment for NBC sports Sunday Night (American) Football touched on how that influence and exposure underlies his son’s success: “He got to go there and see how they worked and how they prepare themselves for the games. He was a student.”

There are also multiple examples of his pre-game preparation and student-like mentality while in the NFL. Multiple teammates have called him the most prepared and committed quarterback they’ve ever played with. Prior to the 2021 wild card round, the Chiefs didn’t know which of the four teams they would face so instead of waiting for the games to be completed, Mahomes’ solution was to study all of them and take manual notes. Once it became clear they’d face the Baltimore Ravens, he focused deeper on their game film, building on the previous notes he had already laid out.

That foundation of preparation, diligence, and commitment is critical to a quarterback’s success who is relied on to be a second coach on the field, recognising defensive coverages and alignments at the line of scrimmage and then being able to read defensive movement after the snap.

Mahomes personifies the mental side of the game with his constant line-calls and audibles to optimize the Chiefs’ west coast, multiple-read offense and seemingly being two-steps ahead of defenders at all times. In addition to the mental preparation side, Mahomes possesses a unique ability of arm strength, quickness, speed, and ability to manipulate his body shape and arm angle to get off throws that no other quarterback can come close to while maintaining the same level of velocity and accuracy.

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These attributes could also very well be attributed to his development as a baseball player while growing up, as both a pitcher and hitter. The former developed his arm strength and throwing technique (he hit 94 mph with his fastball while in high school) while getting him comfortable with different arm angles and throwing slots to layer on top of his football throwing motion. The latter further developed his rotational ability and body shape to hit effectively and quickness, agility and speed on the basepaths.

In addition to baseball, Mahomes also grew up playing basketball which may have further contributed to his athletic development and unique ability to contort his body and be comfortable in positions that others may think awkward. We know multi-sport participation contributes heartily to movement variability and can significantly reduce injury risk as well (Mahomes has had two major injuries in his career – a high ankle sprain and kneecap dislocation – that both came from contact).

Coincidentally – or not so coincidentally, hmm – Mahomes’ opposing quarterback this week is rising star Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills who was also a multi-sport athlete in high school. Perhaps the two can challenge each other to a complete sport-off after the game.

Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT, (@3cbperformance) is a physiotherapist, movement expert, fitness trainer, sports scientist and mindfulness coach. He runs the LA and online based wellness and athletic performance clinic 3CB Performance, and you can subscribe to his Youtube channel (which posts analyses of Lionel Messi and more).