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Day in the Life: How KhaDarel Hodge finds time in busy training camp days to maintain mental health

Veteran receiver with big personality added meditation to his routine two year ago

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Falcons training camp days are long. That's why KhaDarel is committed to keeping things light. His big personality helps others get through the grind, which starts at 6 a.m. and ends more than 12 hours later.

There are countless meetings to sit through, with a practice and walk-through breaking them up. Then there's the recovery periods in the training room, ice bath and hot tubs and once back in the Falcons on-campus dorms, to make sure his body is ready to do it all over again.


As you can see in the must-watch video above, where KhaDarel takes you inside a few days in his camp life, he brings an outgoing personality and a welcome sense of humor to what he considers the serious business of getting ready for an NFL season.

The written form can't beat visuals so great.

There are parts of his routine not shown, however, important additions to it that have helped clear his mind and put his best foot forward this summer and last.

Hodge puts as significant effort into maintaining his mental health, which stands as important as anything else done during a super busy day.

"I like to meditate morning and night," Hodge said. "I like to get my mind right and lock in on goals I want for myself in the morning. At night I like to remind myself of what I want to do and affirm what I've done to accomplish those things. I sleep on that, and when I wake up, I feel like I have a better energy and mindset to know what I'm going to do the next day."

Meditation keeps the receiver focused on the positive and away the traps of stressing about mistakes or things not done.

"This is a great game but a crazy business," Hodge said. "If you don't get away from it every now and then, it can be overwhelming. I like to stay loose and sometimes just relax and unwind and think about the good things in life instead of just pressing so much. Only focusing on the field can be a bit much, so hitting that reset button is important."

Hodge knows all too well that focusing on the negatives can lead you down the wrong path and tells young receivers that at every turn. Overthinking can make you play worse and do uncharacteristic things.

Hodge knows mistakes are inevitable. NFL players are, after all, human. He instead emphasizes making one good/great play per day. He wants to finish every block and avoid missed assignments. Those three things, plus staying healthy, are pillars of a darn good day.

He goes to sleep each night focused on those things. Then he wakes up thinking about ways to do even better.

Even with this focus on keeping the mind right, breaking the routine is key. That's why you see KhaDarel signing at the top of his lungs on a later-night drive, letting all the extra emotions out before settling back in for the night.

"Sometimes that's just a different way to vent," Hodge said. "Sometimes you just need to take a little night stroll and have a little fun and remind yourself where you're at in life and that it's okay to enjoy it. That's how I unwind and get my mind back and see that I'm in a good spot and, whatever negative thing that happened that day isn't as bad as it seems."

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