Artisans: Ken Mastrole, Quarterback Guru
The former Chicago Bears quarterback is channeling his experience to launch the careers of other players.
Years in the trade: 4
In Southwest Florida since: 2005
For his entire career, Ken Mastrole has been launching things. First, it was footballs. As a quarterback at the University of Maryland and then with the Chicago Bears, Mastrole sent plenty of passes into orbit.
But more recently, the Estero resident has been launching something else: careers.
This year, Mastrole gained national attention after grooming Florida State University quarterback E.J. Manuel for the NFL Draft. For four months, Mastrole worked on perfecting the mechanics of Manuel’s passing. But he also helped hone Manuel’s mental toughness while running interference with the media. When draft day came, the work paid off.
“He was more projected to be a third or fourth round pick, so it was really exciting when he was picked in the first round,” Mastrole says.
And then Manuel went out and started the first game of the season at the NFL’s most difficult position, acquitting himself well with a 18 for 27 day for 150 yards and two touchdowns versus the New England Patriots.
Slingshotting someone to greatness can be a challenging business—it’s an art form, really. Here’s what it takes to do it, and to do it well.
After You Do, Coach
“I became a coach because I wanted to make an impact on people’s lives. I thought on my own experiences and struggles as a player—I had my ups and downs—and I thought I could help others.”
“Every individual is different. There are certain techniques that will really work for one player but then not for another. My goal is to figure out how a player learns and then teach him that way. This speeds up the learning process so that he matures faster as a player.”
Nature vs. Nurture
“Genetics do play a role in terms of talent, but I think there are opportunities for all kids to play the position at some level. Sometimes you do have to have the uncomfortable conversation, though.”
“I’ll tell someone if I think his expectations are unrealistic. I think my business has taken off because I’m really honest with people. I have a lot of college coaches contacting me, and I really have to be careful that I’m accurate in who I’m promoting.”
Attention to Detail
“The trick is to break down the throw into every single tiny movement. But you have to do it so the player can speed it up and not think about it. That’s the hard part.”
More Than a Game
“As a coach, you’re kind of a mentor. I try to talk to these kids about what it’s going to be like; I tell them these are the things I went through and that you’ll probably go through. How to deal with your money, what to say or not to say on social media, that stuff. I think these things are just as important as teaching them how to do a three-point drop or how to shift their weight.”