Practice and training are burdens that almost every athlete must deal with on a daily basis. The physical stress that these sessions take on players is extraordinary, especially when combined with the toll that actually playing in games can take on an athlete. Many athletes simply accept practice as one of the necessary requirements of being a professional, but others choose to voice their displeasure or make it known in other ways. Some of them have developed cult followings as a result of their views on practice.
Staying in shape and training are routine requirements that are expected of almost every athlete, however, there are always exceptions to those rules. In some cases, training can actually have a negative effect on athletes and increase the risk for injury. In other cases, athletes simply do not want to participate and view it as a waste of their time and energy. Coaches have approached these situations in various ways, sometimes making exceptions for superstar players, or enforcing strict punishment as a result of an athlete’s actions.
The immortal fictional athlete, Kenny Powers once said, “I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising.” His quote was inspired by athletes that found themselves weighed down by the excessive demands of training and practice. This offers some insight into the life of a professional athlete, who must compete, often in a highly specialized role, but can be required to practice beyond their current level of health or fitness. Their distaste for training has not stopped them from achieving greatness on the field of play, in some cases it has even enhanced their mystique.
10 Cary Williams – Football
After their Week 3 battle against the Washington professional football team, Eagles cornerback Cary Williams complained about the frequency and intensity of practices under head coach Chip Kelly. Williams was burned for an 81-yard touchdown by DeSean Jackson and complained after the game that many Eagles players have been struggling with Kelly’s five-day per week practice schedule. Williams has since apologized to his coach and teammates for the comments. Despite the negative comments, Kelly’s exhausting practice schedule does seem to be working, because the Eagles are 3-0 so far this season.
9 Wayne Rooney – Soccer
Wayne Rooney does not exactly fit into the typical mold of what you would expect from a professional footballer. He smokes, he drinks, and he often appears to be somewhat out of shape. According to former Manchester United fitness coach Mark Clegg, Rooney does not have a fondness for the gym and training. Rooney has often showed up to preseason training camp overweight and has even taken midseason vacations in order to improve his physical condition. As Rooney approaches the age of 30, his distaste for training could lead to further fitness problems. He's even admitted he's no longer the same player he was when he was younger.
8 Michael Huff – Football
Michael Huff’s practice sessions with the Oakland Raiders were so poor, that teammate and former NFL great Warren Sapp said that they “made him want to throw up.” Sapp went on to mention that he could not recall a single instance of Huff making an interception during a practice session. Despite his poor practice habits, Huff was signed to multi-million dollar deals by multiple NFL franchises and even appeared in three games for the Denver Broncos last season during their Super Bowl run. However, the veteran free safety’s poor habits may have caught up to him, because at the age of 31, he currently is not on an NFL roster.
7 Chris Andersen – Basketball
The Birdman Chris Andersen has had a lengthy career in the NBA with many ups and downs. After making his way from junior college through developmental leagues to the NBA, the Birdman served a two year suspension for drug violations. Prior to his suspension, Andersen routinely missed practices and shoot around sessions. After his return to the league, the journeyman center has continued missing practices, although those are excused due to his ongoing battles with injury. Notably, Andersen missed several practices with the Miami Heat during their NBA Finals run last season.
6 Ledley King – Soccer
Throughout his career with Tottenham Hotspur and with the England National Team, Ledley King was plagued by chronic knee pain caused by injuries. In order to conserve his energy and fitness, he was placed on an individual training regimen and did not practice with his teammates. These solo sessions enabled King to continue his career for several seasons before retiring in 2012. Harry Redknapp once said, “He genuinely doesn’t train all week. He came back yesterday for the warm-up and that’s it…He is an absolute freak.”
5 Andrew Bynum – Basketball
Andrew Bynum has had significant struggles with injury over the last few NBA seasons and has seemed to fall out of love with the sport of basketball. Bynum was described by a teammate as being the guy in the league that likes basketball the least. He suffered a setback while recovering from a treatment for arthritic knees, by further injuring his knee while bowling. In 2013, he was kicked out of a Cleveland Cavaliers practice for jacking up half court shots in the middle of a scrimmage. He was ultimately suspended and traded as a result of this outburst.
4 Diego Costa – Soccer
Diego Costa has had a very serious battles with fitness over the last season. His battle to recover from various hamstring injuries have kept his status in doubt several times. Costa even traveled to Serbia to have horse placenta injections in order to speed up the training process. As a result, manager Jose Mourinho has severely limited Diego Costa in training, saying that he can only play once per week. His hamstring problems and lack of full training have not stopped Diego Costa from scoring.He is currently the leading goal scorer in the Premier League with 7 goals in 5 matches.
3 Randy Moss – Football
Randy Moss had to deal with pundits and coaches criticize his efforts on the practice field and in game time situations throughout his storied career. Moss reportedly told offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, “I’m too old to practice Wednesday and Thursday, but not too old to play on Sunday.” Walsh said that Moss would not participate in Friday practices because of his lack of hustle when quarterbacks wanted to approach game speed. Despite not enjoying practice, Moss excelled throughout his career and will surely be a member of the Football Hall of Fame.
2 Usain Bolt – Track & Field
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the fastest man in the world cannot stand training. Usain Bolt has made it known on several occasions that he dislikes intense training sessions. Bolt claims that his intense training workload has led to nagging injuries such as hamstring pulls. Bolt has always enjoyed the party lifestyle, and his laid back approach to training has bothered his father and trainers. Even before breaking the world record in the 100 meter dash, Usain Bolt said that he ate over 1,000 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets over the 10 days he spent in Beijing.
1 Allen Iverson – Basketball
The king of anti-practice rants and malcontent athletes, Allen Iverson is a legend for many reasons. At only 6’0’,’ he was considered undersized for a professional basketball player and his slashing physical style took an extraordinary toll on him throughout his career. After missing several practices under head coach Larry Brown, Iverson’s epic practice rant had media members in the press conference laughing. The rant has since been auto-tuned into music, edited into an inspirational short film, and emulated by many. Despite his distaste for practice, Iverson played the game with an intensity that was almost unmatched during his tenure in the NBA.