Wide Receiver D.K. Metcalf Shows Athletes How to Strive for More

Be brave enough to try something new.  


DeKaylin Metcalf, the wide receiver, stunned the world when he ran the 40 yard dash at the Combine. That energy was never lost and he used it to dig into the starting blocks against the world’s elite track and field sprinters on May 9, 2021. He didn’t have the fastest time but he proved he was more than a football player...D.K. will always be an athlete first. 


Athletes spend countless hours perfecting their craft. But it takes a certain mindset to look beyond what you’re trained to do. However, the benefits of going against the status quo are valuable no matter the result. 


“Elite athletes continuously challenge themselves in the things they do, whether it’s pushing themselves in practice or setting a goal and going after it,” says Paul Winsper, Under Armour’s VP of Global Athlete Performance. “It’s important to have your mind approach a challenge as an opportunity rather than a threat. This leads to improved performance that can be achieved through a variety of channels such as goal setting, positive affirmation and visualization.”  


“With the right approach, athletes can build the psychological resilience to react positively to a challenge and take their physical abilities to the next level. Being able to push yourself, mentally and physically in training or competition, will prepare you for what is still come – even if it’s not expected.” NEED PAUL APPROVAL

Paul Winsper

In MONTH, YEAR, D.K. came to Under Armour and asked for support – but not support on the field, he was seeking support on the running track. He was in search for an essential edge in terms of performance for training and race day, with his eyes set on racing at the 2021 USA Track & Field Golden Games and Distance Open. UA’s run experts got to work and set him up with UA Sprint Pro 3 track spike. The UA Sprint Pro 3 features a full-length, ultra-stiff spike plate to lessen energy loss, and consists of a level of upper strength and containment that keeps an athlete’s foot centered on the platform over the course of 100-meters. 


The appetite to meet challenges head on isn’t new for D.K. He competed in high school football and track, overcame a broken neck in college, and in his first two professional football seasons has quieted the pundits who challenged him on draft day. This latest challenge wasn’t just about proving them wrong again, it was about doing something that so many have been afraid to do. And inspiring others to view challenges as opportunities to get better – to strive for more. 


“Every piece of Under Armour footwear, equipment and apparel product that is created begins with the Athlete. We immerse ourselves deeply into the performance of our athletes in order to unlock their full potential and ultimately provide them with groundbreaking products that make them better. For our sprint spike collection, we leveraged our Biomechanics team to analyze how the athlete moves at every phase and built around the premise of maximizing the efficiency for every stride.”

Josh Rattet, Under Armour VP of Global Footwear

As soon as D.K. stepped on the track, there were doubts. Aton Boldon, four-time Olympic sprinter and television analyst, predicted that D.K. would, “run something 10.5ish if he has a good race. If not, it’s gonna be slower.”  


But rising to the challenge is what it’s all about.  


D.K. put his mindset and training to work by finishing the 100-meter race with a 10.36 time and stayed with the pack through the first 85-meters. In a post-race interview on NBC Sports, he said that “these are world-class athletes, and they do this for a living. It's very different from football speed, from what I just realized.”  


Post-race Aton Boldon was quick to correct his initial predication saying, “this should encourage every fast NFL guy, you're not that far off. Some more training, maybe you get in the conversation for the Olympic trials for the United States.


“Sport specialization can be an advantage, but it can also start to adapt the body and mind so much that you solely become built for that sport,” said Mike Watts, director of athlete performance. “Stepping out of that sport then requires a completely different recruitment of muscles, firing pattern from the brain to body, and way of thinking to train and compete.” 


“I'm an athlete first, so I just do things because I want to do it.”

D.K. Metcalf said post-race to NBC Sports

Despite the outcome, stepping up to the challenge and looking past the noise brought D.K. great praise from the entire sports community–from pro-runners, teammates and opponents, inspired fans and young athletes. Moreover, it showed a wide audience that with mental resilience, an athlete can not only overcome difficult situations, but also apply that mindset to creating new opportunities for themselves beyond what they – or anyone else – may have imagined. 


Win or lose, D.K.’s actions in the football offseason embody the mindset of a UA athlete to always getting better.