Sports team training is no longer limited to physical training only – corporate-type training is being used today for both professional and amateur sports teams. When we think of training and sports teams, we usually think of physical training – the intense workouts, simulations, and training camps that put athletes into peak performance condition. But sports teams, both amateur and professional, are turning to more academic training to ensure the mental fitness of athletes, as well. There are training centers springing up all over the world that cater to both physical and mental training for athletes. On the same lines, some corporate training programs, especially leadership programs, are bringing activities for sports teams into the boardroom. One of the common training elements is communications training. From the basic levels to the intricacies of game day communication, some sports teams are taking up classroom training to learn the art.

Another area of focus for sports teams is personal development training, or mental training. It was once a wide belief that an athlete’s natural talent and hard work could propel him or her into the winner’s circle. Now, performance coaches argue that a big part of athletic success belongs to attitudes, beliefs, or thought processes – some of the very criteria standard corporate training programs are built upon. Through this type of personal development training, athletes are learning better focus, game-day composure, and self-confidence through mental strength.

It would also seem ironic that sports teams need team building training activities, but they do. Just as in corporate teams, changes to pro sports teams make them go through cycles of building, infighting, and performing. Some team training consultants offer ropes courses, firewalks, board breaking, and outdoor survival-type training. And on the opposite side, corporate teams are taking part in the Olympic-style team sports games and survival activities that may have once been reserved for football or baseball teams.

Change management is another traditionally corporate course that’s being used in the world of professional sports. Think about a football game and how each person’s decisions, from coaches down to individual players, can impact the entire game and the entire teams’ success. Teams use change management courses to teach quick decision making based on individual and group needs. Through this type of training, players learn to quickly assess the situation from what they already know and can see and then make decisions.

The notion of “coaching” in the corporate world stemmed from sports coaches to begin with. The corporate world has taken coaching techniques and turned them into processes and models, such as coaching for peak performance or situational leadership. Coaches have begun to move back into the classroom to learn the new corporate techniques – peak performance can be used for athletes and employees.

Because of the unlimited income potential for pro sports teams, many are building serious training programs for their employees, as well. Sales and customer service training has become popular for the concierge staffs, ticket sales, general management, and group sales areas for many pro teams. Owners and team managers see that the experience begins before the fans sit in their seats on game day.

The next time you watch a team game, whether it’s professional or amateur, think about the types of training that may have been applied to put the teams and individual athletes where they are. Think about the similarities between your teams and sports teams – we can borrow training ideas from both sides.

Copyright Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.


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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.