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3 Lessons You Can Learn from an NFL Training Camp

by Leslie Ungar

My first two cars were Orange and Brown. Not great colors for a car, but great colors for a Cleveland Browns fan. My first real purchase when I started working was two Browns season tickets. I was both an official Browns Supporter and an unofficial Browns supporter who really was at the 4th longest NFL game ever, the January 3, 1987 – AFC Divisional Playoff Game.

Recently I attended my first ever Training Camp. I was amazed and impressed with what the NFL has done with what is truly just “practice”.

5 lessons learned from a football training camp that anyone can learn from:

1. Make it an Event – Make Anything an Event

Brown’s Training Camp is open to the public until close to the start of the season. “Park at Baldwin Wallace and walk” were the instructions posted on the Browns website. The walk to the Training Facility added to the carnival-like atmosphere. From babies carried by sweaty dads to seniors with walkers, they came. The Browns, and all NFL teams, have made the boring sameness of practice into a Big Event: concessions, Food Trucks, Browns paraphernalia, toddlers in Haden jerseys and Pittsburgh haters in abundance. They even conjured up sunshine on the day I was there.

You can make anything an event, even Practice. Players don’t even like practice. Footnote Allen Iverson’s infamous, “practice, you mean practice?” The NFL jumped upon the opportunity to attract fans, extend the season, solidify support, and raise the profile of football during the season of baseball and golf. If mundane practice can be made into an event, what can you do to make an event in your business, profession, or industry?

2. Who is Giving You Water?

I saw a coach give water to players. He gave the water to players differently. For Joe Haden, who is higher profile, he held the bottle and squirted the water into his mouth. For other players he handed them the bottle and they squirted the water themselves. The important thing was that he was proactively giving water to all the players on his unit.

We all need something and someone to help us get what we need to be effective, successful, or at least quenched. So the question is who in your life is squirting water or handing water to you?

3. Orange Shoes   

As I looked out over the field, the players that first stood out were the players wearing orange shoes. Most players were covered in head to toe Cleveland Brown’s brown. The orange shoes were easy to see and seemed to make the feet move faster. Between players, coaches, support staff and security there was 80-100 people on the oversize field.

At closer inspection, Joe Haden was one of the only players wearing orange shows. No matter your profession or wardrobe limitations, you can always figure out a way to stand out. What is yours?

I loved Training Camp. I’m sure most players of any sport would not agree. So many lessons to be learned about how we can stand out and identify, communicate and protect our value in a 21st century way.

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