It’s almost a rite of passage for the best professional sports teams to have a day out paintballing together. We’ve seen Premier League football clubs as well as rugby players and the England Cricket Team alongside one another posing for pictures in their camouflage jumpsuits. But these trips are often requested by the teams’ management and coaching staff. Team building isn’t unique to the world of sport but top sports stars seem to head for the paintball range far more often than most. Here are some of the major reasons why.
This is the key thing for a lot of managers. There is an almost military-style togetherness that can be found by taking part in an extreme sport such as paintballing together. Getting stuck into the mud and cooperating to reach a shared goal is just the right attitude to have if you’re at a top sports team. It’s easy to see why so many managers encourage this kind of thing. One such example is the Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Nuno Espirito Santo who has always encouraged his players to go paintballing together. It doesn’t matter whether they’ve been paintballing before or not.
“We used to go paintballing and zipwiring as a squad,” recalls Hassan ‘Kouka’ Ahmed who played under Santo at the Portuguese side Rio Ave.
“It was a little bit risky but it was fun and brought the group together. After matches and training, the squad would spend time together and this was something he thought was important – he wants everyone to be united and sometimes he does different things to create a good atmosphere.”
Team leadership and communication is also a big part of paintballing. Depending on the type of game, participants may have to come up with some rather unique solutions to problems being faced with them. They could have to capture an enemy base or steal a flag. Some people take charge in these situations and it’s on them to communicate their plans with others as clearly as possible.
These are all traits that are absolutely vital in the world of sport. Whether you’re playing football, rugby, or cricket, it’s important to have people on the pitch that can solve the problems their team is facing and make sure their teammates fall in line. If you want to be one of those people, it may be worth brushing up on your paintballing knowledge.
Breaks Down Barriers
This is especially important with new players. During the January transfer window, Manchester United signed the Portuguese international midfielder Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP. He had a decent start to life in Manchester but in early February, the Premier League team embarked on a short winter break in Spain. The club used this opportunity to bond with some paintballing, something that defender Luke Shaw spoke about at the time.
“There are a lot of good friendships in the squad,” Shaw said in February.
“The big bonus has been the bonding side of it. At home people are off with their families, but out here everyone’s together pretty much all the time.
“And with Bruno being so new, it was a great chance for everyone to get to know him, not just as a player.”
This clearly worked out well. Since then, Bruno Fernandes has become an important part of Manchester United’s team and is already a valued member of the squad behind the scenes. Go back just a few months and it looked like their season was coming off the rails. They’re now closing in on a second Europa League title in four years and are the 15/8 second-favourites on Betway as of 12 August to do just that. A lot of that is down to the immediate impact of Fernandes since joining the club. Paintballing must have been a big part of the club’s plan to induct him into the side.
Physical Fitness & Endurance
Paintballing can be a pretty demanding activity. Crawling through the mud and ducking behind cover can put the body into some rather unique positions that a footballer or rugby player wouldn’t usually do.
There are often moments in a paintballing session that forces participants to get moving. Chasing down an opponent or charging a defensive position can provide opportunities to break out into a full-blown sprint. This is especially true in zombie paintball and it gets even harder when you’re dressed in a full camouflage jumpsuit and carrying a paintball gun. The good thing about paintball is that isn’t too taxing. Athletes are unlikely to get overly fatigued after taking part so it won’t affect the day job. All of this adds up to explain why so many professional sports teams turn to paintballing as a way to improve their fortunes on the pitch.