What Can You Learn From Other Sports?

  • March 20th, 2019
  • Tom Bean

Ask most sportspeople and they will often reel off a list of the importance of playing different sports as a youngster. Some will even say that they are still participating and learning from other sports to improve their performance at the peak of their career.

So if individuals are regularly encouraged to learn different skills from other sports during their development, why shouldn't coaches follow suit and dip into other sports to learn how to adapt their style and tactics to be more effective?

Throughout sport, it's not uncommon to see elite coaches go to fellow elite setups to compare coaching styles and learn how techniques can be transferred to their own sport. Cricket coach, Julian Wood has worked with the ECB to improve the one-day teams power hitting.

To develop his own ideas and improve players knowledge and feel for hitting big, Wood called upon Major Baseball League coach, Scott Coolbaugh, to find 'a different way of doing things.' Focussing on the biomechanics and principles of Baseball, he's transferred the skills used in MLB to cricketers playing the shorter formats of the game.

Crossing over into other sports is a great way to recognise different approaches to develop your team physically and share tactical concepts. In certain sports, the crossover is particularly similar making it easy for coaches to discover how notions an be transferred into their own coaching.

Hockey - Football

Pressing is an ever-growing presence in football. As more teams look to play out from the back, the ball is on the floor more meaning the outletting and pressing styles and patterns share many similarities with hockey.

What to take from the crossover?


Hockey coaches look to press the oppositions defence by getting their forwards to split the pitch to attempt to keep the ball to one side to limit their passing options. This allows the midfield to step forward, in front of their players with the aim of winning the ball higher up the field.


Moving the ball out of defence in hockey often requires passing the ball into midfield more than it does with football. The benefits of being able to move the ball quickly in both sports is that it can draw defenders in to create space elsewhere on the field.

In football, the temptation to go long at lower levels is high. Therefore as a coach, going to see how a hockey coach (whose option to go long are more limited) get their players to outlet successfully by looking at the movement on and off the ball.

Netball - Football/Hockey

Effective leading in netball is absolutely vital to becoming a successful player. The size of the court means space is often at a premium so by being able to find a yard of space to receive the pass is a core skill for all netballers.

What to take from the crossover?


In football and hockey, players need to be able to lead to offer a pass for the ball carrier - it's essential in playing a fast, effective style of play and although being able to move with the ball, a lot can be learnt from netball.

When a netballer leads, the rest of the team move off of them with everyone being aware of one anothers movement, most importantly the receiver who must move the ball on again quickly. This requires effective reading of the play to recognise where the next pass is.

In hockey and football, the longer the player holds onto the ball, the next pass can be missed, inviting pressure. Therefore by learning how netballers move and read the play to create the space and then pass the ball on quickly will be a great lesson for football and hockey coaches.

Basketball - Rugby

In both sports, teams develop specific plays to set up screens and decoy runs to create space to penetrate the defence and make scoring opportunities. The success of these are based on the players recognising the situation and honouring the movement of teammates. And finally, both require quick hands to be able to pull off fast, attacking play.

What to take from the crossover?


A rugby coach will be able to take a lot from the basketball court on how they get the players to create gaps to penetrate in small space. Although screens are illegal in rugby, the way the plays are practiced can be a great insight into how to transfer it to the rugby pitch.

When working with the backs, decoy runs can be treated in the same way as how screens distract attention from the ball carrier to allow them to dictate play.


Basketball is played at high speed and players need to be able to move the ball quickly, often with one hand. This takes practice and is a valuable asset to a rugby team who is looking to move the ball quickly too.

The speed of the pass is often dictated by the timing of the run from the receiver. Therefore, as a rugby coach, recognising how basketball teams practice the speed of their hands and develop the peripheral vision to make connections, will pay dividends in their own rugby sessions.

Cricket - Baseball

As shorter formats of cricket become more influential, the emphasis on power-hitting is growing - being able to clear the ropes is fast becoming the skill that every batsman is aiming to perfect.

Baseball is a game built upon being able to hit the ball hard and far. As we've seen already cricket coaches are delving into Baseball to take inspiration from their counterparts to create some of the biggest hitters in cricket.

What to take from the crossover?


Traditional cricket strokes and subsequently, the coaching of them, are often not suited to producing players to excel in the shorter formats of the game. As a cricket coach, understanding how baseball players generate the force to hit a home run will create more powerful cricket players.

Focus on how baseball players create space for themselves initially with their stance. Adapting a cricketers to suit will allow them to clear their front leg, giving them a wider base to generate power from and complete a swing with full range of movement. The transfer of power comes from the biomechanics - from the stance, up through the core to the angle of the bat.

Short format cricket specialists have moved away from the 'straight bat' way of thinking and baseball has a lot to offer a coach in terms of how to develop their players to adopt this mentality effectively.

'Marginal gains' is the trend that everyone loves talking about in coaching - the small 1%'s that add up to make a big difference. By venturing into a different sports, coaches recognise how to overcome potential issues from different perspectives and where they can adapt their coaching accordingly.

Get thinking outside of the box today and discover how a coach from a different sport can help you overcome a problem within your team!