Skillsoft Blog

Learn (and Win) Like a Professional Football Player

Ann cantrellBy Ann Cantrell

NFL players participate in blended learning. Who would have thought it! Imagine a typical week during an NFL season. Players spend countless hours reviewing film – critiquing their own mistakes and studying their upcoming opponent. Coaches present and distribute new game plans every week. Players listen, study, and take notes. Why spend so many hours sharpening their skills? Their success will be measured on the field every Sunday. As a professional athlete they are paid to win.

As professionals in any industry, at any level, our success is also measured. Maybe you are asked to lead a project to deploy a new software system to a global audience of 20,000 employees. Perhaps you are a guest service agent in hospitality services who aspires to be a hotel manager. How are you preparing for tomorrow’s success? Do you step out of your daily role once every couple of months to attend training? Or are you threading and embedding learning and development into your daily professional life?

What would the results be on the field of an NFL game if the players hadn’t embedded development and skill-building into their daily regimen? What if they didn’t study film of their opponent or take the time to assess their mistakes? What if they ignored this week’s new game plan because they thought last week’s was recent enough? What if they limited their development to one or two off-site team training events per year? Would they walk away with a win on game day?

Many organizations emphasize talent at the recruitment stage. They believe that by bringing in highly educated, experienced, and skilled employees they can spend less time and money on employee development. Using our football example, consider this: high school football players have a 6.5 percent chance of playing college football. College football players have just a 1.6 percent chance of playing in the NFL. In other words, of the more than one million high school football players, only 254 will be drafted by the NFL[1]. It is safe to say that the NFL only recruits the best of the best. Yet, they still focus countless hours on developing their players. There is a consistent focus on continuous learning, improvement, and being more successful tomorrow than you are today.

Why do we, in our own industries, segment learning as a separate activity from our daily professional lives? Yet we still expect to be successful contributors to the organizations and customers whom we support. There is a better approach, and it’s called Blended Learning. Blended Learning doesn’t require an army of L&D staff. In fact, Skillsoft has developed a simple framework called the Eight Phases of Workplace Learning, which can be downloaded at

This approach breaks down the required components of learning, retaining, and applying knowledge and skills in an easy to follow method. Better yet, our team of Customer Success Consultants can guide you in charting a blended learning plan to drive performance in your organization.

Don’t wait until the off-season to sharpen your skills. Focus on professional development as a critical ongoing component of your game plan. Get out there and win!

Ann Cantrell is a customer success consultant at Skillsoft.



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