Human Performance, Performance | Jan 2, 2020
As we move into 2020, we look at how the Boston Celtics, Toronto Blue Jays, Paris St-Germain, the UFC and world renowned AFL Architects view the future of practice facilities.

In numerous ways the performance facilities depicted throughout this Performance Special Report represent the future.

By John Portch

Whether it is the growing use of sports science modalities or the creation of an environment specifically geared to the physical, psychological and the emotional needs of needs of athletes, how the high performance environment of the future bears only passing resemblance to those in vogue only ten years ago.

Duncan French, UFC:

We are really started to look at brains, the training above the neck, as the new frontier in sports science. There’s a lot of complexity around understanding the role of the brain and that’s why our knowledge in it has been limited until now, but the science and the understanding of the role of the brain in cognition in performance then we can start putting it in to an applied setting. Whether we start to look at laboratories or vision training and cognitive function and let’s call it brain training, as part of our facility inasmuch as downstairs you’re working out, you’re sweating, you are doing all the things you expect in terms of a workout, we can also challenge your workout through higher brain centres and really that’s to tap into the control mechanisms that drive every aspect of the body. Our understanding of integrated science is really starting to improve now; long gone are the days of looking at things in isolation. Then the other piece is individualisation, whether it’s been nutrition or supplements and dietary factors or whether it be blood-borne characteristics and understanding biological profiling and genetics or whether it be looking at muscle growth rates and genetic responses to training load.

Martin Buchheit, Paris Saint-Germain:

I think there’s always a link with the development of technology. I’m definitely not saying that the technology is the solution, but if the technology is used wisely it can be a very good way to save time and increase our ability to get more information on what players do and how they respond to the training. I’m talking about load management, monitoring aspects, communication again making sure that everyone has the education as we discussed with the screens. We are imagining a connected training centre in the near future. There are technological aspects that are going to help us save a lot of time when it comes to collecting information. How this information is used efficiency to impact the program has however no link with the technology per se, but rather relates to our ability to make informed decisions and inter-personal communication.

Angus Mugford, Toronto Blue Jays:

If you’re talking about the next few years, the development around technology and the importance of capturing effective and meaningful data, I think that clearly has a massive impact on things. The bigger lower-hanging fruit, but the things that people miss is how to design really effective collaborative space. One thing that’s clearly happening across the sports industry is that more and more people are involved in what used to be a very small coaching team; it has exponentially grown, even if you just think about an analytics team. For most teams now it’s getting bigger and bigger and so I think how you effectively get people communicating together and working through things together as efficiently and effectively is something the design can impact. That is one of the primary concerns for designers and architects: how do you make a workspace efficient and inspiring for people to be in?

Art Horne, Boston Celtics:

I think you’re going to find a very individualised approach to player recruitment. With that said, we already have a barber chair in our facility and now I don’t think you could find a facility now without a barber chair but I think you’re going to find DJ studios, recording studios, I think you’ll find that players are now involved in so many other things than playing basketball; our players hang around the facility to have treatment or be with coaches or watch film, so I think there are other areas that players are really excited about being involved with. Most teams have player development personnel to build player or help them to develop themselves outside of basketball and I think you’re going to see more of that creep into facility and that may be personal development space, how do you develop your own brand, social media, music, entertainment, those kinds of crossover pieces, it’ll make its way into facility design.

Jay Wessland, Boston Celtics:

I agree with Art, but I also think it’s true of society. I think that your average corporate office has more of those type of things added to it every day, every year, as well. So I think that’s a movement of society in general in the modern world, but certainly it’s true or more true in our business.

John Roberts and Phil Osborne, AFL Architects:

We’re starting to see a lot more community usage for training facilities, certainly at Premier League level, and that also enables you to get more efficient use of the facilities you’re building. A Category A training ground at a professional football club in the UK is required now to provide an enclosed indoor pitch and the preference is for a full-sized one. They are more often favoured by academies than first teams and lend themselves to academy work; the result is that you get much more efficient use of the money you’re spending per pound by getting that wider use. All that has to be done to facilitate that is proper management of time and access.

This exclusive feature has been extracted from our latest Special Report: Building for Success. Download the full report by clicking below, and keep an eye out for our next Special Report landing in just a few weeks’ time.

The Performance Summit Charlotte

High performance environments will be just one of the topics up for discussion at our event in Charlotte on 3-4 February as our members prepare to out-think, out-prepare and out-perform the competition. Click here to find out more about the event.

Sign up to our newsletters

To ensure you’re keeping up to date with the latest intelligence, sign up (for free) to receive newsletters. Get exclusive insight from top organisations worldwide on leadership & culture, human performance, coaching & development and data & innovation.


Become a member

Join our exclusive community of 600 leading global performance organisations to target all aspects of high performance and challenge thinking with access to premium events, unlimited thought-leading content & networking opportunities. 

Become a member