"If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!"
So you have a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
from the Wrong Side of the Tracks
who want to win a contest or sporting event. Well, they get a trainer, but have no money or equipment, what are they supposed to do? Get creative! Their trainer will think up Wax On, Wax Off
techniques, the players will jury rig ingenious improvised training equipment, and get a lighter form of The Spartan Way
/ Training from Hell
You can tell a group got Improvised Training because they will absolutely marvel at the luxury of well funded professional teams and arenas. The richer, posh kids will sneer at them, while these kids will reply they didn't need sissy advantages or buy success with money.
Despite the zero budget and dubious training methods, it turns out the rougher and unconventional training pays off and helps them win. The more traditional (especially the ultra well funded prep or snooty Legacy Team that always wins) will have such rigid and inflexible mindsets
that the ragtag team keeps catching them by surprise. Be it with creative plays or enduring more pain, or outperforming them. Occasionally, the training itself may even give them comparable or superior physical performance, at times bordering on Charles Atlas Super Powers
Not to be confused with Poor Man's Substitute
about dealing with actors.
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Anime and Manga
- Subverted in Rurouni Kenshin where Sano (a brawler) attempts to train while traveling to Kyoto by knocking down trees with his bare hands. Eventually however he admits, that this isn't really training and he's not learning anything useful by doing it. At least while he's lost in the forest he does meet a mentor who does train him and show him new techniques.
- Eyeshield 21 had this trope going in the beginning. Ojou was so luxurious they owned a castle in Germany for the sole purpose of training in it. Deimon? They pushed a truck half way across the US in a month (part of the reason was also because they didn't have enough money for more gas).
- A Knight's Tale They used jury rigged contraptions to teach William to joust. Plus he had to wear a dead guy’s armor.
- Cool Runnings has the story of the first Jamaican bobsledding team. With such gems as "sliding" on a cart down rocky hills, and locking players in an ice cream truck to acclimate them to the cold.
- Shaolin Soccer, a washed up pro soccer trainer converts a team of washed up kung-fu trained brothers into a team of Super Soccer Kung Fu Monks. With such feats as eggs tossing and catching, and pitting them against a team that uses metal hand tools to bludgeon their opponents.
- In Lagaan the new Indian cricket team chases chickens and the like. Half of their special skills originate from ordinary tasks that they do in their day jobs too.
- The little league baseball team in The Perfect Game. They're poor, have no advantages, and actually have to clean up a church yard of brush, tires, and rocks to get a ball field. Their training consisted in a lot of running, cutting their own bats from wood, and hitting balls made of rubber bands/wire. They do eventually get real bats and balls, though they never see cut grass fields until they start competing.
- Rocky does a version of this in every movie, chasing chickens, using whole cows as heavy bags, lifting logs, etc. Usually done to an 80's Sports Montage and juxatposed with his opponent's high-tech training.
- The opponents high-tech training was only really done in Rocky IV, where the contrast between Rocky lifting boulders and chopping wood and Drago using high-tech equipment with dozens of scientists surrounding him was played up to the extreme
- In Rocky III, this was done with Rocky's opponent
Clubber Lang Mr. T, whos training montage was supposedly based on Mr. T's real life training.
- Clubber Lang's workout is more like self-imposed Training from Hell and his "gym" has been compared to a dungeon.
- A variant in Major League sees the ball players improvising ways to recover from the exertions of training, after the team's hostile owner takes away all their equipment. One player is seen lying in an improvised whirlpool bath made up of an aluminium horse trough, a garden hose, and an outboard boat motor.
- Dodgeball parodies this while playing it straight.
- X-Men: First Class has Charles Xavier using anything he can find on or around his estate to train young mutants.
- British climbers Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker built a plywood training dungeon in Tom's basement where they spent two years training strength and endurance before embarking on a two month tour of America's offwidth crack routes. They swept through most of the classic routes, then climbed the infamous Century Crack making themselves legend in the climbing community. Their training montage is filmed in Reel Rock Tour 7.