Roman gladiators were put through rigorous physical and psychological training that included instructions on how to behave, how to die and how to perform various war and combat tactics to stay alive during fights. Roman gladiators were thoroughly examined by physicians and trainers before being allowed to join training camps. Once accepted, gladiators learned how to use various tools such as shields and wooden swords, and how to ride horses to give themselves the greatest advantage during combat.
Gladiators were often trained in special training schools. Over 100 training facilities existed in ancient Rome, which looked and operated like prison systems. Gladiators were essentially prisoners, although they were deemed valuable because of their roles as soldiers, which allowed them to receive better treatment than other slaves. Gladiators came in many sizes, and had different sets of skills that made them valuable for different combat situations. Some proved to have exceptionally good equine handling skills and served as horseback-mounted soldiers. Other gladiators, particularly the largest and most athletic men, were trained to engage in hand-to-hand combat on the battlefield. Some gladiators were equipped with minimal amounts of equipment, which allowed them to run quickly and launch rapid attacks, while others were heavily armed.