Mind & Body To Win

Three Officers

Officer A has an intense will to win regardless of the conditions or circumstances. He practices visualization and mental rehearsal on a regular basis.

Officer B is well trained in his suspect control and firearms skills and practices on his own.

Officer C is confident in her abilities based on the fact that she trains on her own in unarmed combat, practices dry-firing her duty pistol and regularly visits the range for live-fire practice. Her instructors at her police agency have included confrontation simulation in her in-service training and she uses visualization to see herself overcoming violent resistance.

Based on the mental aspects as well as the physical preparations, which officer should perform better in a violent confrontation?

The Mind

We oftentimes hear that the mind's preparation is more important than the physical or, The moral is to the physical as three to one (Napoleon). But intent without skill is only a hollow defense. So only training the mind through visualization, guided imagery and mental rehearsal is like the boxer stepping into the ring with no foundational skills or sparring under his belt. Seeing yourself do well in a gunfight is vastly different from practiced firearm and tactics skills built in dry and live fire. It is hard to imagine an officer with an intense will to win that does not engage in the physical training necessary to make winning a reality.

The Body

Skill without intent and emotion is just a physical action. Traditional static line firearms training prepares an officer for a gun-battle about as much as coach pitch prepares a young hardball player for the big leagues. We often see the best shooters fall apart when paired with another less skilled but intent shooter in competition. Standing on the line with no intent, motivation, resolve or emotion waiting for a whistle to blow is not properly preparing. Qualification (display of minimum performance levels) is not training and our training shouldn't resemble qualifications. Training and practice successfully hardwire a motor program that you can replicate under stress.

The Mind / Body to Win

The difference in coupling the mind and body and working on both is that they feed on each other and empower you to a successful outcome. Intent and motivation are needed to practice on a regular basis, practice leads to competence which increases confidence. Confidence reduces anxiety and leads to an improved performance - on and on the cycle goes.

Even in activities like qualification we can see the difference between an officer approaching the event like an activity versus an officer motivated to win. To look downrange and see the target not as a piece of paper but rather a deadly threat that must be quickly and aggressively stopped with accurate gunfire. The mentally engaged and practiced officer is not worried about not qualifying, for that thought is out of the question. The skilled officer training with intent and emotion is pressuring herself to shoot a perfect score or to shoot accurately faster than everyone else, etc. The motivated officer approaching the range training session will attempt to exercise proper tactics under the realization that they will do on the street as they have trained to do.

Focus mitts, training shields and bags are not pieces of training equipment. They represent a criminal suspect intent on inflicting damage that must be aggressively stopped with the proper application of overwhelming force. We hit them properly with intent and emotion driving through them and dumping sufficient kinetic energy to stop a human being. If all we do is stand and throw feeble strikes and blows or go through the motions, why on Earth should we think that on the street when the encounter is for real, that we’ll win?

From static blocked training sessions where we repeat skills again and again to ingrain them we need to go to random training events where we must be forced to download the skills we've trained from our short-term memory in response to a stimulus and shoot, move and communicate. Life is a live-fire 360 degree environment that forces us to react and respond to outside threats.

The trained officer bringing adequate skill, intent and emotion to the fight needs another component in his arsenal - confrontation simulation. He or she needs to go up against another living, breathing human being that can think, aggress, move, throw blows and shoot back. Our officers need that added component of uncertainty, fear and anxiety to course through their system so that they learn to overcome it and operate under its influence. They need to feel their heart pound in their chests as they enter an SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System) reaction to perceived threats.

Mind / Body Training

In short, officers need to train:

  • Realistically
  • Regularly
  • With Intent
  • With Emotion
  • Under Stress (whether self created or by trainers)
  • With Intensity
  • Against another human being
  • Training their brains and their bodies through physical and mental training involving emotion, focus, drive and motivation

Proper training and practice develops your will and skill (Mind / Body) to win! Invest in it with the understanding that you want and need both aspects to win the day and emerged unscathed!

Two excellent books (linked below) have just been published on this subject and I highly recommend you study them both.