Officers can use several strategies to enhance their training. Going to courses offered by other law enforcement agencies or reputable private vendors requires several people to be involved. There must be an instructor/facilitator for the training, and seldom will these courses be presented if only one or two attendees sign up.
These courses often have a cost factor that must be absorbed by the individual officer, and usually require the officer to schedule time away from work and family.
Another option is to find a training partner who enjoys and is similarly motivated to take on additional training. Even this method requires at least one other person.
The reason I bring up these training choices is due to the most often heard excuses about why officers do not seek additional training:
• I cannot find time to put aside for additional training
• I do not have money to attend additional training, and the agency will not pay for me to go
• I can’t find anybody to practice with
The list goes on, of course, but those are the big three.
There is one very effective strategy that:
• Costs nothing
• Does not require others to participate
• Does not require much pre-planning
• Can be done at almost any time of the day
Rehearsing Your Run
Remember the Winter Olympics in 1984? OK, I realize some you were only “an itch in your daddy’s pants” in 1984, but follow along anyhow.
The world was introduced to the Mahre brothers, and to the twins’ use of visual rehearsal. The cameras focused on them as the ski racers closed their eyes and “practiced” the run in their mind’s eye.
Jack Nicklaus — one of the best golfers of all time — would use this technique to visualize hitting the ball with perfect swing, seeing the ball’s trajectory and where he wanted it to land.
Making Practice Real
I recently helped out in the baton training at a local academy. One of the recruits was swinging the baton, but it was apparent that he was only going through the motions. He swings looked weak and I would have considered them ineffective. After a short “tune-up” with the recruit and getting him mechanically correct again, I told him to now close his eyes and listen to me.
I told him to “see” the suspect trying to attack him. I gave him specifics on what the suspect looked like — stay away from “fighting stance” only as a description. I told him the suspect was going to hit him with his fists. The recruit now swung hard and at the correct level for an arm strike. He was more determined, and the end product was a more effective-looking strike. He was given encouragement to keep doing this and add other possible scenarios to the mix, and with other threat level suspects.
Making the visualization as real as possible is the best practice. It is good to “see” the suspect, but it is better to also engage your other senses in the training.
“Hear” the suspect telling you about your family lineage, “smell” the associated odors that might be present, “feel” the strike when it is delivered.
This way you will get the entire picture.
Another important aspect of visualization training is to “see” the winning outcome. The brain will absorb this training scenario and store it away for future use. When you are presented with a similar problem situation in real life, your brain will search for contextual cues to help you come to a solution. We have seen this play out in Force Option Simulation training as well as other types of training.
I remember as a recruit in the FTO program when my FTOs would play the “what if” game. This was effective, and I used it as well when I was an FTO. In order to get the best value out of the visualization training I would recommend changing the “what if” question into a “when this happens I will” statement.
We all know it’s not a question of “if,” but of “when.”
The Worry Solution: Using Breakthrough Brain Science to Turn Stress and Anxiety Into Confidence and Happiness; Martin Rossman, M.D.
How to Make a Mountain Out of a ’Molehill’; Sue Spencer