• Six Areas of Focus for Tactical Facilitators to Address When Training Police
    To overcome the unique challenge of training police officers, tactical facilitators should focus on the following six areas to ensure success. From the NSCA TSAC Report.
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  • six_tipsTactical facilitators are faced with a difficult task when training police officers. They strive to not only improve performance, but also prevent training injuries to the police officers, or tactical athletes, that they train. The following are six areas of focus for tactical facilitators to address when training this tactical population.

    1. The Time of Day
    Time of day can be a big factor in relative fatigue of the tactical athlete. The tactical facilitator should be aware of the changes in relative intensity due to outside humidity and temperature in the training environment. For example, when performing an outside pre-academy and post-academy physical assessment test on police officers, the time of year can play a factor in the margin of improvement.

    If the squad tests in the winter first and then the summer, the temperature outside will affect the average margin of improvement relative to other squads testing at different times of the year. This is not as important when comparing the best-fit tactical athletes to others in the same squad but it is especially important when comparing overall performance.

    2. Frequency of Training
    It is important when scheduling physical conditioning, to take a look at the entire schedule of training. When the fitness schedule is mapped out for a squad, training progression, and frequency of training should be taken into consideration. Most course lessons (such as Defensive Tactics or Firearms) in an academy setting are scheduled based on a set number of lessons.

    The lessons are typically referred to in a numerical order and built on skills in a set order. The same pattern is used for every squad and outlined by the number of lessons and specific objectives that are skill-based. The physical conditioning sessions should be developed with other blocks of training that could affect fatigue levels in mind.

    3. Teach to the Top 10%
    Regardless of a physical fitness entry requirement, always teach to the top 10% of fitness levels in the squad. The worst of all possibilities is to coach to the least fit and risk lowering the fitness levels of the best tactical athletes. Oftentimes, a tactical facilitator will change an exercise when they see tactical athletes getting fatigued and losing form. This is a problem because the most unfit tactical athletes can then dictate the frequency of exercise variety based on their poor fitness levels. 
    The worst of all possibilities is to coach to the least fit and risk lowering the fitness levels of the best tactical athletes.The fit tactical athletes will consequently not get the type of fatigue they expect. The fatigue often is not only physical but it can be psychological. To demonstrate their psychological willingness to complete the task, tactical athletes must be able to improve their poor form and respond to any direction given to them by the cadre of tactical facilitator. If they are physically unable to perform the exercise correctly, they should be given the opportunity to momentarily reduce intensity and immediately resume the exercise. This allows the tactical athlete to momentarily change the pattern of fatigue, prevent possible injury, and keep moving to demonstrate willingness to perform.

    4. Develop a Consistent Set of Rules for the Physical Training Arena
    Every tactical facilitator in an academy has their own set of experiences and perceptions of what should and should not be permissible in training. In order to guide a program properly, the tactical facilitator should implement the same sets of rules that apply to everyone.

    These rules can often be understood between instructors that have been working together for a long time, but when a new instructor comes in there are often inconsistencies in discipline that can confuse the tactical athletes. These rules range from simple communication to weight room protocols. When an instructor creates a new guideline or rule to be followed, every instructor must be made aware of this. It seems like a simple concept but is hard to implement in every instance.

    5. Lead by Example
    The tactical facilitator should be able to demonstrate every exercise they ask of their tactical athletes. Tactical facilitators that look like they are in shape but never physically perform any exercises undermine their own credibility. Leadership is not just demonstration but appearance as well. Every tactical facilitator should be dressed the same. If the squad is not allowed to carry a towel or wear gloves then the tactical facilitators should not be allowed to carry such items. Leadership from the top down creates a psychological advantage and provides much needed stability.

    6. Tactical Facilitators Must Conduct Safety Checks and Remain Vigilant During Training
    It is important that all tactical facilitators continually move around the tactical athletes while they train to observe them to make sure they are performing every exercise with proper form. Injuries often occur when tactical facilitators passively watch the squad. It is important to reinforce proper lift mechanics if a tactical athlete struggles with execution of an exercise.

    Being a tactical facilitator in a police training academy can be rewarding as well as potentially punishing. Physical fitness trainers often coach without formal training and it is assumed that they know how to instruct training sessions just because they graduated the academy. It is important that tactical facilitators, or anyone in a similar position, gain the necessary knowledge to properly instruct and prescribe training to avoid injury and promote development.

    Tactical facilitators are encouraged to seek ongoing professional development through such organizations as the National Strength and Conditioning Association to ensure that the tactical athletes they train receive the most relevant and accurate strength and conditioning information to help avoid training injuries.

    The entire TSAC Report is available to NSCA Members. Visit the Membership Page to learn more.
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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