Last week I had the great pleasure of running a four day Excellence in Training Course with 16 passionate, energetic and skilled trainers from a variety of disciplines. During the discussion on ‘Unintended Consequences of Well Intentioned Training’ (a phrase I regularly borrow from Ken Murray) I talked about my concern over using fitness as a punishment in training. I am not a fan of punishing people in training at all. I am an advocate of natural consequences for less desirable behaviors but that is a whole other post in the future. I am adamantly opposed to using fitness as a punishment. If you have been reading this blog for a while you would have seen my views on this topic in the August 18, 2009 post.
In every class when I bring this up the discussion always goes to individual views and experiences of the trainers in the room. Some law enforcement trainers state they have no negative association to learning based on having to do physical fitness as a punishment. Others have told me they hate pushups, sprints or running in general as a result of it being used as punishment in training. The former military people always talk about the value of ‘pain assisted learning’ based on their basic training experience. Todays post is not to rehash this topic, but to address a a different topic that arose as a result of this discussion.
When I asked the class for an example of a time when they had to do pushups as punishment the example that came up was a firearms related one: drop a magazine with rounds in it on the range – do pushups as punishment. The intent is to instill in officers the understanding that dropping a magazine in the middle of a gunfight is going to be less desirable.
I believe (based on my 20 years experience as a trainer) that most officers will have one of two responses when they drop a magazine on the range:
- Shit. Oh well, push ups are no big deal. I can do pushups all day long.
- Shit. Now I have to do pushups. I hate pushups.
Here is my concern. Both of those responses are less desirable. If an officer drops a magazine in the middle of a gunfight, and I am sure it happens, I want them to be conditioned to immediately fix the problem, not be concerned about pushups. I am sure that is exactly what every other trainer wants as well. My question then is why do we seek to punish people rather than train them to solve problems and get back in the fight. Even if that thought concerning the pushups only lasts a few seconds those are valuable seconds better spent fixing the issue.
Now, some of you are saying we don’t do THAT in our training. OK. What do you do? Regardless of what area we teach we all need to step back and continually ask ourselves if we are ingraining the most desirable real world behaviors in our officers during our training drills.
Important Information: The latest book from Warrior Spirit Books If I Knew Then: Life Lessons From Cops on the Street is finally in print. This book is a collection of 37 essays from over 30 law enforcement professionals around North America who sought to answer the question: What is one thing you know now that you wish you had known at the start of your career? This book contains powerful insights and wisdom gained through over a half a century of law enforcement experience.
This book is a must read for every law enforcement officer, Trainer, recruit and Field Training Officer.
The book is available at www.warriorspiritbooks.com. I will also have copies available for sale during my April 16 Harnessing the Winning Mind and Warrior Spirit Seminar in Glendale Heights, IL and at the ILEETA Conference in Wheeling, IL April 19 to 24.