Look at the class schedule at your local YMCA and you are bound to see terms like Bootcamp, Combat Training and other military-inspired training classes. No one actually thinks they are going into real combat, but the workouts in these classes are quite similar to true combat training at military bases across the country.
Military training methodology has become so popular that it has been adopted by most, if not all, of the professional and college sports teams in the United States and across the world.
Cognitive Development and Reaction Training with the fitLight
Recently, trainers at military bases have been adding a new layer to their everyday workouts to mimic real-life scenarios such as PT and Shoot House. They use a high-tech device called the fitLight Trainer™, which trains cognitive skills, hand-eye-coordination and more. What's good for the military is also good for athletes.
Brandon Powers, MS, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, trains soldiers on a daily basis. A huge proponent of cognitive training, he has created a workout program that anyone can use. Regarding the fitLight Trainer, he says, "I have never used a piece of equipment like this. It's so versatile."
So what kind of military training does Powers do that can be used by athletes?
1. Target training for shoot and don't shoot reaction training: This program provides visual, motor skills and cognitive training to gain better awareness and responsiveness. Powers trains his soldiers to block out tunnel vision in high stress situations. This kind of training with the fitLight is used in NASCAR as well as many other sports such as hockey, football and basketball.
2. Target acquisition and accuracy: This training involves watching an area to detect changes and acquire targets based on those changes. Basketball point guards are in tune with this kind of fitLight training, as are quarterbacks. Both need to assess situations and react.
3. Tactical courses of fire: Powers designs challenges with the fitLight that test accuracy and handling ability with a firearm under specific controlled conditions. Placed in a hypothetical combat scenario, the soldier uses the light training to work on his or her reaction time. Quarterbacks also use this training to enhance their reaction time.
4. Cognitive awareness drills—shoot/don't shoot: Powers uses this technique, and it's often replicated by athletes. Baseball players use the fitLight to develop cognitive awareness skills, which in turn provide a quicker reaction time at the plate. With this technique, players must improve their cognitive skills and act quickly.
5. Speed, quickness and agility drills: Powers tests his soldiers similar to an NFL pro day. The fitLights are scattered around an area, and when they light up, the soldier races to tap the light to switch it off. This drill can be used with cones, although not as effectively.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock