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Enhancing Soldier Wellness and Performance

Enhancing Soldier Wellness and Performance

By: Kristopher Copeland 

As our understanding of soldier wellness evolves, it’s clear that a comprehensive approach is essential. In today’s military landscape, physical fitness alone isn’t enough – mental toughness is equally crucial. The U.S. Army Combatives Program serves as a prime platform to nurture this mental resilience, offering Soldiers a pathway to peak performance both on and off the battlefield. 

The U.S. Army Combatives Program, which includes hand-to-hand combat training, offers a valuable avenue to promote mental well-being and overall performance among soldiers. Beyond its traditional role in honing physical combat skills, this program has evolved to encompass a broader mission – one that emphasizes the cultivation of mental resilience as a cornerstone of soldier effectiveness.  

 Building Mental Resilience  

 The benefit of combat sports is that they cultivate mental toughness like no other. Soldiers are pushed to their limits, not just physically but mentally, fostering adaptability, perseverance, and a steadfast attitude in the face of adversity. Studies, such as those published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, underscore combat sports’ profound impact on enhancing mental toughness – a cornerstone of soldier effectiveness in high-stress environments. 

 Fostering Unity within Units 

 Engaging in combat sports brings Soldiers together uniquely and intensely. It strengthens team members’ bonds, trust, and camaraderie, enhancing unit cohesion and morale. A 2020 study in the Journal of Military, Veteran, and Family Health found that Soldiers who participated in combatives training reported higher levels of cohesion and teamwork – vital components for mission success. 

Providing an Outlet for Frustration and Stress 

The rigors of military life often lead to pent-up frustration and stress. The Combatives Program provides Soldiers with a constructive outlet to channel these emotions. By engaging in controlled physical exertion, soldiers can mitigate stress and avoid detrimental coping mechanisms. Studies, such as those in the Journal of Military Psychology, affirm the therapeutic benefits of combat sports in stress management among military personnel. 

 Integration of Mental Performance Consultants 

To unlock the full potential of combative training, the integration of mental performance consultants is paramount. These specialists offer soldiers cognitive tools and strategies to optimize their performance in combat and everyday life. From stress management to enhancing focus and resilience, mental performance consultants provide a holistic approach to soldier wellness. 

Improving Decision-Making Under Stress 

In high-stakes scenarios, split-second decisions can mean the difference between success and failure. Research in Military Psychology underscores how combat sports improve decision-making under stress. Mental performance consultants further refine this skill, equipping soldiers with the mental fortitude to think critically and act decisively in the heat of battle. 

Enhancing Recovery and Resilience 

Injuries and setbacks are a part of military life, and mental resilience is crucial for recovery. Mental performance consultants can guide soldiers in maintaining a positive mindset during rehabilitation, reducing the psychological impact of injuries, and facilitating a quicker return to peak performance. The U.S. Army Combatives Program offers a wealth of mental benefits essential for Soldier wellness and performance. By fostering mental toughness, unit cohesion, and stress management, this program contributes significantly to Soldier readiness.  

About the Author

Kris Copeland Kristopher Copeland, Master Resilience Trainer – Performance Expert (MRT-PE Level III), is from the Fort Cavazos Ready and Resilient (R2) Performance Center in Texas. Kris received his Master’s in Kinesiology/Sport Psychology from the University of North Texas, where he trained various collegiate and high school athletes. While assigned to the Fort Wainwright R2 Performance Center in Alaska, Kris worked with various infantry, medical, and airborne units. After making the 4,000-mile move, he now works with Soldiers at Fort Cavazos, providing mental skills training for combative programs, range qualifications, and medical staff. Kris is married and has three young children. When he’s not training Soldiers, he plays at parks with his family, attends sporting events, and tries to sneak away for a date night.