Comprehensive Soldier, Family Fitness uses sports psychology to enhance performance
December 2, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 29, 2013) -- Soldiers across Fort Drum aren't just focused on building muscles, running faster and improving fitness. They are learning how to perform better, work harder and stay focused, despite the adversities they may face.
The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center helps ensure that community members are at their best, both on and off duty.
Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, known as CSF2, which is part of the Army's Ready and Resilient Campaign, focuses on being mentally tough in physically demanding situations. Previously known as the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, it was updated to include families.
The team of educators and performance experts at the CSF2 Training Center here specializes in sports psychology, one of the hottest phrases among elite athletes, according to Jeff Nelden, CSF2 Training Center manager. CSF2 trainers help people understand the connection between mental toughness and physical performance.
"Most professional sports teams have a psychologist," he said. "The stories they tell about various athletes and their cues and the things they do to either snap out of a bad performance or change the way they think is really interesting."
While professional athletes use sports psychology to overcome losing a big game or an injury, the Army is using similar techniques to help Soldiers break down mental barriers on the battlefield, in training and in life, Nelden added. Performance enhancement training aims at building mental skills -- building confidence, controlling attention, managing energy, setting goals and integrating imagery -- in order to help people achieve mental strength for life.
The program offers services to the entire Fort Drum community -- Soldiers, family members and civilian employees.
Fort Drum is one of 16 installations that offers this type of training, Nelden said.
"The goal is for (people) to be able to handle adverse events by increasing resilience," he explained. "A resilient person can then focus on performance. Performance can be many things -- weapons qualifications, physical fitness test, job performance, preparing for schools or educational opportunities."
Greta Raaen, CSF2 lead master resilience trainer/performance expert, agreed.
"Our training is focused on how to be mentally tough," she said. "That's something where someone who might be an average performer can become an excellent performer."
For example, at Fort Bragg's Jumpmaster Course, the historical average passing rate was about 54 percent, Nelden added.
"People who didn't pass would be recycled into future classes, which costs money and takes Soldiers out of units longer," he said.
After adding a six-hour block of performance enhancement for cadre and students, the pass rate increased to 73 percent.
Nelden and his team work with the division and Army Community Service master resilience training teams.
"We're all working together to get the message out," Nelden said. "We all have a slightly different focus, but in concert, we end up hitting all of the target audience."
In addition to working with master resilience trainers, known as MRTs, across the installation, CSF2 performance experts are assisting in unit-level non-commissioned officer and officer professional development training, and they assist in unit MRT sessions. CSF2 representatives also help teach modules in classes like the Mountain Athlete Warrior, assist with Warrior Transition Unit rehabilitation and offer one-on-one training.
"MRTs in the unit teach resilience, but we teach training classes for them; we train the trainers and provide supplements to unit MRTs," Raaen said.
Ideally, performance experts provide training two to four hours each month as a unit prepares for an event like a physical fitness test or weapons qualification, Raaen said.
"During the time leading up to the event, we teach the skill, reinforce the skill and then actually incorporate it into what they're actually going to do," she said. "For example, we can go to the range and give them real-time applications."
During a recent Mountain Athlete Warrior course, which aims at optimizing Soldier performance, CSF2 performance experts provided a block of instruction.
Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Bone, MAW noncommissioned officer in charge, participated in the CSF2 portion of the training. He said the experts reinforced mental toughness to employ skills learned during the course.
"I gained a perspective that if you (imagine) yourself conducting an event and think positively about it, you will be successful and conserve energy at the same time," Bone said. "(The instruction) will provide a senior leader within the 10th Mountain Division (LI) another skill set for their Soldiers to break the mental barrier and optimize their physical and mental performance."
After the CSF2 instruction, Bone said he immediately noticed an improvement in the students' abilities.
"I noticed students immediately employing their new-found skills," he said. "Leaders within the course have also expressed an interest in bringing the CSF2 Training Center team down to their units to conduct this training for their Soldiers. I can't wait to see the positive impact this will have on our division's Soldiers and their Families."
For more information about CSF2, visit http://csf2.army.mil. To schedule unit-level training at Fort Drum, contact Nelden at firstname.lastname@example.org.