By Michael StrasserFebruary 8, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Feb. 6, 2018) -- This was not the typical physical training routine. Sure, there were countless pushups, planks, squats and burpees. In between, though, Soldiers engaged in riddles, a spelling test and puzzles.
The purpose of this was to teach Soldiers how their mental approach to training can either hinder or help performance. More than 40 Soldiers from C Company, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), received this instruction Feb. 6 at Monti Physical Fitness Center from the Ready and Resilient Performance Center staff.
Haziel Bustillo, Master Resilience Trainer-Performance expert, said that everyone on the R2 Performance Center staff has a master's degree or higher in sports psychology and has a passion for sharing their knowledge with Soldiers.
"Everything in sports psychology applies to more than just athletes and sports," he said. "That's the reason why we're here. Everyone here is a tactical and technical athlete in their own way and in their own specialty. Often, the piece that's overlooked is that mental aspect."
While providing a synopsis of the thought-performance connection to the group, Bustillo said that there are many variables that people cannot control, but they can learn to control their thoughts to focus on effective thinking - purposeful, productive and open to possibility - instead of ineffective thinking - random, reactive and restrictive.
The 210th BSB Soldiers gathered in four groups to tackle six stations that combined a physical challenge with cognitive tasks to keep them thinking creatively and critically. Staff members observed the different ways each group worked and communicated together to complete the mental fitness obstacle course. Bustillo said that some teams chose to form up in circles for some activities, while others opted for a straight-line formation for their point of focus. He told the Soldiers to take notice of how they motivate themselves and each other and what that did to affect performance.
"The point was to get that physical workout, because this is their PT time, but also that mental workout," Bustillo said. "It also gives them a taste of what we offer at the R2 Center. What we hope is that that they recognize how the things we taught in these specific exercises can be continued after they leave here."
First Sgt. Krystal Jarrett said that what resonated the most for her was the activities that relied on concentration, but also how people communicated with each other to complete the tasks.
"My company is very competitive, so just learning better ways to communicate positively was a good skill to take away," she said.
Bustillo said that staff has worked with many of these Soldiers before with training programs such as the Mountain Athlete Warrior or combatives course, but in smaller groups. Jarrett said that the company had previously worked with the R2 staff on teambuilding, and she would like to coordinate for monthly training.
"We want to teach Soldiers new skills ... and then reinforce those daily," she said. "My NCOs will take what they learn here and put it into daily practice."