What is the dichotomy of the tactical athlete? It is the pulling forces of being a warfighter and an athlete, simultaneously holding a high level of tactical proficiency and athletic ability. Collectively they make up the essential elements of being an elite level tactical athlete, individually they require total commitment to master, therein lies the dichotomy.
What elements make up tactical proficiency?
In its most basic format, it is the ability to move, shoot, communicate, and medicate, within a small team and as part of a larger fighting force. Now, there are broader skill sets that are trade and rank specific, but for the purpose of this blog we will keep it at this level. However, it is important that you understand that the modern battlefield requires advanced theoretical understanding of technological battlefield assets, the days of being a mutton are long gone.
What elements make up athletic ability?
For the tactical athlete, athletic ability can be broadly covered by the concept of being fitter, faster, stronger, and having the ability to go longer than your adversaries. We can also define these skill sets as strength, conditioning, and endurance specific to the tactical athlete. The specificity of tactical athletic ability is defined by athletic performance underload in austere, and combative environments.
What is the most common mistake?
The most common mistake is the soldier or operator who chooses to specialise in one element, paying lip service to the other. What does this look like?
This can look like the soldier or operator who is highly skilled and holds a high level of tactical proficiency, but lacks the physical ability to fireman's carry a team mate in full kit, or ends up in the red during a walk on, rendering them combat ineffective once they hit the target. If you're in the red, your decision making abilities, fine motor skills, and situational awareness becomes severely diminished.
Conversely, there is also the trap of what I call the track suit soldier.
This is the soldier who holds a high level of athletic ability, they're fit, they're fast, they're strong. Their downfall is, they care more for run times and getting a PR on their back squat, than actually being proficient in the tactical elements of their job.
This looks like a soldier or operator who can easily fireman's carry a team mate in full kit, they can walk onto target without going into the red, but they come up short in the knowledge and skill required to operate at the highest level on the modern battlefield. Beyond the basic skills of move, shoot and communicate, there is a requirement to have SME's (subject matter experts) for specialist skill sets paired with an advanced understanding of interoperability and employment within the battle space.
Now, we are going a bit deep here but understand it is not a game of COD. Simply put, the tracksuit soldier starts to become a liability or like a spare prick at a wedding when he doesn't know his shit.
What is the so what?
"A jack of all trades, a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one"
I think this saying sums it up best, especially within the realms of the tactical athlete and soldiering. You can specialise, but it will be to the detriment of both the team and yourself. Without broad spectrum proficiency, you will come up short and you will become a liability.
Naturally you're going to have a bias and you're going to have natural talent, you should lean into that, but you should also have the self awareness to understand your deficiencies, and the discipline to allocate the time to improve them.
It is challenging to find the balance, but like training for most operational units, it is planned in a way that allocates periods of time and focus to different skills and operational outputs. Take the same approach with your training, start the year refining the smaller skills, building to a culmination of all of your training and all of your hard work.
Employ the pursuit of excellence
Analyse your training, the results you achieved, the results you didn't achieve, what worked, what didn't work, where are your strengths, where are your weaknesses? Make any necessary adjustments and in the name of continuous improvement, go again.
That is how you become the ultimate Tactical Athlete, boasting a high level of tactical proficiency and athletic ability.
Director & Founder