Soldiers' Experiences of Training for Emergency Performance Situations

Peter R Jensen, Greg Young


Professions that include the risk of life-threatening emergency situations ready individuals for such extreme events through training to develop a broad range of positive psychological skills, well known in sport psychology as mental toughness.  Given the relatively little attention devoted to the study of performance psychology in this area, the aim of this investigation was to provide first-person perspectives on the training of soldiers with experience in the life-threatening circumstances of hand-to-hand combat.  The results of phenomenological interviews with 17 soldiers revealed four themes that characterized the participant’s experience of hand-to-hand combat training: “warrior mindset,” “confidence,” “repetition,” and “realistic.”  It was concluded the hand-to-hand combat training experiences of these soldiers (a) fostered mental qualities viewed as important for performance in life-threatening settings, (b) consisted of extensive practice, and (c) were aimed at replicating the physical and psychological demands of the expected combat environment.  Taken together the results are consistent with sport psychology mental toughness research and provide a number of suggestions for instructors and mental skills trainers working with soldiers and combat sport athletes.


emergency performance, mental toughness, hand-to-hand combat, military training, phenomenology

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