Mood States of U.S. Army Ranger Students Associated With a Competitive Road March

William J Tharion, Anthony J Karis, Adam W Potter


Mood state has been associated with performance in athletes; U.S. Army Rangers are the Army’s equivalent to the elite athlete.  Purpose: To examine the relationship between mood and success on a qualification road march during Ranger School.  Methods: Thirty-nine male Ranger students (mean ± sd; age, 25 ± 4 yrs; ht: 177 ± 5 cm, wt: 80 ± 9 kg; % body fat: 15 ± 4%, two-mile run fitness test: 12:50 ± 0:58 min) from two training classes participated.  Road march distances were 8 and 12 miles for summer and winter classes, respectively.  Environmental conditions were summer: 24.4° to 25.0°C air temperature (Ta), 82% to 89% relative humidity (RH), winter: -6.2°C to -4.4°C Ta and 51% to 60% RH.   To achieve a passing grade and avoid being dropped from Ranger School, students needed to complete the march under a 16:25 min/mile pace while carrying ~31 kg of equipment.  The Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire was administered immediately after the march. The POMS assesses six moods (tension, depression, anger, vigor, fatigue, and confusion).  Results: Road march times were 2:00 + 0:07 (hr:min) (avg 15:02 min/mile) for the 8-mile course and 3:03 + 0:12 (avg 15:15 min/mile) for the 12-mile course.  A significant correlation between two-mile run times and road march times existed (r = 0.80, p = 0.001 (summer) and r = 0.47, p = 0.05 (winter)).  Correlations between mood and road march times were not significant for the winter class.  However, significant correlations for tension r = 0.60; p = 0.004), depression: r = 0.60; p = 0.004), fatigue: r= 0.60; p = 0.004), and confusion: r = 0.53; p = 0.01) and road march times were seen in the summer class.  Interaction effects from an analysis of variance between class (summer vs. winter) and passing the qualification standard (pass vs. fail) existed for tension (p = 0.001), depression (p = 0.28), fatigue (p = 0.001), and confusion (p = 0.022).   Conclusions: Mood and performance were not related during the winter march.  During the more environmentally- challenging summer march, mood was related to performance with more negative moods associated with those not meeting the U.S. Army Ranger School standard.  The combined effects of the physical stress of completing the road march for time, the hotter environmental temperatures during the summer, and the disappointment of not meeting the Ranger School standard, likely contributed to these negative mood states.


Ranger Training, Profile of Mood States, POMS, Military Training, Psychological State

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