How do the best shooters constantly push themselves to the next level? They constantly modify their training to meet their goals, and they constantly set the bar higher each time they accomplish a goal. In this article, I will attempt to describe the “Training Design and Execution Cycle”, and offer what it will do for you. What is this cycle? To put it bluntly, it is the cycle that MUST be gone through to continue to evolve to the next level. Most people go through this cycle without even knowing it, but if not, our training cannot possibly evolve. All too often I hear from someone does not under stand how to design their own training program, or that they must react to their failures (or successes) and constantly re-design their program in order to be successful. Lets take a look at the cycle, and then I will break down each step. Remember that this cycle is not the only way to design and modify training to meet a goal, it is just a guideline.
The training design and execution cycle is the process of initial design of a program based on goals > to the execution of the training > to the measurement of results > to the modification of the program to meet those results. Obviously, if we meet our initial goal, then the next step when redefining the goal is to set the bar higher! This is the process that the best athletes in the world use to become “excellent” at what they do. This cycle repeats itself as many times as necessary to meet the goal.
Lets break each component down:
Define the Goal (training objective)– This is where we begin our design and execution cycle, by defining what our goal is. This isn’t always completely under our control, as those of you with specific mission know. Your mission may define your goal. Refer to the cycle again, and you will see “dynamic or static” as a subset of defining the goal. My definition of a static goal is potentially a set score on a qualification, or a specific accuracy requirement for those of you that have a specific numerical goal. A dynamic goal is something that is potentially changing and a bit less measureable, such as your performance during a particular event. A dynamic goal cannot be maximized, as theoretically there is always a higher level. Here are some considerations in defining a training goal:
- Mission requirements
- Personal requirements (competitive goal)
- Time (that we have available to meet the goal)
- Resources (financial, or logistical issues that may impact our goal)
TIP: I highly recommend defining of all of your goals or objectives. A goal not written down is a goal never made!
Needs Analysis- This is where we get very specific about the details of meeting our target goal. We will refine, or possibly re-define our goal in this step (if our initial goal is flawed). This step is the analytical step where we define what we need to do and have to meet the goal. The detailed steps to this process are:
- Do a current Skills Assessment (one part of figuring out where you are going is to first find out where you are).
- Set a target date for the first performance measurement. This may be a match or a qualification (for the Law Enforcement of Military community).
- Verify that the target date is realistic (if not we may have to modify our date, or our plan!)
- Set the specific standards of performance (how will we judge our training programs success?).
- List the available resources, and identify anything that may hamper us from reaching the target goal (ammunition, money, training tools, etc.).
- List the methods to overcome or compensate for things we have identified as potential showstoppers in regards to our resources.
- Restate or Redefine the goal based on an objective view of the steps above.
- Now we have an actual goal that is measurable, documented, and accomplishable.
Example Goal Statement: Train 35 officers with no firearm skill to perform 90% or better on the current state qualification test by December 01, 2007.
Program Design- Now that we have analyzed and clearly stated our training goal, we will begin to design a program to meet our objectives. The steps to program design are:
- Plot our time factors (set deadline on a calendar, and count the hours, days, or weeks we have to meet our goal).
- List the skills and sub skills that are needed to reach our goal.
- List the critical components of each skill (the things that will make the technique right or wrong).
- List the time each skill will take to teach/train (estimated).
- Build the Micro and Macro drills needed to train each skill.
- Now plot the individual training blocks using a building block approach on the training dates/times defined above, incorporating the designed drills as necessary.
Program Execution- We have designed our training, and now it is time to execute our program. This is the critical step in the process, and the following must be observed:
- Execution must be perfect in order for us to receive the proper training benefit.
- Failure to execute our training drill repetitions correctly will skew the actual results.
Measure Performance- This is where we assess whether or not our training blocks are effective or not. Ineffective design, and execution of a training program will always show up here. My personal performance measurement is my match performance. After each match, I analyze my successes or failures and modify my own personal training program. One of two things will happen during this step:
- Fail to meet performance objectives-
- We will then modify the design or execution of the training program, and re-start the training program.
- Meet performance objectives-
- Redefine and/or raise the standards measure and begin the cycle over! (This is how we keep pushing ourselves to the next level!)
In summary, we have discussed the Training Design and Execution Cycle, and its intended purpose. My hope is that you realized that there is a logical process that you can and should follow when designing and modifying your training program for whatever your goals are. The one thing that I hope sticks in your mind is this: Constantly evolving goals require constantly evolving training programs, don’t let yours become stagnant! As the saying goes, do what you have always been doing, get what you have always been getting! If you want to progress forward, refine your training program on a regular basis!
For more on goal setting and this cycle, please see Your Competition Handgun Training Program or Your Defensive Handgun Training Program.
Until Then – Train Hard!