Every year, a group of 500+ military, law enforcement, fire fighter, and special ops trainers and operators get together to share the latest and greatest techniques, skills, and products being used to make a better tactical athlete.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association started the TSAC in 2005 and hosts a national conference, or annual training program, that pulls in the sports scientists, trainers, therapists, doctors, and operators into the same space. This gathering has evolved over the years to produce much needed resources in scientific study as well as commercial and government investment to the tactical fitness arena.
The movement of Human Performance has dramatically changed. Educated and certified trainers or members of military command now have a place to learn more from others in the field and create better programming for their team and themselves.
Some of the speakers and vendors that I was personally able to speak with and watch their presentations were the following: Air Force Battlefield Airmen Prep Course – The course designers and operators were present to share how they started a new military command with the mission to better prepare Air Force Special Ops candidates for their future training. Colonel Ronald Stenger is spearheading a highly technical training program using sophisticated monitoring gear (Smartabase) to better train, reduce injuries, and create more Air Force PJs, Combat Controllers, Tactical Air Control Party / JTAC, and Special Ops Weather Technicians with fewer applicants. In other words – reduce the 80% attrition rate by being smarter and more efficient. The new 8-week prep course is conducted after Basic Military Training for all Air Force Battlefield Airmen candidates prior to their follow-on selection courses.
The Mobility Maker – Dana Santas CSCS, E-RYT did a hands-on presentation on proper breathing mixed with stretching to release muscle groups of the core. The tactical applications for mobility and breathing are becoming more prevalent as ways to reduce pain and increase longevity in the career field as well as de-stress and build resiliency as stress mitigation tools. Dana is a mind-body coach in professional sports, the yoga expert for CNN Health, author of the book “Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief” and an international speaker/presenter on ways to help people breathe, move and feel better in their bodies and happier and healthier in their lives.
Three Phases of Tactical Fitness – I was able to do a joint presentation with Jeff Nichols of PerformanceFirstUS and my podcast partner on the Tactical Fitness Report. The term To, Through, and After is how we described the journey of the special ops recruit. You have to get TO the training by mastering a fitness test. Usually these are competitive so higher than the minimum standard is required. Then, you have to prepare to get THROUGH the training or selection program. After, once you are an operator the third phase comes into play and focuses on job performance, ability maintenance / longevity, stress mitigation, and general health and wellness as the tactical athlete will likely be older in these professions than he/she will be younger.
Other presentations on sports nutrition, hydration, traumatic brain injuries, overuse running injuries, and stress mitigation are a few spotlights on a long list of speakers and educators who share best practices and lessons learned with participants.
Vendors and Government Investment
At the Sorinex exhibit booth you can use the equipment and get a workout with great coaches and athletes like Bert Sorin and Brandon Lilly. Free deadlift clinics from people like Brandon was one of the highlights of the week for many of those tactical athletes into stronger lifts with perfect form. Other equipment companies present were Perform Better, BeaverFit, TRX, to name a few.
There are also sports nutritionists and nutrition companies present as well as athletic trainers and physical therapists and their corresponding equipment vendors. Some of the regular vendors from previous years who were present again were the folks from Drip Drop (previous article), GNC, as well as a new company called SoreAndTired.com with a magnesium rub to relieve aching joints and muscles.
There are over 50 vendors at the Tactical Fitness Annual Training. If you have health, wellness, and fitness products or services you want to get in front of the creators of Human Performance programs within the tactical arena, this is one way to do that.
Big Government Contracts
How serious is the government in producing smarter trained operators? Put it this way – there is a $475 million SOCOM contract that is currently operated by Booz Allen and countless sub-contractors that supply the subject matter experts to deliver science-based training applications to the different commands of the Special Operations Command. General Dynamics was an exhibitor at the conference to demonstrate their capabilities as they move to challenge for this open contract in the next year. However, regular military and some police / SWAT, and fire fighting departments are also spending money to hire educated and certified trainers to operate their Human Performance / Tactical Fitness programs.
Looking To Get Hired?
The NSCA has two certifications that apply to being qualified for these jobs – The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and the Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F). These jobs are great for prior tactical athletes as well as sports scientists with other backgrounds as learning from each other has been the hallmark of the Human Performance Programs throughout the tactical population.