Shooter ready part 2: research into mental skills training for snipers.

Is performance perhaps an overlooked part of prevention of mental health problems? What is the difference between performance psychology and mental health? What is the best way to implement a mental skill training program in your unit and organisation? What an important topics again in this conversation with experienced soldier and researcher Christian Ytterbol!

In this second part, we discuss the results of the research: Shooter Ready? Integrating mental skills training into an advanced sniper course. We discuss the importance of coach/trainer attendance with participants. A key piece of advice for all organizations is to use trainers/instructors to implement the mental skills program. Next, we address the important topic of doing your preliminary work before coming up with mental skills training. What is the problem you want to solve? What is the specific context of the unit? For this you can use an exploratory case study methodology. And then we come to the difference between performance psychology and mental health! And the proper collaboration between performance psychology and clinical psychology in the overall performance cycle. We then come to the crucial concept of ‘metacognition’ and its role in performing under pressure.

Metacognition, or the ability to reflect on and regulate one’s own thinking processes, is important for performance because it enhances learning, problem-solving, and decision-making.

By being aware of our own thoughts, knowledge, and strategies, we can better monitor and control our cognitive processes. This self-awareness allows us to identify areas of strength and weakness, adjust our learning strategies, and make informed decisions about how to approach tasks or challenges. Metacognition helps us set goals, plan effectively, evaluate our progress, and adapt our strategies as needed, leading to improved performance in various domains.

Christian then discusses two powerful theories of stress: the cognitive activation theory of stress (CATS) and the Allostatic model of stress! Of course as the pragmatist he is, he shows the practical application of these models! We end our talk with lessons learned for organizations looking to implement mental skills training for their people.

Thank you for your service!