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Excellence in Training

Class Length: 35 hours
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Excellence in Training: Mental Preparation Techniques to

Enhance Real World Performance

The Excellence in Training Course has helped law enforcement trainers, academies and agencies across North America:

  • Reduce remedial training hours with recruits and in-service officers.
  • Eliminate mental blocks preventing good officers from being successful with firearms qualification, written exams and scenario based training.
  • Reduce attrition rates in recruit training programs.
  • Dramatically improve officers’ performance during scenario training.
  • Improve officers’ performance in the field.
  • Graduate confident, competent, professional officers from their training program.
  • Improve shooting abilities of officers at all levels, literally overnight, using techniques covered in this program.

This course is designed for trainers who want: 

  • Cutting edge training focused on simple, effective methods to harness the power of the mind.
  • Tactics for conducting effective debriefings that will enhance the competence, confidence and performance of their officers.
  • Tips on maximizing the effectiveness of videos in their training program.
  • A framework to help officers achieve tactical proficiency through advanced mental preparation skills.
  • Insights on how to apply the research on learning to help make training stick.

Creating a training environment that inspires excellence and is most conducive to learning is one of the greatest challenges for today’s law enforcement trainers. Excellence in Training is an innovative instructor development course designed to address those issues by drawing on:

  • Lessons learned by Brian Willis during his 25 years as a full time law enforcement officer and over 27 year of law enforcement training experience.
  • The invaluable experience, knowledge and expertise brought to the program by the participants.
  • Feedback from the hundreds of trainers that have gone through the Excellence in Training course.
  • Research from a variety of disciplines including leadership, psychology, and human performance.

The focus of Excellence in Training is enhancing the performance of law enforcement officers by delivering training in a manner that permanently imprints the most desirable responses at the officer’s subconscious level to automatically program them for success. In order to accomplish this, training must be meaningful, challenging, rewarding and build on the strengths and talents officers already possess. Excellence in Training provides trainers with a number of simple, proven strategies for accomplishing this mission.

The principles and concepts taught in this program can be used with officers at any level of skill and service from recruits to veteran tactical operators at little or no cost to the organization.







This powerful course in understanding human dynamics, and maximizing human performance covers the following areas:

The Mind: Roles Responsibilities and Programming

This component forms the foundation of the program and will explain how the mind works to process, store and retrieve information. It provides an in-depth understanding of the roles of the conscious and subconscious mind. Often, training programs are focused at the level of the conscious mind, and yet in spontaneous, rapidly evolving or high stress events it is the subconscious mind that determines an officer’s response.  This program provides trainers with the tools to create the most desirable subconscious mental programs in their officers.

Performance Enhancement Imagery

Imagery is referred to by many names including visualization, guided imagery, and crisis rehearsal. Performance Enhancement Imagery is a simple, effective method of harnessing the tremendous power of the mind by focusing and directing the imagination. Performance Enhancement Imagery can be used by individual officers to train themselves, done one on one by a qualified trainer or conducted for groups of officers. The process has been proven to enhance all aspects of physical and mental performance in physical skills training, firearms, athletics or academics. Trainers attending this course will gain an in-depth understanding of what imagery is, how it works and why it is such a powerful performance enhancement tool. During this dynamic and interactive training trainers will learn simple, yet effective ways to incorporate imagery into their training programs. In addition to training hundreds of law enforcement trainers in how to conduct effective Performance Enhancement Imagery sessions Brian Willis has conducted one on one and group sessions with over 1500 law enforcement officers.

Self Talk – Mastering the Internal Dialogue

It has been said that the most important conversations we will ever have are with ourselves, about ourselves, in the privacy of our own mind.  It is important for officers to become aware of their self-talk, their internal dialogue,. That dialogue can be either positive and program an officer for success, or negative and program an officer for failure.  Self talk plays a powerful role in establishing and reinforcing programs at the subconscious level. Once officers become aware of the importance of their self-talk they can audit it and learn to control it to ensure it is most desirable.

The Power of Words

The emphasis throughout this course will be the use of effective language proven to help program officers for success in the field. The power of language is often underestimated in a training environment. The subconscious mind however, processes information literally and so language can have a direct effect of an officer’s subconscious programming. Much of the language used in our everyday communication to recruits, other officers and family members is negative based and may create disastrous programming at the subconscious level. By implementing a few simple changes in the way in which they communicate trainers can have a huge impact of the performance of their officers.

Context Based Training

Every trainer has heard of stress inoculation training. This type of  training goes by many names including stress acclimation training, reality based training, scenario based training and confrontation simulation training. Regardless of the name, the purpose behind the training is consistent – help officers perform better out in the field. Most agencies now realize the importance of this type of training as a component of a comprehensive training program. When conducted properly this training is an extremely effective method for ensuring the most desirable response from officers in the field by programming them to be calm, focused, in control and confident in a variety of situations. However, when conducted improperly the training can have the opposite effect and program officers to be fearful and either over react or under react in the field. This is what Ken Murray, the author of Training at the Speed of Life, refers to as unintended consequences of well intentioned training. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman addresses issues with stress inoculation training in his book On Combat and exhorts trainers to “never kill a warrior in training.” More recently the Force Science Research Center addressed this issue briefly in their newsletter:

Among the popular training components FSRC researchers plan to examine are so-called “stress inoculation” exercises. “Many trainers believe this is helpful because it exposes officers to the ‘realism’ of the street, Lewinski observes. “But if this involves just heaping stress on trainees, it may not be as helpful as imagined. In fact, it can be counterproductive by instilling fear and anxiety.

The idea is not to traumatize officers with stress but to skillfully guide them to develop the ability to focus on what’s important to their survival during a stressful encounter. This, then, becomes a training method that enhances confidence and competence, so the officer emerges better prepared to defend his life and defeat a threatening adversary.

The Excellence in Training program addresses the importance of ‘context based training’ to address some of these critical issues and dispel misconceptions about this type of training. This component builds on all the other elements of the course and provides guidelines for more effective training.

Debriefings: Feed-Forward vs. Feedback

Debriefings following training scenarios or actual calls on the street provide the greatest real time learning opportunities for officers. Too often however, debriefings are focused on providing ‘feed-back’ on what went wrong. While this is well intentioned it can often have the reverse effect to the intended outcome. Focusing on what went wrong often reinforces those behaviors and programs at the subconscious level. This component of the course is focused on providing ‘feed-forward’ during debriefings. Feed Forward is a term taken from the field of positive psychology and is focused on communicating in a manner that will create the greatest possibility for positive behavioral changes in the future. The keys to ‘feed-forward’ debriefings are language and imagery, which will create and reinforce positive programs at the subconscious level.

Strengths Based Approach to Training

Trainers and supervisors are often conditioned to focus on students’ weaknesses. As a result a great deal of time and energy is spent working to correct these weaknesses. The strengths based approach to training acknowledges that areas of deficiency must be addressed but challenges trainers to discover the strengths and talents that every officer possesses and build on those areas. This switch in focus will result in a more positive learning environment for the participants and enhance their overall performance during training as well as out in the field.

Effective Use of Video in Training

Videos of actual events or recreations of actual events are an integral part of law enforcement training. If used in the most desirable manner these videos can help officers learn from the experience of others and help program a more desirable response when they are faced with a similar event in the future. Unfortunately many trainers are utilizing these videos in a manner which may have the opposite effect on some officers. This section of the course addresses the most desirable manner in which to utilize videos to ensure the officers are programmed for successful outcomes.

About the Facilitator – Brian Willis:

Brian Willis is recognized throughout North America as a catalyst for change and a man with many questions. He is the founder of the innovative training company Winning Mind Training, a company committed to help the men and women of law enforcement Embrace the Suck, focus on What’s Important Now and Dare to Be Great.  Brian was a full time police officer for 25 years and has over 27 years of law enforcement training experience.

He is a recipient of the Law Officer Trainer of the Year award and a Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment and contributions to Officer Safety. Brian has also served as a mental preparation coach for athletes from a variety of sports including two Olympic athletes.