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Got 10 minutes? Then run through this scenario-based use of force training session

Here is a quick way to incorporate skill-based, scenario training into your use of force training program

Sergio sprawled position.jpg

During this training, officers will sprawl the subject to the ground, spin to their back, while controlling a wrist and move into a prone cuffing position.

Jerrod Hardy

Across the country, I frequently hear instructors wish they could do more scenario-based use of force training, but they just don’t believe they have the time or ability to do so. Here is a quick way to incorporate realistic, skill-based, use of force scenario training into your training program that requires no more than 10 minutes of time.

The scenario

An officer encounters a suspicious subject late at night in a dark parking lot. During initial contact, the subject is somewhat cooperative but starts looking around, with less eye contact and begins providing very vague information.

The subject then lunges toward the officer who responds with strikes (personal weapons, open hand soft technique, whatever you train). Strikes are ineffective and the subject tries to tackle the officer to the ground. The officer successfully sprawls the subject to the ground, gains control and moves to a cuffing position from control.

How do we train this?

Officers partner up with a “bad guy” who is holding a strike shield, kick pad or whatever striking pad you use.

Officers will deliver two strikes on your command (calling numbers 1-8 in sequence).

After the eighth rep, the bad guys will drop their striking pad and assume a tabletop position. (This is where we recommend officers train 99% of their sprawls to reduce injury potential and maximize muscle memory.)

Officers will sprawl the subject to the ground, spin to their back, while controlling a wrist and move into a prone cuffing position.

This whole 8 count (8 reps of strikes, 1 sprawl, 1 controlled cuffing technique) will take no more than a minute to run through.

You can do this drill with officers in full-duty gear or with no gear, depending on how fast you want your transition times between roles and what you are looking for.

Do as many iterations of this drill as your time and students’ fitness level allow before switching roles. I would recommend repeating it between 4 and 8 times before switching roles.

Rotating the officers to different partners is another great way to ensure they work with various people of different sizes, skill levels and flexibility.

Where do we schedule this in the training day?

This is a great question, and it depends on what you want to see.

If this scenario training is being done for senior officers during in-service training, you may do it right after the warmup to evaluate their skill retention. The caveat of course is that you have taught the various skills to them before.

If you are teaching the individual skills for the first time or after a lengthy break between training sessions, I’d recommend doing it at the end of the training. You would use the scenario to tie all the skills and mindset required together to finish the day.

What is the benefit of doing this?

The benefit of doing this is that as a coach, we can observe so many intangibles in our students that do not necessarily translate to a lesson plan.

For example, you get to see an officer’s fitness level during the eight count of strikes. Are they doubling over from throwing eight punches, knees, or kicks?

You get to evaluate their emotional control, and ability to escalate or de-escalate under stress. After the eighth strike and following the sprawl, are they so “jacked up” on adrenaline that they fail to recognize the sprawl was effective? Instead of moving to control, do they want to deliver more strikes? This would be an issue you want to identify and correct in your training environment prior to seeing it on someone’s cell phone video.


As professional coaches we need to ensure the skills we teach our officers are not compartmentalized to one area (handcuffing, striking, ground fighting) but flow together in training like we hope they will on the street.

Scenario training does this, and it does not require large budgets or fancy facilities. All you need is a little creativity and a willingness to do things differently.

Police1 author Jerrod Hardy is a 20-year law enforcement officer and an Air Force veteran. He owns one of the largest mixed martial arts gyms in Colorado.