• From the Field with Danny McMillian
    This From the Field focuses on Danny McMillian, a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Puget Sound, School of Physical Therapy, in Tacoma, WA. His last assignment was with the 75th Ranger Regiment where he was the Director of the Ranger-Athlete-Warrior Program. McMillian's primary areas of instruction are therapeutic exercise, gait, and sports medicine.
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  • From the Field BannerFrom the Field | Danny McMillianDanny McMillian, TSAC-F    Danny McMillian is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Puget Sound, School of Physical Therapy, in Tacoma, WA. His primary areas of instruction are therapeutic exercise, gait, and sports medicine. He served in the U.S. Army from 1985-2009, first as a medic, then, he spent most of his career as a physical therapist. His last assignment was with the 75th Ranger Regiment where he was the Director of the Ranger-Athlete-Warrior Program.

    1. What tactical population do you currently work with?
    Primarily the military, but my students and I have been active with the Seattle Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and fire departments in western Washington.

    2. How did you get started in the TSAC (Tactical Strength and Conditioning) field?
    As an active-duty US Army physical therapist, I had an assignment at the Army Physical Fitness School, then later with the Ranger Regiment.

    3. What resources do you utilize for continuing education? Are there any resources your recommend staying away from?
    The NSCA and other national organizations are at the top of the list because they have a history of evidence-based debate and yearly meetings to continue the discussion. However, I’ve met numerous trainers with very independent streaks and unique insights that have really informed the way I think about the whole concept of performance. [I recommend staying away from] any group that is committed to a rigid methodology and claims to have all the answers.

    4. If you where hiring someone in your field, what would you look for?
    Of course education and relevant training experiences are important, but surviving a few of life’s beat-downs goes a long way—it helps you relate to the resiliency that defines tactical professionals. That doesn’t mean a younger person is unqualified, but they would need to demonstrate a pretty high level of maturity.

    5. Please describe the regular duties included in your position?
    As a physical therapist, my primary role with tactical populations is two-fold: first, evaluating and correcting movement impairments and, second, analyzing physical requirements of the job and matching the training to the requirement. As much as anything though, I enjoy motivating tactical professionals to consider themselves as athletes and live their lives accordingly.

    6. What are the two most important things you have learned; that you wish you knew when you were starting your career?
    1) There is more that unites us than divides us. Strength and conditioning professionals usually have strong opinions and aren’t afraid to express them. Sometimes that leads people to separate camps and we miss opportunities for communication and collaboration. 2) Learn from everyone; blindly follow no one. Early in a career, we often put the gurus on a pedestal and don’t challenge their assumptions. It’s better to respect what they have accomplished, but look for ways to improve on their ideas.

    7. What recommendations would you give someone who is looking to start a career in TSAC?
    Personal experience is key – I recommend either serving in these units or volunteering to help train some local military, police, or firefighters and listen to their needs. Watch them work and apply that knowledge to training programs. See where the weaknesses are and develop sound strength and conditioning pIan order to truly understand the unique challenges faced by the tactical populations, you must immerse yourself in the culture. It is not hard to do; there are fire and police departments everywhere that would benefit from interaction with strength and conditioning professionals. Be prepared to develop a business plan that shows administrators the value added by controlling injuries and improving performance. Much of the data is already out there.

    8. What do you believe are the top three physical requirements for this population that must be addressed in a proper TSAC program?
    1) Mastery of fundamental movements, 2) strength—get as strong as possible without adding unnecessary mass, and 3) full-spectrum endurance (aerobic-anaerobic).

    9. What steps do you go through when writing a program for the population you work with?
    First is needs analysis. When I shifted from training exclusively with the military to also working with firefighters and police, I had to first understand their physical requirements; each tactical profession is different. Next, assess individuals with tests that are relevant to the physical requirements. Without regular use of such assessments, we are all at risk of believing too deeply in our own myths (e.g., “Yeah, I’m fit/strong enough. I don’t like metabolic/strength training and haven’t done any in six months, but I’m fit/strong.”). I then try to balance general and specific needs. Training for specific needs is tied to individual assessments (i.e., improving weak links) and job requirements. By general needs, I’m referring to the fact that tactical jobs require broad-ranging fitness. So, even if a tactical athlete needs to get much stronger, you can’t forget about prescribing enough metabolic training to maintain work capacity. Finally, I review the plan with a critical question in mind: “Have I built in enough recovery?”

    10. What are some critical factors in getting tactical athletes to buy into a strength and conditioning program?
    Let the tactical athlete educate you first. They are the expert at what they need to be able to do. Once you understand their goals, then you can use data from assessments and your knowledge of strength and conditioning to map out the path from where they are to where they want to be. Finally, educate at every opportunity, and walk your tal
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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