Advent Of Sports Medicine in Military Training & Scientific PT

With the purpose of making the military physical training even more scientific, a decision to incorporate 'Sports Medicine' in the training methodology of cadets, recruits and combat soldiers was taken.

Advent Of Sports Medicine in Military Training & Scientific PT


PIB RELEASE -21 Aug 2017

Demise of Gentleman Cadets at Indian Military Academy

Exercise PAHLA KADAM, a training camp for first term Gentlemen Cadets of Indian Military Academy was being conducted in the general area of Badshahi Bagh, Saharanpur district. During the runback of the exercise, seven Gentlemen Cadets fell unwell due to dehydration. All the Gentleman Cadets were administered first aid by the medical officer present at the exercise location and evacuated in specialized ambulances with paramedic support to Military Hospital, Dehradun. Gentleman Cadet Deepak Sharma whose condition was critical, was however rushed to the nearest medical centre (Lehman Hospital) at Vikasnagar. The individual succumbed to exhaustion and dehydration and passed away at 1:30 pm on 18 Aug despite best efforts made by the doctors.

Meanwhile, the other Gentlemen Cadets were shifted to Military Hospital, Dehradun where they were administered medical treatment. Gentleman Cadet Nabin Kumar Chhetri, the second individual, who was under treatment, however eventually passed away at 11:50 pm despite best efforts made by the doctors. The best medical treatment by specialized doctors at Military Hospital, Dehradun was provided and all efforts were made to treat the individual.

Wreaths were laid for both the departed Gentlemen Cadets in separate ceremonies which were attended by all Officers, JCOs and Gentlemen Cadets of the IMA. The remaining Gentleman Cadets have been treated at the Military Hospital and are stable


Col PK ‘’Royal ‘’ Mehrishi ,Infantry (Team Victory India)

Recent death of two IMA cadets while undergoing training at IMA and criticality of three cadets is most unfortunate in the history of IMA.

Something is really amiss, I will try to address a few issues:-

  • The focus should shift back to selection /training/grooming. At present it is archaic and obsolete.
  • A " Green horn " who has never even run a mile is made to run 10 Km ( with weapon & back pack) in humid conditions in one & half  months time.
  • Immediate seniors who themselves are learning the ropes of physical fitness become standby Instructors & conduct PT classes Off Parade hours.
  • SSB has no basic physical fitness criteria., like pulse rate, lactic acid formation, oxygen holding capacity of lungs ,etc.
  • Urgent need to introduce Sports Medicine concepts in selection/training /grooming of young cadets.
  • Make it mandatory for each Officer to attend the basic OPTC Course at AIPT Pune.
  • Introduce study of sports medicine & human psychology as mandatory subjects during training at NDA/IMA/OTA.
  • PT /Sports should only be played /attended under expert supervision of DS/PT Instructor who is  qualified/authorized to conduct these classes.

If we don't take a/m measures we should be ready to lose more young men during training


In a recent Unified Commanders’ Conference(UCC) held at New Delhi on 10 & 11July 2017, attended by the RM, RRM, NSA, Service Chiefs and senior dignitaries from Tri-Services Establishments and MoD, discussed several relevant issues including  'Enhancement of training curriculum in Armed Forces Training Institutes'.

With the purpose of making the military physical training even more scientific, a decision to incorporate 'Sports Medicine' in the training methodology of cadets, recruits and combat soldiers was taken.

The Victory India Trilogy has amply and elaborately highlighted the imperative need for systematic, scientific and progressive physical training methodology in the entire academic and military curriculum of all military trainees, especially the officer cadets at premier military academies like NDA, IMA, OTA,  AFA & INA.

Several papers and articles with complementary responses form part of our three Victory India compendiums .Many of these articles have comprehensively covered the subject of physical training and sports medicine and highlighted the existing drawbacks in our 70 years old training methodology and the ways and means of addressing and resolving them through a scientific and systematic methodology including the incorporation of the science of sports medicine. An article titled 'The advent of sports medicine in military training' authored by Col Vinay Dalvi (included in part three of Victory India Trilogy and also published by Fauji India Magazine , Feb 2017 issue) comprehensively covers this subject .The same is att for ready reference .


The decision of the apex tri-services authority to include sports medicine as an integral part of the training methodology of cadets, recruits and combat soldiers is a very positive and wise decision. However , actually implementing this decision will involve several intricately linked complex and tricky issues and therefore require a bold comprehensive vision plan to make this decision actually successful on ground at all levels .

Some of the major shortcomings and  drawbacks  relating to our existing training methodology for physical training ( which is a 70 years old British legacy )have been articulated in great detail in the 'Victory India Trilogy' by several authors who have actually imparted training and experts in their field.

With a view to enable and facilitate the serving fraternity to successfully implement the wise decision of the UCC, what in your view will be the most difficult issues that must be tackled, resolved or addressed and the actual way forward for successfully incorporating 'sports medicine' in the physical training methodology of cadets ,recruits and combatants and the consequent gains that will accrue to all trainees and combatants.


Brig LC Patnaik, ex President SSB & Instr IMA

The recent decision of the ‘United Commander’s Conference’ for introducing a more scientific approach to physical training through the science of ‘Sports Medicine ’for physical development of  military training of cadets, recruits and combatants is indeed a  wise decision by the apex body .The implication and implementation of this decision needs a deep and thorough understanding by all concerned with nurturing, selection, training and grooming of  officer cadets , recruits and combatants .

The Services Selection Boards  already have a system of periodic assessments of selected cadets during their training at military academies to ratify/confirm their assessments. The periodic assessments of the past  indicate near corroborative trends in areas of trainability, physical courage and stamina in the first six months of training of cadets at the academies. However, the corroborative index shows a downward trend in ‘physical fitness’ scale for cadets with ‘non-military school’ and ‘rural background’. The downward slide becomes steeper for candidates assessed during SSB selection with ‘medium to low trainability ‘irrespective of their background.

Rather than addressing this issue more scientifically and progressively, based on sound principles of physical training and sports medicine the broad assessment of the training and supervisory staff at academies is that the cadets are ‘malingering or shamming’ to evade physical hardship and invariably take recourse to disciplinary proceedings against them which only aggravate the problem for the physically weak cadets.

The past/present punishment policy, especially at NDA will reveal that it is heavily based only on dishing out physical doses without taking into account the capacity of the cadet. A study conducted  at IMA during 1989, revealed that a large number of Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) who were awarded minor punishments were physically weak and unable to  bear the rigorous  PT and  Drill schedule. Consequently, more doses of physical punishments only further aggravated their condition!

During my visit to NDA in 2013, I had enquired from entire training and supervisory staff of the remedy to address the subject issue? The response was clearly to circumvent and evade the issue as confronting the academy and even deflected it by stressing the need for DIPR/SSB to review their selection techniques and methodology!

The need to carry out a physical SWOT analysis of each cadet and conduct the training on a scientific mode was ‘alien’ to young Divisional Officers and ‘repugnant’ to Squadron and Battalion commanders. Receiving positive responses from then Comdt or Dy  Comdt  did not resolve the issues which highlights the imperative need to change the rigid mindsets of trainers and supervisors at all levels who need to be educated themselves  about the basic principles of physical training and sports medicine with a more methodical, systematic, progressive and scientific approach based on sound principles of physical training and sports medicine.

It is no ‘rocket science’ to understand that optimum enhancement of physiological and psycho motor abilities involves gradual progression to allow cumulative growth of muscles. Any sudden stress on the quantum of training naturally results in psychological withdrawal syndrome besides physical burn-out. This issue must be grasped and comprehended to effectively train physically weak new entry cadets to achieve mandatory bench marks at the earliest and also meet squadrons/company competitive needs in various sports and training events and earn high OLQ marks.

It is my deep conviction that new entry cadets must undergo basic physical tests to identify their strength and weaknesses. All weak cadets, irrespective of background need separate physical training curriculum and not merely resorting to the archaic practice of afternoon classes prevalent in most academies.


The commanders have spoken of sports medicine and scientific training.

The first and foremost part of scientific training is to ensure that a cadet has sufficient rest and recuperation before his next physical activity if the aim for him is to raise his physical standards. If this has to be ensured the impact will directly transfer to the methodology of training.

The officers and men responsible for physical fitness have already raised their hands because they have NO SAY  over more than 80% of the physical activity that the cadets are subjected to . As such they are there only for 'testing' and may be passing on some technical skills.

Then, discipline and punishment, which is most often tackled through imposing 'extra' physical activity on cadets need to give up some ground and look for alternative avenues to instill the required military bearing.

Then again, the traditional methods of instilling military culture that is used within squadrons also involves a lot of 'extra' physical activity, liberally dished out by those having little awareness of sports medicine and driven solely by 'tradition' that tends to go from bad to worse over the years.

Finally we have the inter-squadron competition needs in which total novices in sport, having little knowledge of positive health, let alone sports medicine, are given control over their teams, thus, ensuring more physical activity to make their teams shine !

What, in all this, gives the cadet that small relief, that small break, that helps him 'scientifically' recoup? You will be surprised to know that it is the 'pal' system and the ability to 'sham'. Truly these things are a boon for the cadets and where do these things figure in issues relating to making leaders? (self start vs kick start leaders?)

It is a great thing that the top commanders have picked up this point. I hope the doctors and physical education specialists will use this opportunity to drive in the required changes in the training methods.

I think Admiral Bangara and some other veterans must have had all this and more in their minds when they recommended that we go for separate academic and military training for the cadets in different phases.

I think this directive from the commanders is enough to drive the major change from down upwards.I hope the doctors and PT officers will drive home their advantage. They must assert and have a final say on matters of how the physical aspect of training is balanced out.

And finally I think the matter of irresponsible training methods being now taken up legally (criminal prosecution) (or at least proper compensation for victims) will add the required pressure on trainers to be more responsible and accountable. I guess the pieces are falling into place nicely. May be our 'Victory India Campaign' has got a break through ? Only time will tell !

COL CM CHAVAN,ex Army Air Defence

Unified Commanders’ Conference decision  for incorporating ‘sports medicine’ with a view to making the  physical training  methodology  more  scientific  for  cadets, recruits and combatants  is a long pending  and welcome decision .

Once implemented on ground, this change in our physical training methodology will positively impact six vital issues which for too long have  been neglected .These are -“Scientific Training, Nutrition, Sleep, Recovery, Cross Country Runs and Personal Hygiene.” Once these issues are implemented both in letter and spirit, the morbidity rates  of cadets and recruits will definitely decline and trainees will begin to enjoy the physical training curriculum and reap the positive benefits too in terms of better health and fitness.

However, implementing these modern and scientific methods by the ground staff is going to be a difficult task as the senior officer  instructors  with a fixed gumption of training cadets only the hard way to make them strong will be strongly opposed to the systematic and scientific physical training system. The senior cadets too will oppose this shift in training methodology as the present norm of instilling and maintaining discipline of junior cadets with extra physical dosages during night hours will cease.

The toll taken by fierce and competitive inter coy/sqn /bn  sports competitions ,especially cross country also needs to be critically reviewed by  educating  the officer instructors  and the senior cadets about training  systematically and scientifically with   knowledge of  physical education and sports medicine .  Implementation of orders will have to be very strict with defaulters being given exemplary punishments. A classic example to be followed is that of a recent  Dy Comdt  & CI of  NDA who got optimum results by  his high personal  example and effective  supervision  through  drill instructors ,for all officers and senior cadets to emulate. Unfortunately, such examples are extremely rare!

The Army Medical Corps does not have enough doctors with  required speciality to meet the requirement of academies and training centres. As per the earlier statistics the minimum requirement of doctors with sports medicine speciality was 119 against 18 held. Out of 18 only 9 were spared by AMC for this purpose. Hence the DGMS(Army)/DGAFMS will have to plan and execute the requirement of sports medicine qualified doctors on war footing in coordination / consultation with Commandant AFMC & HQ ARTRAC /DGMT/DNT/ACS Trg.

Last, but not least the speciality of sports medicine should be up graded and brought at par with other specialisations  with due importance/weight age  in terms of promotion to such officers. This will  attract suitable and talented medical officers to this specialisation like any other.


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