Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Investigation of the Obstacle Course Performance at the Hellenic Military Academy

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Investigation of the Obstacle Course Performance at the Hellenic Military Academy

Article excerpt


From the ancient times the use of obstacle courses in order to enhance and assess physical fitness in both military and physical education purposes was important, and it is well documented from the years of the Roman Empire (Mullins, 2012). Even earlier, in ancient Sparta, where military treatment was compulsory for all, boys from 11 years of life participated daily in physical exercises. The teenagers were taught to use various weapons and took part in marches, patrols, ambushes and mock battles. They also were trained in wrestling and other exercises related to the combat. It was given special attention to certain exercises as to climb with ease on the slopes and to descend safely from them, to run, to swim in the river, and to jump (Diamantopoulos, 1975).

In modern history many researchers proposed that obstacle course is a kind of performance that requires endurance, strength, coordination, balance, and strategy. As a result it is an important tool in the physical training and testing of military personnel. The contribution of the practice on obstacle course is very important, because it is a key tool of understanding of the kind of move and tactics used in the battle.

Furthermore, it contributes significantly to the development of the physical abilities of cadets, as requires aerobic and anaerobic power, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, balance and neuromuscular coordination (Paxinos & Paxinos, 2014). Even practice on obstacle course develops mental skills such as perfect confidence, attention, concentration, perception and immediate decisions. Finally, it contributes to the development of skills related to strategic thinking and fostering team spirit, and team cohesion.

There are two types of obstacles in the Armed Forces. The first type, called Battle Obstacle Course, refers to the obstacles that improve self-confidence. It helps cadets to develop mental and physical abilities, and include higher and more difficult obstacles than the second type. Often it is made to focus on specific needs, such as night movement, assault, climbing and rappelling walls.

In contrast the second type, called Obstacle Course, refers to outdoor obstacles that improve fitness, and is used in the Hellenic Military Academy. Obstacle Course includes low obstacles in order to encourage cadets for effective crossing that should be done very quickly. Mainly assesses cadets' level on basic motor skills and fitness, and subsequently their self-esteem and perception. Its length is 500 m., and includes 20 obstacles consisting of running, crawling, balancing, climbing, and jumping. This type of Obstacle Course is used in International Military Pentathlon competitions that are organized by the International Military Sports Council.

Obstacle course challenges are very famous among cadets, even if involves participants in very vigorous and relatively risky events. The self-determination theory explains the motivational dynamics of human behaviour, and can give an answer to this contradiction. Efforts are being made in order for answers to be given concerning the causes of the individual's behaviour, as well as concerning the role of the social environment in the formation of the individual's performance and development (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000, 2002, 2007). Self-determination refers to the perception that the individual has the possibility to make choices. When someone acts in order to satisfy his basic needs, in order to experience the feeling of ability and autonomy, then he develops this perception (Gdonteli & Gavriilidis, 2014). Especially in academic sports, both intrinsic motivations (participation for the pleasure that exercising gives, and to experience stimulation) as well as extrinsic ones (participation for social recognition) can be observed on people who exercise.

To extend a theoretical approach to the motivation and persistence of cadets to exercising on obstacle course, it is important to understand the role of sport commitments that underlie participation in such risky events. …

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