Speaking of long-term athletic development, let’s talk about training terms. A common mistake I see is people not allocating enough time to train before selection. 3 out of 10 Special Operations candidates, and other tactical athletes, contact us with less than a year remaining before their selection date. Some even approach us with less than three months to prepare! This is less than ideal, and always surprises me, considering I hear things like this when I survey candidates about their commitment to becoming a Special Ops soldier:
“I feel determined to accomplish my goal. I’m ready to be 100% committed. For the majority of the day, I’m thinking about being in the Special Forces. This is what I want to commit my life to.”
“I will break myself in half to reach my goals.”
“I am disciplined, focused on my objective and confident I will succeed with some help.”
“I am ready to listen and put in the work.”
“I am dedicated to doing this every day. I will give it 100% effort and commitment.”
“I’m willing to do what it takes to get the job done. With the proper guidance and programming, nothing will stop me from my contract.”
If you’re a dedicated Special Ops candidate, who feels this strongly about completing selection, setting aside just three months doesn’t set you in great stead to achieve your goals. I recommend at least a year. In fact, many athletes choose to work with me for two or three years before their intended selection date. It all depends on your training background and current ability, but more time is always better; better safe than sorry.
To give you an idea, my friend and colleague Stew Smith, a Navy-SEAL-turned-strength-and-conditioning-coach, said this in his military.com article on Special Ops selection prep:
“If you’ve been a long-term athlete through high school/college, you have a solid foundation to get Special-Operations ready. Taking the time to build a foundation is critical – but this takes years of athletics, teamwork training and finally maybe up to a year of specific training to help you master challenging events at your Special Ops selection.”
As you can see from what Stew’s saying, the year of specialized training leading up to selection is the bare-minimum – the last building block – taking you from fit to elite. This year is the finishing touch, assuming you have all the other elements dialled in. A main reason people fail selection is they’re just not willing to put in the work, the longer-term training, required. People who truly want to be part of the Special Ops community carve several years out of their lives to become the best they can be. These are the people you’ll be competing with, so get ready.
Now, it’s not all doom and gloom.
95% of the Special Operations candidates who reach out to us can be successfully trained for selection within 1-2 years. That may feel like a long time, but remember – if this were easy, more people would be doing it! If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a goal so many people fight for. Let’s face it… if it were easy, you probably wouldn’t want to do it in the first place.
If this is what you truly want, you need to embrace the challenge and get on with the work required to be as prepared as you can be.