So, You Want To Get Selected?

So, You Want To Get Selected?

Many people aspire to join the elite units spanning the U.S. Military’s Special Operations community. Whether you aspire to become an Army Ranger, Green Beret, Navy SEAL, or another SOF operator, many challenges lay ahead.

Attrition rates vary by selection, but one thing is for certain, not all who seek a SOF title will achieve it. How can you maximize your preparedness for selection?

Physical Preparedness:

The importance of physical readiness for military courses is generally understood throughout the community. However, we often seen individuals under prepared and ultimately fail out. This may be due to ignorance, or plain negligence in preparation. Regardless, it is your responsibility to ensure you are ready. Not your drill sergeant’s, not your family’s, not your best friend who “didn’t join because he would knock a DI out if he got in his face”, it’s yours and yours only. Own it.

At OTX Training, we attribute three key characteristics to a high performing tactical athlete:

Wait, before we go ahead you need to understand this. The following attributes are for the tactical athlete community at a broad spectrum. Although they may likely be included in your specific selection preparation, you must understand we are speaking generally here. The best thing you can do is assess transferability. If your selection only involves bodyweight movements and rucking (IFYKYK) then you likely do not need to include copious amounts of power work, for example.

Muscular and Cardiovascular Endurance - Endurance, both muscular and cardiovascular, can be described as the ability to perform an action over prolonged times of exertion. To train cardiovascular endurance, we must expose our bodies to the proper intensity (heart rate zone) and corresponding training duration. Low heart rate training, specifically in Zone 1, has been shown to increase the body’s ability stay in an aerobic metabolism. This will prioritize fat as an energy source. The theory is that an athlete will be able to go for longer because he or she will not be depleting their rapidly exhausted glycogen stores. Make sure you are getting your fair share of Zone 1 in. I recommend including LISS (low-intensity steady state cardio) at least three times a week for a minimum of 45 minutes.

Muscular endurance is vital for tactical athletes. The ability to carry heavy implements (rucks, litters, kit, etc.) over long distances relies on many mechanisms, including your muscles ability to endure….get it? endurance…. long bouts of exertion. Repetition ranges of 15+ with low to moderate load will allow for muscular endurance adaptations. Pair these endurance sets with an elevated heart rate (i.e., assault bike sprints) and you will really be setting yourself up for success.

Anaerobic Capacity - Anaerobic capacity is vital for a high-performing tactical athlete. Unfortunately, this tends to get overlooked due to the importance of endurance. Shall we day dream for a moment? Imagine sitting in the back of a helicopter headed for an objective. We will make it a cool-guy MH-6 Little Bird, ‘cus why not? You are carrying a lot of equipment, probably too much, but your bird is headed for a landing zone damn near on top of the target. You jump off the bird and find yourself in low ground, the building looking down at you about 200m away on top a hill. So you run, with all your shit, as fast as you can up the hill to get into position. Once you are in position you must be able to perform. Not “drop ruck” and catch your breath. Perform. This my friend, is anaerobic capacity, and its quite important.

Anaerobic capacity training hurts, especially if you are not accustomed to it. It involves bouts of maximum effort exertion. A simple way to train this system is to conduct an Assault Bike Tabata. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, maximum effort for 8 rounds (4 minutes total).

Want something a bit more spicy? E4MOM (every 4 minutes) for 16 Minutes complete a 400m run and 10 Medicine Ball Cleans (100-150lbs Med Ball). Moving a heavy/odd object under stress directly transfers to the tactical community.

Power Output - Scaling a wall in full kit, tackling a suspect, lifting a litter, all take power to be facilitated. Power is the relationship between work being done and the time it takes for that work to be completed. Imagine work as the weight on a barbell. Someone lifts the barbell and the repetition takes 3 seconds. A second person lifts the same barbell but completes that rep in 2 seconds. Person two is more powerful.

On The X links power over strength to the tactical community because of power’s relation to athletic ability and task completion. Imagine a high performing wrestler. This individual is not repping out slow, strict, “bodybuilding” reps at the gym. He is training explosiveness, speed, and raw power in the form of power cleans, drop push-ups, landmine variations, etc. I’m not taking anything away from general strength training here, but training power will increase your strength. Training strength will not always increase your power. This is mainly due to the level of coordination it takes to complete powerful tasks. Without ample time to hone your coordination in, your power output will be hindered.

Power cleans, landmine work, push press, and plyometrics are great ways to increase your explosiveness and power.

Mental Preparedness:

I am not a mental performance coach nor am I going to attempt to act as one here. I merely look to bring my own experiences to you in hopes they help you get through the hardships that await.

Get Over It - A lot of high performers suck at one thing in particular, moving past failures. I, for one, have always been extremely hard on myself; since my days of playing football to leading Rangers on combat operations. I have become better at acknowledging my faults, assessing them, and MOVING ON, and im here to tell you that you better start now.

The cadre at your selection will be watching your every move. This includes your personality traits and how to react to adversity. You will fail at some point, that is inevitable. It may be small, it may be big, but when you do I want you to do these things. 1) Assess the failure in an unbiased manner. 2) Decide what you can control and change, and implement a course of action to ensure that mistake does not happen again. 3) MOVE ON! The cadre will see you are capable of learning from mistakes and appreciate that about you. Your classmates will share that appreciation. You will save yourself hours of “getting down on yourself” that can be used to make yourself better.

A friend of mine shared his experience as a Green Beret. He spoke about how his obsession with perfection led to compounding stress and unneeded hardship. He put it to me like this - “Don’t let an obsession with perfection hinder your ability to be good enough”. I am not advocating for you to just be “good enough”. You should be striving to blow “good enough” out of the water. However, understand that obsessing over a mistake will only hinder you in the long run.

One Foot In Front Of The Other - I remember being about halfway through a long training event while I was a Ranger. We were only about 30 kilometers through what would end up being a 56 kilometer movement. I remember thinking to myself “well this has been a lot of walking” as we closed on our 4th training objective. Just like that, I “came too” in my barracks room. A cold Miller Lite in one hand and definitely not a piece of pepperoni pizza from Little Caesar’s in the other.

Early in my career I realized that every single hardship comes to an end quicker than you expect. As you learn to navigate those challenges you almost teleport through them, and you will be a better man because of it. It might be a 12-mile ruck, a 15-minute hard conditioning circuit, or the selection process as a whole. Just put one foot in front of the other. You’'ll be indulging in some “poor me” food before you know it.

Personality Traits:

Some people just suck and there isn’t much you can do about that. It takes a life changing event for an individual to truly shift who they are as a person. You either possess the right personality to be a part of a team or you don’t. This is meant to highlight some of the character flaws often witnessed in military courses as an attempt to bring awareness of what not to do.

Don’t Be That Guy - You only highlight yourself as selfish and a “suck up” when you act a certain way around cadre. Doing the right thing, and blatantly showcasing yourself as “the standard” only while cadre are around to see, just to go back to being a POS when they leave is a dick move and I promise you everyone will notice. The cadre and your peers will take note. You will likely get peered low and the cadre will know you as a fake. This will not help you get picked up. And like I stated before, based on someone’s true personality, they may or may not belong.

The best thing you can do is constantly strive to do the right thing, quietly, regardless of who is or is not watching. I promise you, people will notice.

There Is Always Work To Be Done - A key ability of a high-performing operator is the capacity to work in a team. You and your team will depend on one another to overcome the adversities that will manifest in selection. You should always be looking for work to be done, and the opportunity to help your buddy. You finished repacking your bag before the guy next to you? Good, now go help him with his bag. Your buddy is about to get hemmed up by the cadre and needs a buddy to go with him? You better be the first by his side. These things matter, and they will show the cadre, along with your peers, that you are a team player. Do not get this confused with being a “suck up” or a “try hard”. This should come naturally to you and as long as you aren’t purposely trying to highlight yourself it should not come across as the aforementioned.

A military selection will likely be one of the hardest things you will endure in your lifetime. It is up to you to prepare yourself, both physically and mentally, for the challenges ahead. Don’t look back and wish you were better prepared.

- Jason

The On The X team is here to ensure you Get Selected. To maximize the likelihood of that, navigate to the program page and take a look at our Get Selected program!

Back to blog