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The Top 5 Reasons Why People Fail Boot Camp

The Top 5 Reasons Why People Fail Boot Camp

Michael Volkin

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Let’s face it, basic training is tough. For the first time ever recruits find themselves having to wait for permission to eat or even go to the bathroom. Given the several weeks of rigorous mental and physical stress, it’s no wonder that many recruits fail basic training before graduation. But did you know that 90% of what you learn at basic training you can learn before you even look at a drill sergeant? Won’t that make life easier! Here are the top 5 reasons why people fail boot camp:

5) Lack of physical preparation - Often times a recruit thinks they are fit enough for basic training because they spent several months before boot camp going to the gym. Guess what, you won’t see a gym at basic training. The workouts you do at boot camp are specifically designed to strengthen the core muscle groups to prepare your muscles for combat situations.

4) Lack of personal drive - Why did you join the military? Did you join because you love your country, because of the college benefits, or because you needed more structure in your life? Whatever the case, it is important to keep that focus through the good and bad times at boot camp. It might sound cheesy, but before you leave for basic training, write the number one reason why you’re in the military.  Keep it with you during basic training and refer to it whenever you need a morale booster.

3) Easily intimidated - I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a muscular, tough-looking guy at basic training claim that drill sergeants won’t scare him. Then, when the drill sergeants start yelling, they are the first ones with their palms on the pavement banging out those push ups. If you don’t understand how a drill sergeant needs to break your civilian habits down and build you back up into an intimidating fighting force in just a few weeks, you will not have a good time at basic training.

2) Lack of knowledge - When you arrive at basic training, you will receive what’s called a “smart book.” It will contain tons of detailed information including the phonetic alphabet, marching procedures, military traditions, and more. Often a recruit has trouble absorbing all this information in such a short time. Do you know your phonetic alphabet, your general orders, how to read military time, and the soldiers code? If not, memorize this information before even seeing a drill sergeant.

1) Lack of mental preparation - This is the number one reason recruits fail basic training.  Many people think the lack of physical preparation would be the number one reason. However, MENTALLY preparing yourself for basic training is more important than the previous four reasons, combined. Why? If you’re prepared for basic training mentally everything else will fall into place. You won’t mind waking up at 5 a.m. to do road marches or buff the barracks floor. Your mind will be clear and focused on a single goal, for you to graduate. By preparing properly you can even achieve rank and higher pay faster! Now there is a great reason to prepare properly for boot camp.
In my book The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, I focus on these 5 topics to make sure you will be more than prepared for a very stressful couple months.

SGT Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Surviving Boot Camp, available at

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