6 Questions to Ask Yourself to Decide Whether SEAL Training Might Be Right for You

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) candidates cover themselves in sand during surf passage on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California.
Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) candidates cover themselves in sand during surf passage on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell/U.S. Navy photo)

A young man about to go to college emailed me with some specific questions about preparing for SEAL training, as well as other special forces in our military. Seems he is trying to figure out his future and what service is right for him. That is a tough decision, but if done with some self-realization, you can make a wise choice for your personality. 

For me, I have always loved the ocean. I guess growing up in Florida helped me realize that, so the Navy made a lot of sense to me. And most Navy bases are very close to a nice beach. That was a big draw, too. The option to choose SEAL teams was really a no-brainer, too. I grew up hunting and fishing in or near the water. I played several sports in high school, so I thought that the active, outdoor lifestyle of being a SEAL appealed to me the most. And continuing to be a part of a team was a must.

Learn More About Navy SEALs

For you and others like you, you should look at the last 10 years of your life and ask yourself:

1. Did I swim, SCUBA dive, surf and become comfortable in the water, even at night?

2. Did I enjoy running and backpacking in the woods and mountains?

3. Did I play sports and understand what it means to be a part of a team?

4. Were sports like football, wrestling, track, swimming, lacrosse and soccer challenging physically and mentally?

5. Did I learn to play with pain and understand the difference between being hurt and being injured?

6. Did I work out nearly every day and feel like I cheated myself when I skipped a workout?

If you can answer yes to these types of introspective questions, then you might be right for SEALs/EOD and other special forces like Army Special Forces, Marine RECON or Air Force PJ.

Below are the young man's questions concerning his future choices:

1. What sports should I partake in to keep up my level of fitness before I attend BUD/S?  

I would recommend swimming, track and wrestling; then again, any contact sport will do. SEALs come from all types of backgrounds. One is not better than the other, but it helps to understand teamwork and playing with pain and discomfort. No matter what you do, you should always run, swim and PT several times a week...

2. Will Mini-BUD/S help me to prepare for BUD/S?

Yes, it will make you find out whether you want to do it. That is for sure. It is a good test. Right now, there is no mini-BUD/S for ROTC students because of the SEAL training command ramping up to increase the number of SEALs in the Navy. The instructors are busy during this time of war. But check out the SEAL Training Adventures website for another option that many ROTC/USNA mids are doing. It is operated by former SEAL Don Mann.

3. Can weightlifting help with my training?

It's not really necessary; there are no weights at BUD/S. Read the article "No Weights at Boot Camp."

However, if you insist, weights can help balance out your training with shoulder workouts and other upper-body gripping exercises. Rope climbing or towel pull-ups are better for grip, though. I recommend adding some weights to break up the monotony of training. See the "Weights and PT Workouts" article.

4. I'd like to be a SEAL sniper. Is there anything I could do to prepare myself for that?

Practice shooting or take a shooting course. ... Otherwise, do not sweat it until you have graduated from special forces training. You are getting ahead of yourself. Get through training first.

Find Available Special Operations Opportunities

Related Navy Special Operations articles:

Many of my favorite PT programs to train can be found at the following Military.com links:

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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