Training to Strengths & Weaknesses – AF Special Warfare

Training to Strengths & Weaknesses

The Problem

A common mistake guys consistently make when training for selection is how and where they focus their energy while training. Too often, candidates are spending time in the exact opposite manner as they should be to prepare for what could be considered the biggest hurdle of their entire life.  

Battlefield Airmen selection courses are built around a set of standards that must be met prior to graduation. Simple concept, right?  But the point I want to make is that in order to graduate, you must meet ALL of the standards. Selection courses and the instructors assigned to them don’t care if you can run a 5’30 mile, knock out 30 pullups and swim like Michael Phelps if you can only do 30 push-ups. Likewise, if you can do 1:15 interval underwaters and perform 50m underwaters all day but can’t tread water for 2 minutes, you’re a failure in the same capacity as the guy that sucks at everything.

The above shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise- it’s a simple concept to grasp: you must pass all the standards in order to graduate. But there is an inherent tendency to not apply this concept when we are training. As humans, we naturally gravitate to events we are strong in and reluctantly avoid items we are poor at. Think about it- we do this in the academic classes we sign up for in school, the sports we choose to play and how we workout while at the gym.  We naturally enjoy doing things we are good at and do them more often than things we are poor at.  By doing this, we become better at the things we were already good at and remain lousy at the items we sucked at to begin with.

The Solution

This tendency ultimately sets us up for failure when training for selection. By avoiding your weak points, you are failing to neutrale your greatest threat for course failure. To combat this phenomenon, you need to be cognizant of this trap and FOCUS ON IMPROVING YOUR WEAKNESSES WHILE MAINTAINING YOUR STRENGTHS.  Come to grips with the fact that you suck at some things. But embrace the challenge of turning your weaknesses into a strength.

The benchmark for determining your strengths and weaknesses can be as simple as utilizing the graduation standards of your selection course as a guideline, such as Indoc.  The PAST is not a good standard to use as it is considered a baseline requirement to enter selection.  If you train to solely pass the PAST, you will not be successful.  Train past the PAST.

Identify your weak points and make it a personal challenge to be better at your poor events.  It is often said a special operator is a Jack of All Trades, Master of None.  Embrace that mantra.  There is no need to be great at one thing, but you do need to be good at everything.

Now go kick some ass.


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