How Hard is it to become a Navy SEAL?

20 min no excuses Navy Seal workoutWe get this question about every two weeks. “Coach, how hard is it really to become a Navy SEAL?”

Well.. let me put it in perspective for you.

About 1 in 10 young males growing up proclaim they want to be a Navy SEAL.

Probably more – we all dream of doing something fun and adventurous and want to climb Mt Everest.

Everyone likes to do something larger than life and be a Hero.

BUDS class 234 in Hell Week

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From the US Navy statistics – Only 6% of Navy SEAL applicants qualify to go to BUDS. Of those candidates only 25% go on to become Navy SEALs. You have a better chance of applying to Harvard Law and graduating than you do becoming a frogman.

A real life example: I was one of 50 guys in my boot camp platoon that went to try outs for the SEALs in Navy boot camp. That is 2% of that group. I then became one of 20 candidates lined up at the pool. Only 2 in 20 made it. That is only 10% of those young men. So of that original 2% pool – only 10% of that group went on.

Once I got to BUDS – there were 140 candidates lined up on the grinder. Those 140 were a combination of those pool side events to find SEAL candidates. Remember that only 2 of my group made it. So they needed about 70 pool side events to get a pool of 140.

Once BUDS started – all Hell broke out – literally. Over the next 6 months many were injured and quit. We were left with only 16 of the original 140 in BUDS Class 132. That is a 88 percent fail rate. The normal rate over the past years is about 80% fail rate.

Question: What kind of boots do they wear at BUDS? You will be issued Bates 922 boots while you are at BUDS.

Before that they issued us Altama Jungle Boots.

The Bates are lighter and supposed to help reduce shin splints which decreases injuries and keeps more guys in the program.

Listen to Positive Mental Edge Stuff while You Ruck and Workout

Statistics from the US Navy:
How many people make it through BUD/S?
Each year, about 1,000 men start SEAL training. Although training success rates vary per class, usually about 200-250 men succeed each year. Candidates who have Physical Screening Test scores above 800 are three times more likely to succeed than those men who only meet the minimum requirements.

You probably have an equal chance of playing NFL Pro Football or basketball where less than 1% of all high school athletes make it to professional sports.

Question: What socks do they issue at BUDS?

Currently they are issuing the Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks.

These are really great socks. You may pay a few dollars more but they will last and last.

Pretty hard to destroy these socks.

BUDS is pretty freakin’ hard. Good luck.

Question: How can I reduce chafing at BUDS or other long endurance events?

We used vaseline in our socks and in our crotch but sometimes that attracts more sand.

The best way is to get some Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Balm and put that on your feet, your crotch and under your arm pits and nipples.

Your nipples can get rubbed raw and bleeding from the salt water and sand so you want to protect your body.

Navy SEALs BUD/S Class 234 – Part 1 – Welcome To BUD/S

Question: What kind of shorts do BUDS candidates wear to reduce chaffing? Guys will wear compression shorts like the Nike Pro-Core Compression Shorts to keep out the sand and keep in the vaseline or body glide anti-chafe cream. Yes; sand can still get in. But it will definitely help.

Try going through Hell Week at BUDS with cotton underwear and let us know how that goes. Chaffing is a real threat and guys have been rolled for extreme chaffing. Don’t try to be macho, get your body glide and compression shorts and be prepared.

Questions from our readers online:

Question: Coach, what was the hardest part of BUDS for you? I would have to say it was being in the cold water for long periods of time. I am not a fan of cold water.

Question: When did most guys quit – and Why? The first and second night of Hell Week. They got tired of being wet and cold and sandy with no relief in sight.

Check out this link with a PDF of stats of high school athletes making it to professional sports.

Click to access Probability-of-going-pro-methodology_Update2013.pdf


Brad McLeod is married with two kids and an all around average family guy.

He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and despite training all the wrong ways – made it to Navy SEAL training in Coronado, California.

He flunked out of Navy SEAL BUD/S training after making it over half way through (6 months of grueling training). After a year in the Fleet Navy on the USS Cleveland (LPD-7) he came back to graduate BUDS and serve on SEAL Team Four.

His story is simple–Don’t Ever Quit on your Dream! Put one foot in front of the other and fall forward.

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