Why Do Candidates Fail out of BUD/S?

buds seal dropJust received this question “Coach, why do people fail out of Navy SEAL BUDS training?

As one of those candidates that did fail out of BUDS the first time I figured I could answer that question with a little bit of authority.

I failed out of BUDS for a math test in second phase (Dive Phase). I came back the next year and passed all the way through with no deficiencies.

That said – only 16 candidates made it through in that class. An 80 plus % fail rate. Athletes failed out for a number of reasons.

Many of them just quit and rang the bell.

Why is the fail rate so high in BUDS? Despite 3 decades plus of heavy efforts to make training better the powers that be have not moved the needle at all.

Looking for a great Pre-BUD/s Training Plan? Click HERE!

The drop rate for BUDS is still 80% plus. An interesting fact if that 90% of all SEALFIT academy and Kokoro grads have passed BUDS. That is a crazy statistic.

Most come to BUDS in very good physical shape. But they clearly lack the mental part as they begin to drop out very quickly in the second week.

Tips to not get dropped at BUDS:

Tip #1

Train hard and smart with long distance endurance. If your doing a 20 minute CrossFit metcons at the gym – that is great. But run or ruck or bike to the gym and do the same on the way home. Add in longer endurance to your workouts.

These boots are lightweight and drain well when you get them wet. The Bates are a good all around boot that will get the job done whether you are ruck marching or going to the gym to flip tires.

Tip #2

Read a ton of books like “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.

This will help you to realize what is involved in this commitment.

Going to BUDS and being in the Teams is not for the faint of heart.

You can’t be lukewarm and want to go to BUDS and finish. You need to be on fire and know your “why”.

Tip #3

You need to be doing this every day.

Questions from our readers online.

Question: What does DOR mean in BUDS? The term DOR means Drop on Request meaning that you said you are quitting or ringing the bell.

Question: Coach, why do most guys quit at BUDS? There are a mixed bag of reasons but from my observations most quitters emerged in the night after getting cold in the surf. Going back in the surf one more time was just too much. Guys don’t quit at the doorway to the chow hall when they are getting ready for a hot meal and a sit down.

Question: Did you see a lot of injuries at BUDS? I saw a few but I remember more quitters than injuries. Or you would see what is called a “quinjury”. Where a guy quits but blames it on the injury.

Question: How much do your chances improve after completing Hell Week? Good question. There probably are actual stats but i am not sure so here is a rough guess.

Your percent of graduation moves to about 50% chance instead of less than 20% I would say after pool comp you move to 80% chance. Third phase you move to 90% as there are still wash outs and safety violations

After buds you still have a 5% chance of washout (DUI, fighting, drugs, shooting electrical transformers, deciding you don’t want to sky diveā€¦.seen some weird stuff) before you get your Trident 6 months later.


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.

Proceeds from this website go to help raise funds for the Navy SEAL Foundation.

Related Articles:
Tips to Get Kicked out of Special Forces Training

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