I’ve recently heard from several individuals that are preparing to enter for Special Forces Selection. This isn’t something new: I’ve gotten emails from people ever since I began writing here. But what’s different about these latest candidates is that they are a bit older than the average candidate. They range from 32 to the mid-30s; there is even a potential candidate who is pushing 40. 

While it is far from impossible, at that age, there are certain factors that just can’t be ignored. Going through and passing Selection is a grind even for someone much younger than any of these candidates are. 

As much as some of us don’t want to admit it, your body doesn’t quite recover as fast as you get older and it is more susceptible to injury than when you were in your mid-20s. And the pace of Selection, and the recovery time it affords, is never really sufficient, to begin with. It is guaranteed that candidates will be tired, hungry, sore, and mentally mush at certain points of the course. It is okay to be that way. The course is designed to do that to all of the candidates. It is the right of passage to get to the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) and then, hopefully, for the right candidates, to a spot on an SF A-Team.

A factor that is completely out of the candidates’ hands is that the SF Recruiters and the schoolhouse will have to decide if they will even accept older candidates. Being in your early 30s is one thing. Pushing 40 is another.

It takes time to get in, pass Selection, then get a class date for the SFQC, and get basically qualified in an 18 series MOS. Then, before a new team member is truly integrated, he or she will go through a lot more training, honing their skills to reach their peak of operational ability. At that point, how much time can a team member be counted on to stay on an A-Team? But that is beyond our pay grade; we just prepare as best we can and don’t worry about what we can’t control.  

So, my advice regarding passing Selection or SFAS is to think really hard about it. It will be extremely difficult and a particular challenge for older candidates.

Back in January, I took in some sessions with the “body coaches” at the TB-12 clinic in Foxboro, Massachusetts. TB-12 is a sports clinic that Tom Brady and Alex Guererro have put together (there is one opening in Tampa soon). The clinic helped Brady still play at a high level in the NFL whereas most players his age have long been retired. TB-12 preaches getting muscles, long, soft, and pliable. They treated some Green Berets last November in a partnership with the Green Beret Foundation.

The clinic’s approach may work for you; it is certainly worth a detailed look. Showing up in the best shape of your life for Selection is an absolute must. The course has to be, at least in the beginning, something that is easily attainable physically. That will change as things progress.