What Is a Tactical Athlete?

January 29, 2013 | Stephen Erle

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This is the first article in a series on the Tactical Athlete from SEAL Training Adventures. Through this series, you'll learn the latest tips, techniques and workouts used to prepare recruits for Special Ops programs like the Navy SEALs BUD/S training. Training like a Navy SEAL prepares you for any sport, because SEALs must maintain a heightened ability to focus, run, jump, swim and move like a linebacker with the grace of a dancer.

"Tactical athlete" is a relatively new phrase in the military and sports training world. Some do not even recognize the need for, or the existence of, military personnel as athletes. As a professional strength coach for more than 20 years, I can tell you that tactical athletes are some of the best athletes in the world—mainly because if they are not good at what they do, it can cost lives on the battlefield.

A tactical athlete is a person with the physical ability, stamina and strength to function on the battlefield. Similar to athletes who participate in regular sports, tactical athletes must be strong, fast and agile—but also have the endurance to perform repeatedly. To get better on the battlefield, they must focus on exercises that directly translate to the demands of their jobs.

Beyond the requirements of many other sports, tactical athletes must work on their musclar endurance and cardiovascular stamina. You could be the most powerful or fastest athlete in the world, but it won't matter if you can't sustain your performance when it's needed most. The battlefield doesn't have a clock or an end game. If you tire, you could put your life, or a buddy's life, in danger.

To make matters worse, you often have to perform at your peak with bullets flying over your head. Talk about pressure. So it's critical to add a mental stress component to keep your heart rate low so your fine motor coordination is not affected when you need it. (Learn the secret to Navy SEALs' mental toughness)

As we progress through this series, we will be discussing the various training and nutritional components necessary to succeed on the battlefield. We will also introduce programs like SEAL Training Adventures, Heroes of Tomorrow and Tactical Athletic Clinic, which will help you become a better tactical athlete.

Stephen Erle
- Stephen Erle is the training director for SEAL Training Adventures and the strength and conditioning coach for the University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, Va.). He...
Stephen Erle
- Stephen Erle is the training director for SEAL Training Adventures and the strength and conditioning coach for the University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, Va.). He...
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