In this article, I would like to teach you how to deal with APFT Failures in the Army National Guard. APFT Failures and Height/Weight Failures are a big problem in the ARNG and Army Reserves. In many units, upwards of 20-50% of the Soldiers fail the APFT or HT/WT. Of course, not all units are that high, but just about every unit I’ve ever served in had a failure rate of 20% or more. If your unit has less than that, consider yourself fortunate.
As a leader, your job is to minimize these failures as much as possible. Since physical fitness is a big part of unit readiness, you need some type of game-plan to reduce this number as much as possible. To do so, I’m going to share eight tips with you on how to deal with APFT Failures in the Army National Guard. Let’s get started.
Tip # 1: Let Your Soldiers Know Your Policy About APFT Failures
All Commanders need a written policy letter concerning physical fitness. This policy should clearly outline WHAT the consequences will be if someone fails either the HT/WT or APFT. The policy letter should be given to each Soldier, posted on the Unit Bulletin Board, and explained to everyone.
I know it’s difficult to schedule physical fitness during drill weekend. After all, you are already trying to put 10 pound of rocks into a five pound bag. You have meetings, training events, and limited time to get everything done. You have a couple options. You could do PT before first formation for anyone who wanted to attend. It would be optional, not mandatory. Also, you could incorporate PT into some of your training events, even if it is informal.
Tip # 3: Accept that Physical Fitness is an Individual Responsibility
You have to realize that you only have control over your Soldiers 2 days per month. Even if you do two days worth of PT with them, it’s up to THEM to stay in shape the other 28 days of the month. It’s an individual responsibility. You need to remind your Soldiers of that. It’s not like Active Duty where you interact with your Soldiers daily. If your Soldiers don’t work out on their own, they won’t pass the APFT.
Tip # 4 Counsel People Who Fail the APFT or HT/WT and Enforce the Standard
Whenever someone fails either event, you need to do a formal counseling with them immediately. Fill out a DA Form 4856 and explain to them the standard, how they fell short and what will happen next.
Tip # 5 FLAG All Soldiers Who Fail the APFT
I highly recommend you FLAG everyone who fails the APFT or HT/WT. I’ve personally met some Soldiers in the ARNG who hadn’t passed an APFT in 10 years, but were never FLAGGED. Make it a policy to flag everyone who fails either event until they can PASS. Don’t let people slip through the cracks. Hold everyone accountable to the same standard. Let them know that YOU are serious about physical fitness.
Tip # 6: Do What You Can to Help Your APFT Failures Improve
As a leader, do what you can to help your APFT Failures improve. Enroll them in FIT-P. Enroll them in the Army Weight Control Program. Offer to work out with them at the gym, if you live close to them. Talk to them about signing up for a gym membership. Help them create a workout schedule. Even though it’s their responsibility, do what you can to help them improve. That’s what being a leader is all about.
Tip # 7: Reward Your Superstar APFT Performers
Another important thing to do is to reward people who meet or exceed the standard. When you have Soldiers score a 270 or higher, recognize them in front of the formation. Put them in for an AAM for getting a high score or give them a unit coin. Show everyone that you will recognize people who exceed the APFT Standards.
Tip # 8: Lead by Example
As the leader of the organization, you should lead by example at all times. That means you pass both events and do your best. You don’t have to get the highest score, but you need to set a good example for others to follow. Also, make sure that you ALWAYS take your APFT and HT/WT test in front of your Soldiers, so they can see you doing it. Perception is reality.
If you follow these eight steps, you will know how to deal with APFT Failures in your Army National Guard Unit.
What are your thoughts? You can post your opinions or questions below. Thank you.