Avoid This Common Mistake New Recruits Make In USCG Boot Camp

In this lesson I'm going to reveal to you one of the most simple mistakes that new recruits make when they first get to USCG Boot Camp. I'm also going to explain how to avoid it. While the mistake itself isn't exclusive to when you're doing physical training, it most often happens during physical training - and the Company Commanders love to catch recruits on it. It's a simple concept known as RESPOND and THEN REACT. Let me elaborate...

During your time at Cape May, almost everything you do will be done on command. You have to ask permission to do everything and you have to do everything you are told. After the first 2 weeks you will start picking up on certain patterns, which overall is a positive thing, but it can hurt you in one big way and that's if you start anticipating commands. Let me break it down for you right now.


Never anticipate.

You NEVER anticipate commands and you ALWAYS respond to the command first, and then execute it. DO NOT respond and execute at the same time. This applies to everything that you do in USCG Boot Camp, not just physical fitness training. Again, the reason why I'm mentioning it here is because recruits most often screw this up during PT / IT. Let me give you an example to demonstrate.

Your Company Commander (lets say it's Petty Officer Smith) will give the command: "Push-up position take!" to which you will all respond loudly with "Aye, aye Petty Officer Smith!". * Immediately after responding, you will all get into the push-up position, but you do NOT move your body until after the words "Aye, aye Petty Officer Smith!" finish coming out of your mouth. Respond then react.

As simple as it sounds, the reason why many of my shipmates screwed it up - especially at the beginning - was because the pace is fast and there are different commands being fired off, one after the other. You naturally want to move as fast as possible as soon as the command is given, but you have to remind yourself to respond before moving your body to execute the command.

You'll see your shipmates screw this up. I promise you it will happen. If enough of your shipmates fail to respond and then react, your entire company will go through a "fun" exercise to hammer this point into your skulls.


1,200 squats in 20 minutes? Sure, why not.

My Company Commander had us pick up our ink stick (pen) and put it back down on the floor for about 20 minutes straight. He would blow his whistle and we'd have to yell (RESPOND) to acknowledge that we heard his command (the whistle) and then we'd alternate between picking up and putting down our pen (REACT). 20 minutes doesn't sound like a long time, but it is when you are forced to pick up and put down a pen at lightning speed while yelling "Aye, aye Petty Officer Whoever" at the sound of each whistle.

Essentially we were doing one squat per second for 20 minutes with no rest. With 60 seconds in a minute, that came out to be about 1200 squats. Hopefully your company will learn to respond and then react quickly enough so that you won't have to do that "fun" little exercise. At the very least, by reading this now you can prepare yourself so that you don't contribute to the group punishment if you do end up getting punished as a company for screwing this up. In addition, even if your Company Commanders do punish you as a group, they will make note of those who adapted and this will help you in the long run. So make sure you show up already knowing this and don't get jacked up for making a mistake. Just so you have a more complete idea, I'll continue with Petty Officer Smith from above.


Typical Example from USCG Boot Camp

Petty Officer Smith: Push-up position take!
Your company: Aye, aye Petty Officer Smith!
Your company then gets into the push-up position.
Petty Officer Smith: Push-ups begin!
Your company: Aye, aye Petty Officer Smith!
Your company then begins doing push-ups.

At some point Petty Officer Smith will decide that you've had enough of a beating and he (or she) will yell "Stop!". At that point you will respond with "Aye, aye Petty Officer Smith!" and stop. This is probably the only command you can get away with responding and executing at the same time. In most cases they will immediately follow the "Stop!" command with "On your feet!" or "Recover" to which you will again respond with "Aye, aye Petty Officer Smith!" and then get on your feet.

Sometimes though, to check who's responding and then reacting properly, they will only say "Stop!". When they do this you respond and stop, but you do not get out of the push-up position. Whoever does gets their head chewed off. Like I said earlier - show up already knowing so you don't mess up. Impress your Company Commanders right from the beginning and your life will be that much easier in USCG Boot Camp.

* In the first 2 weeks you won't actually say the person who gave the command, but will simply respond with "Aye, aye Sir!" or "Aye, aye Ma'am!". Once you have your class on rates and ranks then you will begin referring to people by their pay grade and last name. I cover this in great detail in Chapter Six of the Coast Guard Boot Camp Survival Guide because learning how to speak / respond correctly is one of the best ways to protect yourself from your Company Commanders. It also takes a bit of time and practice to get it perfect, and in Cape May only perfect counts. Little mistakes lead to big problems. There's a lot to learn. Do yourself a HUGE favor and start studying these things now.

I hope you found this article informative. You can check out some more FREE lessons on USCG Boot Camp Training by using the site menu at the top of this page. You can also learn more about how to secure yourself a copy of the Coast Guard Boot Camp Fitness Success Program by clicking here. They are designed with your current fitness level in mind and run for only $19.97 (FREE for a limited time).

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As always, thank you for your support.