Lost father-urgent


New Member
Jun 26, 2016
My daughter is appointed to the class of 2020. She called us in a hysterical state tonight worrying about separation during cadet basic training. From what my wife could gather from her, somehow she has been doing the flex arm hang wrong all along by her chin touching the bar or something (after conversing with other members of the class she met). She is worried the graders will make her leave for this. she's even considering not going. Her academy fitness assessment time was 31.7 seconds for the hang done her way, which she can still meet.

I'm no military guy, so I'm not even sure what to do. I don't want her to overthink what could end up being a minor infraction, but I honestly do not know what to tell her. Are there current cadets or graduates on here that have better knowledge? Should we be mentally preparing for the worst? She has pursued this entire process on her own so I am just at a complete dead end on what to expect and how to handle this as she was barely calmed down earlier. My wife and I want to do what we can. Thanks for your time
My gosh! She is going to need to be more tough minded than this to get through four years at West Point! You should encourage her to get the facts before getting panicky.

My understanding is that an inadvertent "touching" of the bar with the chin is not disqualifying, but resting the chin on the bar stops the clock. Another thing to remember is that one correct pull up trumps the best score on the flex arm hang. I would guess that she will be likely allowed some additional time to improve her form during beast.

What concerns me is that she has had all year to research the correct form and/or to try to build up to one pull up but did not do this?

Here are a couple of links you could send her.

This is the official USMA instructions:
http://www.usma.edu/admissions/shared documents/cfa_instructions.pdf

This Texas MALO (unofficial) PDF describes the fact that a minor chin "touch" is not disqualifying. (see the red text below)
Source: http://www.west-point.org/parent/wppc-greater-houston/MALO - PAE.htm

Event 2B: Flexed Arm Hang

(Women unable to do at least one pull-up)

The Candidate climbs a ladder until her chin is above the bar. She grasps the bar with her hands shoulder width apart. The backs of her hands must be toward her face and thumbs under the bar (Figure 5). On the command "Ready, Go," the Candidate steps off the ladder. Simultaneously, an assistant will remove the ladder and prevent any forward swinging of the legs. The candidate's chin should be level above the bar. The stop watch is started at the command "Go" (Figure 6) and is stopped when: a. her chin rests on the bar (if her chin inadvertently touches the bar, but does not rest on it, the test will continue); b. her head tilts backward to keep her chin above the bar; or c. her chin falls below the level of the bar.

The examiner should record the candidate's time, to the nearest tenth of a second, on the CFA score sheet in the space provided. Only one trial is allowed unless unusual circumstances arise, such as a hand slipping due to perspiration or a misunderstanding of instructions.

Good luck to your cadet!
My sympathies - I am sure it is hard to see her so upset, and knowing you don't have a magic wand.

I assume she passed the CFA with the technique laid out in this link on USMA Admissions site:
http://www.usma.edu/admissions/shared documents/cfa_instructions.pdf

If her technique now varies from that, then it's hers to conquer, the sooner the better. The solution to her upset state of mind lies in her hands, and when she learns how to manage her stress and focus on action, not reaction, she will move forward and through the problem. This is one of those life moments where she has to shift her own state of mind from "I can't" to "I will." You know best how to parent her and what to say to show your belief in her ability to overcome this and succeed.

She's worked so hard to get her appointment, and the tension as the time to report nears has no doubt fueled the level of upset.

I will let others comment about impact on plebe summer, as my input is generally based on observations of USNA mids I have observed over the years. Success during plebe summer is built on lots of other things than pull-ups. I would bet by the end of the summer, she will be doing everything the "right way," and pull-ups to boot.

If your daughter has seldom failed at anything, and has always followed instructions and gotten things right the first time around, a perceived mess-up like this can amplify the upset level. I am a recovering perfectionist, and my time in the Navy taught me that I could fail, that I would fail, and it was on me to solve it and succeed. Best feeling ever when I did.

When she is a junior officer, she will have to coach others through failure. This is everyday leadership. Learning how to coach herself through failure, and not bailing out, is a foundation skill. When any of our USNA sponsor mids hit a wall, failed at something, were stressing out and wondering aloud about quitting, I would ask them if they wanted to be a naval officer (or Marine). Yes. If they wanted to be a Naval Academy graduate. Yes. Then I would simply tell them that USNA and I had complete faith in their ability to solve this, give them a big hug, and ask them what they thought their first step should be, nudging them toward developing and executing their own solution.

I am up at oh-dark-thirty today preparing for some travel, saw this, and hope a new day brings some relief and a better outlook.

Edit: cross-posted with GoKings, parallel thoughts.
@sfpops, you know your daughter better than any of us, but I have a sneaking suspicion this may not be (solely) about the flexed-arm hang. It sounds a lot to me like pre-life-changing-event jitters to me - especially since she brought up possibly not going.

Your daughter will not be separated for doing the flexed-arm hang wrong during BCT. She will do a lot of things "wrong" during BCT, and the detailers will be right there to correct her! Reassure her that she's not going to be separated, that she will make it through, that she will learn how to do things the Army way, that she will make some of the best friends of her life in six short weeks, that she is capable of handling whatever comes her way, and that you love her!
My guess is that she needs to relax and not give up before even starting. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. She's come too far to start "thinking" that she's "lost" already. She hasn't lost until someone kicks her out. My other guess is that she will DO what she is told and and in the form instructed and THAT will be the basis for her passing or not passing or getting another chance or whatever. Good luck to her and PLEASE get her to RELAX!!!!
Just to echo what everyone else has said, the chances of separation based on this arm hang posture or what have you are absolutely zero. The cadets are an investment, before the military cuts them loose for something as trivial as failing a physical fitness requirement, there will be months of remedial fitness training and many more opportunities to pass it.