Comparisons and Intercorrelations of Physical Performance Variables of Operational Preparedness in Special Operations Forces

Jeremy A. Ross, Joshua D. Winters, Scott D. Royer, Matthew C. Hoch, Reiley Bergin, Nathan Morelli, Caitlin Conley, Ryan L. Sheppard, Nicholas R. Heebner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) deploys teams of operators (OP) and enablers (EN) to accomplish special operations missions. OP and EN are required to train and deploy together to accomplish these missions; however, they have different training and selection pipelines. Advanced strength and conditioning training strategies are applied to both OP and EN to enhance physical preparedness; however, it is unclear how the selection pipeline of these two personnel types affects overall physical preparedness and the relationships between performance variables. The purpose of this study is to gain a greater understanding of the relationships of a wide array of physical preparedness variables in OP and EN in an effort to streamline testing and training strategies. MATERIALS AND METHODS: For this study, 155 male (82 OP, 73 EN) MARSOC personnel (age: 29.5 ± 4.9 years, mass: 87.9 ± 11.1 kg, height: 1.79 ± 0.07 m) completed a physical preparedness assessment that included a DEXA assessment of body composition (BF%), 27.4 m sprint (30 yd), countermovement jump (VJ), 5-10-5 pro-agility (Agility), medicine ball toss (UBP), isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP), and a 30 second (AnC) and 5 minute (AC) non-motorized treadmill run. Independent samples t tests, Mann-Whitney U tests, and Spearman's Rank correlations were used to compare variables between OP and EN. RESULTS: OP demonstrated greater VJ, UBP, IMTP, AnC, and AC (P < 0.05); and significantly lower BF% and agility time (P < 0.05). Measurements of mass, height, body mass index, and 30 yd were not significantly different (P > 0.05). Weak to moderate correlations were seen between anthropometric and performance variables. OP and EN demonstrated similar correlations for most performance and anthropometric variables. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that MARSOC OP demonstrate better physical preparedness over EN, while similar trends are observed between performance variables. Tests with moderate to high correlations may be removed from the protocol to account for testing time constraints. Height, weight, and BF% variables are poorly correlated with performance, particularly in OP, questioning their value in physical performance assessments in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1109-e1116
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 16 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Association of Military Surgeons of the United States 2021. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparisons and Intercorrelations of Physical Performance Variables of Operational Preparedness in Special Operations Forces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this