What Can E4A Learn From the Marines

Our US Marines are truly some of the most powerful, precise warriors on this planet. What is it that makes them so powerful and lethal? How are they trained? Did you know that the first thing a Marine is taught is how to march? Why? When was the last time you saw a group of Marines “march into battle”? Obviously this is not a good battle technique in 2016. So why do they continue to spend so much time in their initial training doing it?


I posed that question to a retired Marine Drill Instructor. I learned a lot from his response. I think the lessons are applicable to E4A Athletes. Here is his response:

Marines come to boot-camp individuals. They walk at their own pace focused on their own goals. The first thing they are taught is how to MARCH. They are taught to line up in rows and columns so that everyone is in the perfect position. They are taught that each of them lifts the designated foot at the same time on command and sets that foot down in unison with the team matching the Drill Instructor’s cadence. The teamwork they learn through marching is imperative to life as a Marine. No one can accomplish life as a Marine on their own, they MUST work as a team. Boot camp is designed so that if a person will not work with the team they will fail. In boot camp the Drill Instructors spend 16 hours a day teaching Marines to work together to accomplish every task and to focus on the team before self. They are taught to have the discipline to follow commands blindly at first and develop habits of thinking of the team first as they grow. The automatic response to orders is reinforced with recruits from day one to the last day. We want Marines to trust their leaders and follow their commands. A command to move may be the difference between living and dying. A Marine that takes an extra step after being told to halt, may step on a land mine. Discipline, discipline, discipline. Marines must be disciplined or they risk serious consequences. Marines learn through marching to have discipline to obey orders and follow their leadership. The team works together to accomplish goals, whether that is moving from a classroom to lunch or taking a city from an enemy force. A Marine should always think of the team first and if they never think of themselves, they can trust that their buddy will think of them…I used to say, “there is nothing I can’t accomplish with 100 Marines and a little time.”

We feel the same way as this drill instructor. We honestly feel like there is nothing we can’t accomplish with a group of athletes that are committed to the E4A principles and work in unison to accomplish them. We are not fighting battles like Marines, but we are trying to accomplish a very important goal. We challenge athletes to change the culture of their school to be one of acceptance, of kindness, and of appreciation. Our goal is to help every kid at every school to feel loved, important and included. Is that a hard challenge? Of course it is. But we believe that if athletes band together, become unified and keep their eyes up looking out for others, and do the work necessary to lift them, they can change a culture. Please, band together athletes, with Marine like unity. Band together and make sure that those in your school feel important. If you work together as a team of athletes, there is nothing you cannot accomplish. Be disciplined in keeping your eyes up and doing the work, and do it together. You will be a powerful culture changing force if you do.

Shad Martin
Especially for Athletes