What Happens If You Fail the Duck Walk at MEPS?

by | Joining the Military | 1 comment

You’ve probably heard about the infamous duck walk at MEPS, a crucial part of your military entrance processing. This quirky exercise tests your flexibility, balance, and coordination, all essential qualities for a successful military career. But what happens if you can’t quite nail it?

Failing the duck walk might seem like a minor hiccup, but it can have significant consequences on your enlistment journey. Understanding the implications and knowing what steps to take next can make all the difference in turning this setback into an opportunity for growth. Let’s jump into what you need to know if you stumble during this critical test.

Understanding MEPS and the Duck Walk

Entering the military requires passing a series of tests at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). One key test is the duck walk.

What Is MEPS?

MEPS stands for Military Entrance Processing Station. It’s where military applicants undergo medical evaluations, background checks, and aptitude tests to determine their fitness for service. Each MEPS location ensures you meet the physical, mental, and moral standards set by the military.

Purpose of the Duck Walk Test

The duck walk test assesses flexibility, balance, and coordination. You squat down and walk forward without standing up, ensuring your muscles and joints function well. The test helps identify any lower-body issues that could hinder performance in physically demanding scenarios, critical for military duties.

Consequences of Failing the Duck Walk

Failing the duck walk test at MEPS can create several challenges in your military entrance process. Understanding what happens next helps you navigate these obstacles more effectively.

Immediate Effects

Should you fail the duck walk, your processing at MEPS halts temporarily. The test evaluates fundamental fitness elements, so failure raises concerns about your physical capabilities for service. Immediate disqualification might not occur; but, you need to address and rectify the issue before moving forward in the enlistment process.

Reevaluation and Retest Options

Upon failing the duck walk, you have options for reevaluation and retests. MEPS allows applicants a chance for rehabilitation before they can retake the test. You might undergo further medical evaluations to identify specific issues. These evaluations help tailor a physical improvement program suited to your needs. Retesting is typically scheduled after this rehabilitation period, giving you the opportunity to prove your readiness for military duties.

Preparing for the Duck Walk Test

You’re gearing up for MEPS, and the duck walk test is on the horizon. This crucial exercise checks your body’s coordination, flexibility, and overall physical fitness. Preparing adequately can make a significant difference.

Physical Exercises to Practice

Strengthen your legs and improve balance with specific exercises. Squats, lunges, and leg lifts target key muscle groups. Squats are essential; perform 3 sets of 15 reps daily. Lunges, especially walking lunges, enhance balance. Include 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg. Leg lifts improve your hip flexors and lower abs. Perform 3 sets of 20 reps.

Flexibility exercises are equally important. Stretch your hamstrings daily and hip flexors regularly. Try the standing hamstring stretch for 1 minute on each leg. Hip flexor stretches hold for 30 seconds per side.

Tips from Veterans

John ‘Jack’ Morgan, a retired master sergeant, shares practical insights. Jack suggests practicing the duck walk itself. Start by squatting and moving a few steps forward without standing. Repeat for 10-15 minutes each day.

Veterans advise maintaining a consistent workout routine. Consistency develops muscle memory, reducing the chance of failure during the test. Jack emphasizes hydration and proper nutrition to sustain energy levels.

Visualize success. Jack reminds applicants to stay mentally focused. Visualization can significantly enhance performance, ensuring you’re mentally prepared.

Alternative Paths in Military Processing

Failing the duck walk at MEPS doesn’t spell the end of your military aspirations. Several alternative paths in military processing can help you overcome obstacles and continue your enlistment journey.

Handling Medical Waivers

Applicants who fail the duck walk might pursue a medical waiver. Medical waivers, vetted by medical professionals, assess whether temporary or permanent conditions impede military duties. To seek a waiver, gather relevant medical records and consult with your physician. If your condition is manageable or temporary, a waiver can allow you to proceed with enlistment. Remember, accurate documentation accelerates approval.

Exploring Different Branch Requirements

Each military branch has distinct physical requirements and assessments. If you fail the duck walk, consider exploring other branches with varying fitness standards. For instance:

  • Army: Focuses on overall strength and endurance. Completion of the Army Combat Fitness Test.
  • Navy: Emphasizes swimming capabilities and cardiovascular endurance. Requires passing the Physical Readiness Test.
  • Air Force: Requires strong aerobic fitness and core strength. Completion of the Physical Fitness Assessment.
  • Marines: Demands rigorous fitness standards with emphasis on combat readiness. Completion of the Physical Fitness Test.

Evaluate physical requirements of different branches to identify potential matches with your abilities. Checking official branch requirements provides clarity on your fit and helps you tailor your fitness regimen.

Alternative paths in military processing offer diverse opportunities for those who fail the duck walk, allowing you to navigate unique challenges and still pursue a military career.


Failing the duck walk at MEPS doesn’t mean the end of your military aspirations. By understanding the importance of preparation and considering alternative paths like medical waivers or different branch requirements you can still achieve your goals. Stay committed to your training and explore all available options. Your determination and adaptability will be key in exploring the enlistment process successfully.


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