Psychological and physical preparation for NS

Last updated 30 April 2024

What you need to know

  • You will face a period of transition and it is normal for you to have adjustment challenges in the first few weeks of National Service (NS).
  • During basic training, you will be paired with a buddy for peer support and your commanders will also conduct routine interviews to check in on you.
  • As part of basic training, you will be taught to recognise signs of distress, know the various avenues of support, and learn how to manage stress and overcome challenges as you gradually build up your psychological resilience.
  • The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) have zero tolerance towards illegal acts such as drug abuse, vaping, and drink-driving.

What you can do

  • Adopt a positive mindset and attitude towards your NS experience.
  • If you are not coping well, do not hesitate to speak to your loved ones or contact professional counsellors and dedicated helplines.
  • If you have any concerns, feel free to speak with your commanders.

Preparing yourself mentally

It is normal for you to face adjustment challenges in the first few weeks of National Service (NS). During the first 2 weeks of basic training, expect a transition period where you will stay in camp and follow regimental routines. These are some ways you can prepare yourself mentally for NS:

  • Try to adopt a positive attitude towards the rules and regulations in NS. They will help you learn self-discipline and mental resilience.
  • Find out more about life in NS through the internet or by talking to different people.
  • Attend the open houses of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) or Singapore Police Force (SPF).
  • Join a relative on his enlistment day camp tour.
  • Learn about the terms used in NS like rank structures and foot drill commands.
  • Learn how to hand wash your own laundry and clean your room.
  • Learn to work as a team as it allows you to learn to relate to people from all walks of life.

Serving in NS is seen as a rite of passage for all males in many other countries too. It also helps to develop character and increase maturity in a crucial part of your life journey from ‘boys to men’.

It is normal if you experience:

  • Homesickness
  • Feeling upset about losing your freedom
  • Financial burdens
  • Stress from training every day
  • Stress from communal living or getting along with fellow recruits
  • Relationship issues

To keep a positive attitude and cope with these issues, stay connected with your friends and family. Talk to them if you are facing any difficulties, or:

  • approach your commanders
  • visit the Care Hub for assistance
  • call your uniformed service’s counselling helpline for professional help and advice

Counselling helplines

Do not hesitate to speak to trained professionals that can provide solutions and better understand what you are going through. These calls are kept confidential, and you can choose to remain anonymous.

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)

Counselling helpline
1800 278 0022
Operating hours

24 hours

Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)

Counselling helpline
1800 286 6666
Operating hours

24 hours

Singapore Police Force (SPF)

Counselling helpline
1800 255 1151
Operating hours

Monday to Friday: 8.30am – 6.30pm, excluding public holidays

Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA)

Counselling helpline
Sana live chat
Operating hours

Monday to Friday: 6.00pm – 9.30pm

Visit the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) website to find out more about where to seek help.

Preparing yourself physically

You are encouraged to keep fit before your enlistment so it will be easier to deal with the physical demands of basic training. We recommend these sports:


You’ll need to swim as one of the exercises during basic training.

Cardiovascular endurance sports (like jogging or cycling)

To train your endurance to carry heavy loads over long distances. It may be required during your training.

Rock climbing, archery, or air rifle

To train your mental strength, focus, and ability to cope under pressure.

Team sports (like basketball and soccer)

Team sports can help to develop a sense of camaraderie and team spirit. It’s important as in NS, you’ll need to learn to work with other people as well.

Martial arts (like wushu, taekwondo, and judo)

Learning martial arts helps you to develop a sense of readiness and a spirit of self-defence.

Structures for care and support throughout NS

There are systems and structures in place for you to feel heard and supported. These include:

  • Buddy system

    : You will have a peer to lean on for support and empathise with.

  • Regular check-ins by commanders

    : You can speak to your commanders any time.

  • Learning how to take care of himself

    : As part of basic training, you will be taught ways to build your mental resilience. This begins with self-awareness, by learning how to recognise physical and psychological signs of stress.

  • On-site Care Hub

    : Orientation Officers, counsellors, psychologists, and Medical Officers will be able to help with your worries and issues related to National Service (NS) life. It is a safe space where you can share your concerns with trained professionals, without fear of judgment.

  • Financial assistance

    : If your family is facing financial obstacles, you can apply for financial assistance through these ways:

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)

How to apply
  • Speak to your unit manpower officer (S1)

  • Speak to your officer during the interview session

  • Contact MINDEF Shared Services – Personnel Services Centre at 6373 1140 or 6373 1155

Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)

How to apply
  • Submit your application together with your supporting documents through your Platoon Commander to the Human Resource Department

Singapore Police Force (SPF)

How to apply
  • Apply through your course manager if you’re a trainee at the Home Team Academy

  • Apply through your Divisional Manpower Officer if you are a Police full-time National Serviceman (NSF) in a Land Division or Staff Department

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