I have often used the martial arts or rather, more specifically, the practice of hand to hand combat techniques, training, and philosophies to help players better understand instruction. I am a huge believer in “biomechanics” and “kinematics”. Now, I am no scientist and I certainly don’t mean to suggest that I am an expert on these topics. I don’t even use the terms in the literal sense when I reference them. However, these techniques have proven to work and that’s what I choose to call it, so… there.
Now, many people believe that Kung Fu is a martial art from China and they would be partially correct. It is not necessarily inaccurate but the literal translation for the Chinese term Kung Fu is “hard work” and can be applied to anything someone has achieved great skill in by studying or dedicating themselves to its pursuit. Keep that in mind as you read on.
Paintball can certainly be approached from a martial perspective. If you look at it from the perspective of a set of skills to be applied in order to defeat your opponent, it can translate very well. Especially when applied to the physical as well as the mental. We use footwork, body positioning, conditioning, active and reactive response to our opponents, tactics and strategies… we apply techniques to keep us safe and to ultimately defeat our competitors.
The author working some basic Kali stick drills
That being said, starting next year and hopefully with assistance from some friends of mine in the professional paintball community, we will try and bring you some paintball “Gun-Fu” lessons. The details are being hashed out now and I am really excited about this opportunity to share with you what I really hope to be an impactful endeavor by Prime and the programs good friends and sponsors. So keep an eye out for these lessons in Gun Fu… they should be fun but most importantly, informative.
On a completely separate topic, I wanted to make some quick comments about the off season. Something that is often overlooked and every bit as important as putting in the time and hard work required to become a better player. It may appear counter intuitive but I assure you that is not the case. I am willing to bet the majority of pros use this very simplistic technique.
Let’s talk about taking a break from paintball.
Nearly every professional athlete isn’t a professional athlete 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Just as important as training is the time athletes take off to rest, relax, and recover – mentally and physically. While that off-season break can look different for different people, it nearly always involves a few days or weeks completely off from the sport after their last big event. It is usually a mini vacation, some time doing other activities they are interested in and a lot of catching up on… well…. life.
Dr. Doug Graham, who coaches elite track and field athletes and who founded FoodnSport says, “If you train year-round in your sport, you don’t do as well as if you take two to six weeks off.” I agree with his assessment. Countless times the guys/team comes back after a few weekends off rip roaring ready to go. They missed their boys, they missed that mission, and they missed that adrenaline that is our sport.
Most professional athletes – from the up-and-comers to the seasoned veterans – use a few weeks to do everything they don’t during the season: they don’t worry about what they are eating, they aren’t wigging out about their schedule or their training. They catch up on errands, spend a lot of time on the couch, and pig out a little. They see family and friends and do things they don’t necessarily get to do during the regular season. And why not??? How many of you LIVE for paintball? If you do, you’re doing it wrong.
A little relaxation at the range
Now this doesn’t mean you throw your regimen out the window completely. You don’t start smoking cigarettes, getting trashed, eating fast food every day or stop physical activity altogether. Toxic is toxic according to Graham and I certainly agree with him on this as well. He says, “It’s not a treat to abuse yourself even a little.”
If I had to sum it up, it’s the time to mix it up a little. Spend some time with the girlfriend, go see your mother and tell her you love her, eat some pizza or chocolate, catch up on those movies you missed, have one of those micro brews you’ve been meaning to try, travel, hit the beach, whatever…
However, just in case you were thinking of getting straight back into training for next year, here is some reasoning on why you should probably take a few weeks of active recovery and definitely take a break.
The Physiological Aspect:
The end of season break allows for the body to fully repair any tissue damage. Granted, body fat levels may increase but it will also allow your stores of essential vitamins and minerals to be restored. And your immune system usually needs it too. Your immune system has to work overtime if you are constantly training. Giving it a break gives it a chance to fully recover and reduce your risk of illness throughout the winter.
Something I am constantly aware of is recurring injuries. By resting and following a rehab program for a recurring injury, you decrease the chance of… you guessed it…the injury happening again. Use the time off from training to get a proper diagnosis and the correct treatment. An extra couple of weeks off at this time of year will not effect next year’s performance but not treating an injury correctly certainly will.
Down time on the couch with my son
The Psychological Aspect:
The end of season break, especially this particular off season, has helped me see some really important qualities that I miss during the regular season. Before I can be Mike Bianca, member of Prime, I have to be Mike Bianca, husband, father, son and friend. This season I have spent some quality time with my wife, children, friends, and family. It has been AWESOME! They have helped me recover from this past season which saw a lot of undue stress and its fair share of issues and problems with the program. I have not stepped on the Prime field since our tryouts back in November and it has been incredible. I stepped out on the field for the first time yesterday (December 13th) and I noticed something almost right away. I really enjoyed being there… I wanted to be there! And my game was anything but stale. As a matter of fact, someone said, “Whoa! You looked like a 25 year old out there!” (Take that Grayson… lol… kidding brother! But not really…) I am going to take a few more weekends off for the holidays and then hit it hard in January. My batteries should be fully charged by then. I am going to use that time to constructively review the previous season and identify strengths and weaknesses for myself and the team. I will more than likely set a goal for myself and hopefully for the team. I will get a certain nagging injury further under control and finally, get ready and plan for my in depth training.
Serenading the wife… romantic, I know
This post has proven to be much longer than I anticipated. If you are still reading, here is my suggestions/recommendations for those of you who feel taking a small break will do you some good:
– Train when you feel like it
– No high intensity work outs
– At least two rest days per week if you do train
– Try to avoid running.
– Maximum 30 minutes per session
Remember the goals; Recover from injury, recharge the batteries, analyze performances from this past season, set goals for next season, but most importantly…enjoy life man!
Be water my friends,