What About the Twinkie?

Twinkie
Telling people about the twinkie.  Don’t own this photo but love the movie

The creator of “gonzo” journalism, Hunter Thompson, once said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” I agree with the sentiment.  Then there are those who say that, every once in a while, it’s worth going back to the basics. Don’t know who originally said that, don’t care.  The latter, when applied to paintball, is simply false.  It shouldn’t be every once in a while.  It should be all the time.  Teams would almost certainly see greater levels of success with just a little bit more effort in the basics of paintball and the practice arena… especially if they know how to practice appropriately.

I will ask a team, “What and how do you practice?” or “What does a normal practice for your team consist of?”  It’s a simple question.  The answers I get, as you can imagine, are diverse.  Some teams practice to their strengths in order to ensure they remain strengths while others practice their weaknesses in order to shore them up.  Whereas they are practicing and looking to improve, I find many are simply going through the motions.  “A pro said to do this so we need to do this or a good team we talked to does this so we should do it”.  Now, those statements may seem self-deprecating, especially to a guy who writes a blog to help people in paintball.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t do those things, whatever they are.  What I AM saying is you need to understand WHY you are doing those things and HOW to do them correctly.

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Practice not to get shot… seriously

What I see often at these practices or clinics is a lack of accountability and execution.  This can be due to a misunderstanding of the how and why or simply a lack of quality leadership. I learned a while ago that there are two big obstacles to running a successful program (winning). They are a lack of an appropriate practice routine and a lack of clarity at the leadership level. It’s not surprising that the teams that lacked a clear direction at the leadership level don’t see success frequently.   Look at it this way, if you think of your team as an airplane leading you to the promised land, then you can’t have 10 different pilots trying to fly the aircraft and shouting out different directions, at least not if you want to end up at your intended destination.  Logical, right?  Communication between teammates and leadership plays a heavy role as well.  You have to be open and honest with each other.  But I am getting off topic.

Let’s take one of the most basic tenants of paintball and break it down: field walking.

Some of you reading this may recall a time when you didn’t see the field layout until you arrived at the event.  This made walking the field, identifying key bunkers, how it would play out, and understanding how to play it an indispensable skill set.  Especially if you had to walk 10 fields… okay, just dated myself.  All good.  Moving on…

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Lanes aren’t just for on the break.  Holding gaps is just as important

If you don’t get practice doing a field walk, you can watch a plethora of field walking videos on youtube.  Most of these vids will take a straightforward approach to the field and that is a good thing.  It will give you an idea of what basic necessities you will need to look for.  Some not so much but take in as much as you can.  You will notice patterns and consistencies which will make sense.  Some may not… ask why.

That being said, some of you have heard me say that you are thinking 2-dimensionally and that we need to be thinking 3-dimensionally.  Ask yourself, when you see something i.e. a bunker on a field, your brain “sees” that it is a 3 dimensional object.  You know that the other side of the bunker and the things behind it exist, you just can’t see them through the bunker.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t there, right?  However, we THINK about it 2 dimensionally.  We don’t think past what we see.  We see we are in the bunker but we struggle to see what we know is on the other side in our minds eye.  Make sense?  There is a reason I am bringing this up.

Without constantly studying this yourself, it is hard to understand and create the process in our minds of how to walk a field appropriately much less process data in our mind during a live game.  Here is the basic premise in a nutshell.  If you are going to spend time learning the execution aspect of a play or game plan on a layout, then you should spend just as much time understanding the development process.

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Walking a field is vital.  Make sure you understand it in context of the whole field

What I am trying to highlight here is that you need a common, clearly defined process in which you can use to develop game plans consistently.  In order to operate at a higher level in our sport, we much adapt our thought processes.   It goes without saying that this is accomplished through hard work and dedication to the learning path.

Which brings me back to my original point, if you’re going to take the time to develop a plan… do it right. The way to do it right is to understand why we are doing what we are doing and create a process that is simple yet effective.  Here’s how I like to do it (something I learned from Coach Paul Richards, easily one of the greatest minds in paintball and the man who taught me how to simplify on the paintball field (miss you Top).

Identify specific bunker types.  Is it an “attack” bunker?  Is it a “support” bunker?  Is it a “containment” bunker?  Is it a defensive or “Alamo” bunker?

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Know your shots

In other words, understand what a player can accomplish from that specific bunker and know this for every one of the bunkers on the field.  Once you have identified what a player can accomplish from each bunker, now you have a way to identify fluid and effective game planning.  “If I have a guy here, her can accomplish this.  However, I can double the chances of that player succeeding in what he is trying to accomplish by making sure that we get a guy into THIS bunker as well.”  So on and so forth.  Making sense?

But don’t get limited to looking at it 2 dimensionally.  Don’t just look at it from the D side or from the snake side.  Look at it 3 dimensionally and in full context.

Get it? Got it? Good.

Now go forth and walketh thy field..eths….

Be water my friends,

Bianca

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