Testing…testing…is this thing on?

Ah, World Cup.  This event is the end all be all, the big show, the culmination, the pinnacle, no, dare I say… the epitome of the competitive NXL season!  The feelings of excitement for first timers, the energy one feels when they actually step foot on the grounds of the event.  None of this can be ignored.  I’ll never forget the debut of “Push” in 1999.  That set the stage for me.  There is no other feeling like standing there with your teammates, holding the cup, knowing  your team are the best in the World that day.  Trust me, I’ve talked to people who have experienced it… lol… sigh…

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2nd place…. again.

As can be expected this time of year, there will be several articles, blogs, and videos explaining to you the best way to approach a field.  There will be pros telling you how they see the field playing, how they will approach it, where to lane, why, etc.  And it is precisely why this blog will not be about any of that.

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After the big show

Instead, I want to discuss something many people overlook.  Something you should keep in mind during your World Cup preparation.

We have examined communication on and off the paintball field on several occasions and most people (including myself) discuss effective communication as a whole.  But sometimes, it needs to be broken down regarding who is communicating to who and why.  Let’s confer about some of the things effective players in specific positions should do when communicating to their fellow players.

Again, for convenience, let’s define what effective communication is.  Effective communication is the process of sharing information between two or more people which should ultimately lead to a specific outcome. With effective communication, information is shared and received efficiently without any misunderstanding or distortion.  In other words, what was meant to be understood by the sender is understood by the receiver.  Again, effective communication includes not just the sender but the receiver… so effective listening is an important part of the equation.  In paintball, and for the sake of this blog’s intent, we will deal with verbal communication and attentive listening only.

Effective and efficient communication is necessary to succeed on the paintball field.   When we say efficient, we want to share the greatest amount of data in the quickest manner possible.  This is where codes come in.  But that isn’t the subject of this article.  Codes are certainly important.  Bunker names, codes for protecting players, codes meaning a player is about to go do something , kill count, down count;  are all integral to success on the field.  But I am talking about having a conversation.  If a 3 (usually a back player of some sort) can have a comfortable conversation with his 2 (mid) or his 1 (front), then things will usually go well.

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If you are able to speak with your teammates during a game where the communication is consistent and unhindered, especially if projection is used, then, in a perfect world, the data is flowing and everyone knows what is going on with their opponent as well as their teammates.  There is no such thing as too much communication.

Being an effective communicator requires a skillset that isn’t easily obtained.  Recognizing the fast changes in a paintball game, quickly communicating them, while relaying what needs to happen based off the new data, well… having a firm foundation in this ability would put you and your team light years ahead of most competitive teams.

As a 2/3 player, I like to ask questions.  No, not the “whatcha got?” variety question because I was too busy not paying attention on the break … effective questioning.

Let’s create a scenario.  You and George (your fictional teammate) are the 1 and 2 on the D side of the field.  You guys have just survived the break and eliminated an opponent from dorito 1.   You know another player is in a D side Aztec.  You hear snake 1 and snake corner from your teammates on the other side of the field.  No one knows where the 5th body is.  You check in and you see you lost a player on your snake side.  How do you think that conversation would go?

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After you communicate the kill to your front player and your snake side teammates, the conversation could start like this: “Yo George (use first names, gets their attention quicker)!  Kill one from D1, we lost Patrick.  There’s a D side Aztec, snake 1 and snake corner (I’m sure you would have bunker codes).  Don’t know where the other body is.  Caution the wall.  What do you need?”

This is how a 2 or 3 may communicate with a 1.  They give the data they have and make sure their teammate hears it.  Then they ask for feedback.  Effective communication is only effective if it flows freely and in a continuous loop between teammates.   And this is where things can go wrong.  A miscommunication or inaccurate data will create consequences (not all bad but it certainly isn’t always good).

My point is the 2 or 3 should communicate what he knows and then ask what he can do to improve the current situation.  Sometimes, it is his job to joystick the 1.  “George! Go now!  I have Aztec contained”.  But sometimes that 1 will know things you don’t. “Snake one is shooting cross”.  Now how do you think the conversation may go?

“Shoot the Aztec and I will see what I can do with snake.  You got him?”

“I’m on him.”

After putting your stream of paint on snake player, it pushes him in creating an opening.

“George, I’ve got snake in.  Check off the wall and go!”

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Okay, real basic example of how this might play out.  But let’s get back to the 1 now.

The 1 usually has a different approach/goal.  He wants to get up the field without too much threat to his own hide.  Failure to effectively communicate his needs will usually result in his demise or that of someone else on his team.  1’s need to be effective communicators  too.   Too many players believe that it is their job to be talked to… not with.  When they are fed data from a 2 or 3, they need to do two things if possible.  First, they need to acknowledge the data they received and then, if possible, complement that data with data of their own.

2/3 player – “Down one, kill one George! D side Aztec, snake corner, snake one, caution the wall.”

George, the 1 – “Down one, kill one, Aztec, snake corner, snake one, caution wall.  You on the Aztec?”

2/3 player –“Yeah”

George, the 1, now shooting at the Aztec  too – “I have the Aztec, put paint on the snake. Have Gary (who doesn’t know a Gary?) shoot the bounce on the wall”

2/3 player – “I’m on the snake!  Gary!   Shoot the bounce!”

1’s can joystick the field too.

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Of course, all of this hinges on effective communication across the field too.  Most teams are good at communicating with their side of the field.   Two guys on the D side usually don’t have a problem talking to each other.  Same with the snake side players.  You see this a lot in divisional play.  But teams that have these conversations across the field?  They are usually dominating.

The point is, you can usually avoid damage to the game plan with effective conversation and/or you can repair damage to the game plan with effective conversation.   You will also increase your success rate.

Remember, effective team work begins and ends with good communication.  Go make it happen.

And best of luck to everyone competing at World Cup this year.
Be water, my friends!

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