“Nothing is impossible in this world. Firm determination, it is said, can move heaven and earth. Things appear far beyond one’s power, because one cannot set his heart on any arduous project due to want of strong will.” – Yamamoto Tsunetomo
“The difference between men is in energy, in the strong will, in the settled purpose and in the invincible determination.” – Vince Lombardi
Imagine if Lombardi had a team full of samurai minds in the bodies of his players… whoa….Green Bay Packers would have had a whole new meaning… like, Green Bay Death Squad.
The next season of competitive paintball is almost upon us. Every paintball player is out there preparing themselves for the “grind” and teams are hastily polishing their game. Because of this, I thought we would visit the topic of “preparation” in this month’s blog post. I wrote on this topic a while ago about the “mental aspect” of the game itself. But it is so much more than that.
I am an avid protagonist of being prepared especially when it involves competition. And I’m not just talking about physically. Sure, we drill, we scrimmage, we train… but are we truly prepared in both mind, body, and spirit?
I don’t think most paintballers are fully aware of what a good preparation is made up of. There are many levels of preparation and they must ALL be built upon. Confidence is built when we know we are physically fit, that we are healthy, and that we know we have put in the time to develop the skill sets required to be effective. But what all does that entail? Besides the obvious of being in shape for the season, getting good sleep, eating right, putting in the work… what are some things we may miss? Besides the immediate short term goals, what about the long term ones?
Players and coaches will always be more effective when they are more efficient. Anytime you can remove unnecessary stresses you are more apt to create efficiencies. Translation – better use of time leads to greater gain. For instance, I like to have all the logistics locked down well in advance of an event. I like to know every aspect of logistics prior to the first practice. When is everyone arriving, how they are arriving, where are we staying, how far is it from the venue, is their local grocery stores nearby, what are our routes to and from the venue, do we have the vehicles necessary, what is everyone’s cost, etc. If the coach and the team have these SIMPLE things addressed well in advance, it is one less thing you need to worry/concern/think about in your preparation. That time can now be spent on what matters. Distractions suck and will hinder your mental preparation which is every bit as important as your physical preparations. Mental preparation is simply preparing the mind to achieve success or rather, it is training the mind for a successful performance. So why place barriers in our own way? Waiting until the last moment to book a hotel, a flight, rent a car, wondering where people are, etc. is foolish. These are things that are easily in your control. To procrastinate is to place an undue stress. And that isn’t very smart. I would argue you need to reassess your leadership criteria.
How about when we are injured, hurt, upset about our playing, the team’s overall performance, etc.? How can we prepare ourselves for that? How can we be mentally tough when it matters most? How can we create drive and dedication in ourselves as well as our teammates? We do this by teaching ourselves how to maximize the abilities we possess and meeting each goal we set, one after the other.
The mental demands of competition can be enormous, especially in the world of paintball. We aren’t getting paid to do this (not most of us anyway) and we probably have other issues in the background/foreground such as job, family, significant other, etc. So, the mental aspect has to be part of your training. I don’t think the basketball coach of the Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson realized how significant his words would translate to paintballers when he said, “Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.” All the markers are the same yes? And the field is mirrored, yes? There are a lot of equals out on that field actually. Ask any champion of any sport or business and they will more than likely tell you that proper mental preparation is the key to any performance.
See, those same people who regularly train their minds will almost always be more consistent. And consistency leads to victory. And you want to know what else? Victory leads to enjoyment. Who doesn’t like winning? Once you taste it, you want it again. I seriously doubt you will ever meet a champion, a true champion, who is complacent.
Let’s break it down a bit. Normally, as people progress in their chosen sport and you reach the higher levels (professional?), the physical aspect has a tendency to “equal out”. It’s the consistency, the mental aspect, the decision making (remember talking about our paintball processors?) that differentiates the players/teams. I think having a superior mindset is the key advantage here.
Ask yourself if you and your team have these traits:
- Focus on the goal – what needs to happen to win
- Intestinal fortitude – drawing on reserves of strength when things are tough while maintain positivity
- Confidence – belief in yourself and your abilities and those of your teammates
- Motivation – the drive to improve, to be better than your last; no ego
If you can check each and every one of those off, you are good to go. But you also have to be honest with yourself. Don’t rationalize. It’s okay to recognize the fact you and your team may not have all of these traits. When you are honest and recognize it, now you know what needs to CHANGE.
In order to fine tune ones game, you must approach this from a mental and even an emotional aspect. You have to manage your expectations and realize change doesn’t happen overnight. You must recognize from the genesis that it will be hard work and a long haul. There will be ups and downs. It is what we do with the ups AND the downs that will define our success. Manage those expectations appropriately and you will see levels of success.
The way you mentally prepare for paintball, whether it is practice or an event, will either hold you back or launch you forward. Master your approach… don’t let it master you. If you cannot accomplish this, then you have already lost. It may not be shown on the scoreboard or immediately, but it is coming. (That was my best impersonation of samurai writing…)
Just like playing an X-ball match, you have to have a game plan, whether it is logistics for an event, how to practice, what to practice, or even where will the team go to eat, know what needs to happen! Learn from your wins as well as your losses. What did we do right, what did we do wrong, what did THEY do right and wrong? Learn from them too! Be mentally prepared for the next time you meet them on the field!
All of this was to say, “Be efficient, be smart, be prepared, and know yourself”. Don’t create problems by not addressing the little things. It’s okay to over plan but don’t become a slave to it either. Are you prepared? Are you ready? Are you mentally focused? Good. Do it some more…
Be water my friends.