Why ask why?

After a couple of clinics I did recently as well as watching/participating in a few practices prior to this past weekend’s Dallas NXL, I became inspired. I’ve had four different topics mulling around in my head lately and was trying to figure out which one I wanted to tackle first when my youngest son made the decision for me.

It started out simple enough. “Why Dad?” Because of this son. “Why that Dad?” Well, because of this son. “But why is that, Dad?” On and on it went until he was satisfied he understood. See, my son, as do most children, play a type of “Language game” when learning. It helps them discover cause and effect…. It was this interaction that helped me realize what we would discuss this month. The question “Why?” obviously sticks with us into adulthood. We always want to understand why. In order to know the answer to why we have to start with the cause and ultimately the effect of the question. Ah, see where we are going here? Figured you might…

The kid who started this whole thing. Why aren’t we pirates Dad?


Now, this month’s topic may not be one for players who have been in the game for some time. However, it never hurts to have a refresher. One of the most difficult things to do as a coach, captain, or even blogger is to communicate on levels that everyone can understand. So let’s see if we can do that.

Field walking/game planning is probably one of, if not the most, common inquiry I get. How should we approach this layout? Well, that depends on your assets, your strengths, your weaknesses… lots to unfold there. Perhaps the easiest way to unpack this is simply asking the question why and then looking at cause and effect during practice/implementation.

“If everything isn’t black and white, I say, ‘Why the hell not?’”- John Wayne

Causality (or Causation, whichever you prefer) is a simple way to approach your field walk, your break out, and your game planning. Causality is simply that which connects one process (cause) with another (effect) where the first portion is understood to be responsible for the second portion of the equation.

This is the basis for all problem solving, yes? Okay, so let’s apply it in simple terms regarding walking a field. As we walk the field, we identify bunkers on a number of levels. What can we see from this bunker and in return, what can see us? Based off the visual acuity or lack thereof, what can we accomplish from this bunker? Who can we eliminate from this position, who can we protect from our team from here, can we stop our opponent’s progress from here, do we have a blind shot somewhere, or perhaps a bounce shot? In other words, why would we want to be here?

Why aren’t they conceding the point?


These initial questions lead us to develop a broad “roadmap” of opportunities/possibilities. But it doesn’t stop there. To really understand the “big picture”, now we take it to the next level.

“Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.” – George Carlin

If we don’t ask why at this point, we are robbing ourselves of additional (and valuable) information. Anytime we have an opportunity to examine why a certain thing is, it paints a clearer path. Especially in paintball. How many times have you heard the comparison between paintball and other sports? (No, I’m not jumping the shark here. Bear with me). Whereas there are certainly some comparisons and analogies that make sense, there is one thing we need to remember (besides the fact, in those sports, there is only one ball…) and that is, in the majority of sports, you can see your opponent 99.9% of the time. Football, Basketball, soccer, baseball… not the case in paintball. So how does this change the way we play? I can tell you it certainly changes the way we plan.

So let’s jump back to understanding what is possible from each bunker and why. Let’s use an example of what it might look and sound like. Let’s say we know the snake corner can stop progress down the snake as well as wrap on key bunkers that my opponents will use to feed the snake. It is also protected from the D side opponents on cross field shots until they make it onto our side of the field. This position should also allow me to protect my snake player. So the question becomes, in the context of the breakout, the play/goal of the point, etc. Why do I want to be here? Now go back to the examples I gave above. Obviously I can contain from this bunker, I can defend from the bunker, I can protect from this bunker, maybe even attack from this bunker, and survive in this bunker.

Why does it always rain in Dallas?  Why is my lid open?


Do I need to be here on the break? Why?

See how this works?

So let’s put it into a very basic outline form:

  1. What are the “zones of progress” (quickest and easiest ways to get down the field)
    1. Why are they the quickest?
      1. Why do we want to control these zones?
  2. What are some of the key bunkers to start from (bread and butter)?
    1. Why?
      1. Why do we want to be here?
  3. What are the lanes on the break?
    1. Why would this be the best lane?
  4. What are the shots from the D side?
    1. Why is this the first shot we would take or the second?
  5. What are the shots from the snake side?
    1. Why are these the shots we should study?
  6. What are the shots from the center?
    1. Why?
  7. What are key bunkers to win from?
    1. Why?
      1. Close out? Why?
  8. What is our goal of each point?
    1. Why?
      1. Where is our push coming from?
        1. Why?
  9. Is the clock our friend or enemy?
    1. Why?
  10. What are our opponent’s strengths/weaknesses?
    1. Why?
Why do we stretch?  You better already know the answer to that one…


You get the picture. The next question after the last outline question would be, “How do we exploit them?”

Effective questioning, causality, whatever you want to call it, it isn’t rocket science but it does take three dimensional thinking to understand. Some of heard me mention this numerous times. It simply means the ability to track a scenario from its past to its future. We process the data we have on the field and based off our “why” questions, we can quickly access the answer (processing speed).

Is any of this making sense? Let me know.


Be water my friends.

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