Smells like rain…

The 2019 Dallas Open NXL is in the books.  And once again, the Dallas event had its share of adverse conditions although not on the level that most had anticipated (perceptions ranging from inconvenient to apocalyptic).  I personally felt the event turned out much better than expected and could have been a lot worse (Think Galveston Hurricane or Chicago Tornadoes).  I will go on record as saying that I like the Texas Motor Speedway venue (both Whataburger and In&Out were packed plus you have a Buc-ee’s right there).  However, it may make sense to move the event to later in the year.  I say this only because, a simple google search will show that Texas’s wettest month is, in fact, May.  To those of you who will then say, “But then it will be too hot!”

Pit row day before event start (Thursday)

Shut up.  Hydrate correctly and play ball.

Dadnabbit… did it again.  Let’s get back to this month’s blog topic…  The conditions of the venue got me thinking about how teams respond and address this very thing.  As a whole, we prepare for events by studying the layout and developing ways to play it effectively.  But what happens when plans become compromised by “adverse conditions”?  How do we conquer things we did not anticipate?

I decided for this month’s blog, I would start by just looking up the term itself – “Adverse Conditions”.

Adverse, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, is:

  • acting against or in a contrary direction
  • opposed to one’s interests
  • causing harm

Condition(s), according to several definitions of the word, in this case, the most appropriate to our topic:

  • a state of being

What I came away with is this – “Conditions that make it difficult for something to be or happen”.

There we go… a baseline…let’s start there.

Not just mud… sticky mud

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” – George S. Patton

How should a team address “adverse conditions” when they arrive at an event?  Most people would say with preparation, of course.  If you know it is going to rain, you bring your visor, a clear lens, extra towels/microfibers, plastic bags, etc. We’ve all played in the rain before.  At least, I hope most of you have and understand there are certain necessities to this.  If not, make a comment and we will make it a topic of a future blog.

But what about issues you couldn’t possibly prepare for?

During the Dallas event, certain players or positions may have found themselves hindered by mud. You may have even found your plans disrupted by the solution to the mud… mulch, which anyone knows that if you dive into it, you have a real good chance of stopping quite abruptly.  So, dashed plans and potential injuries have now become a constant concern.  There is a good chance your team was used to running far or using a pocket play or what have you.  But you get to the start box and realize the mud will most certainly be an issue with getting a good jump start.  Or maybe the start box was fine but the center or tapes were mud pits that would cause over-sliding?  Or maybe they put mulch right where you want to dive to enter the snake or dorito? You suddenly realize you may not be able to play the field the way you prepared for it.  How do you prepare for that?

home mud
This could get messy…

Preparing to play the field

The most practical approach to any field is developing plays based off specific scenarios.  I almost always develop a “bread and butter” play.  This is the base play that my team will use most often.  It usually provides a higher statistical success rate by putting us in good position with primaries (our first bunker of choice off the break) and allowing specific goals to be met early.

Then I like to play the “what if” game.

Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.” – Dennis Waitley

Let me give you an example.  Not too long ago, the south saw a rather horrendous snowstorm (for the south).  I was at work and lived about 10 miles from there.  Everyone was being told stay in place, don’t travel.  Being the stubborn man I am, I chanced it and made it home safely.  It took two hours but I ended up with my family as the south dug out of a 3 day freeze.  Here’s the thing… what if I hadn’t made it and got stuck or wrecked?

Now, I’m no boy scout (is there such a thing anymore or is it the he/she/we have no identity politically correct hand out trophies to everyone snowflake brigade these days? I don’t recall… oh well), but I believe in preparing for the unforeseen.  I had placed in my car the night before non-perishable food items (granola bars, beef jerky, water), a thermal blanket, flashlight, a lighter, matches, some laundry lint in zip lock bags, a change of clothes including extra socks, a pair of boots, and extra layers.  And before anyone asks, yes, I had a firearm with extra magazines and ammo.  I had no idea the storm would be as bad as it was.  I had no idea I would get stuck.  I had no idea of any of it.  But I thought ahead… I played the “what if” game.


Doesn’t matter. Get it done.

What if our opponent plays the layout in a way we didn’t think of?  What if they have great guns off the break and they are chopping us up consistently on the break?  Or perhaps they are taking more ground than us on the break and getting into position earlier or faster?  So on and so forth.  What do you do?

Hopefully, you played the “what if game” before you got to the event.

I realize I have oversimplified this concept. But you get the basic principle.  And that same principle applies to adverse conditions.

The field my team was competing on in the prelims during Dallas had its share of these conditions.  One side of the field had different issues than the other.  So we made note of it and developed our plays and breakouts around those conditions.  I was able to do this based off prepping for a completely different condition (good guns on the break, teams taking ground, etc.)  Does that make sense?

Photo Courtesy of Dane Hawkins Photography

We played the West side of the field (the one in front of our pits) differently from the East side of the pits.  I also relied on data from my players who were actually IN it to let me know what they felt their capabilities were.  Notice how I also mentioned east and west… this meant we were actually dealing with the sun (yes, the sun was in Dallas/Ft Worth) so I also took this into account.

“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” – Confucius

The whole point of this particular blog post is this.  You CAN prepare for the unknown.  Adaptation – the action or process of change to better suite an environment or condition – is the basis and lifeblood of any good paintball team.  Adapt or die.  Understand that adaptation is incredibly important to paintball teams.

Dane Hawkins Photography

Now, to shift gears just a bit… I was reading some more sports psychology this past week (at home sick … I had time).  And I decided to look up anything that dealt with performing in the rain.  I didn’t find anything… but I did find an interesting article that I want to share the basis of with you all.

One thing we have talked about at length here at Zen is the mind… having the appropriate attitude and better understanding of one’s capabilities through truth.  It has often been joked that I am “toxic masculinity” with certain thoughts and perceptions I have.  I am “outdated”.  Without getting too political, which I admit, I may have already done… I will say that I neither prescribe to nor acknowledge what I believe to be the weak willed and irrational perspectives being taught to our young men and women in today’s society regarding what is “normal” or “socially acceptable”.

That being said, I do want to point something out that came to my attention recently regarding a young man I know.  Dealing with certain issues mentally can be challenging and is becoming more and more common in many of the paintball players I meet. Besides the obvious topic we discussed above in relation to a player’s perception to the conditions (How are we gonna deal with this coach?), there can be heavier or greater issues being faced by players. Here is the basis of what I read:

R.A.I.N.  (Bob Stahl, Ph.D. -February, 2010).

“R” – Recognize.

“A” – Allow or Acknowledge that it is indeed there.

“I” – investigate and bring self-inquiry to the body, feelings, and mind.

“N” – is to non-identify with what’s there.

Besides this one particular young man, it got me thinking about some of the other young men I have coached over the years.  How do I recognize or hope to reach young men who may be struggling with depression or similar issues?  If I can’t recognize what they are dealing with or maybe I do but can’t at least point them in the appropriate direction, what good am I?  My instinct is to toughen them up.  But that isn’t a one size fits all solution.  I can’t beat it into them.  I find this R.A.I.N approach a useful tool for the toolbox.

He always keeps his promises.

The concept is that if we use R.A.I. N. as a practice (make it a standard approach), we develop a better understanding of what fuels or drives our fears, anger, or sadness.

I personally believe that acknowledging stress, anxiety or pain rather than suppressing it is advantageous.   I feel that we need to learn how to cope with and view all challenges as a rite of passage instead of running away from them or hoping someone will fix them for us. Adversity builds character.  Steel is forged in fire… not with long walks in the park and hot showers with lavender…gross.  Face the issue, embrace it, recognize it… and ask for help.

I apologize for detouring there… I always try to keep this light and fun.  Just felt it might need to be said or read by someone.  If you or someone you know is battling depression or going through a tough time, reach out.  Let them know they are not alone, just like you are not alone.

Anyway, like I said, I am under the weather so I am cutting this one short.

Godspeed and remember…

Be water my friends.

One thought on “Smells like rain…

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