So the off season is over (did it ever truly begin?). We are smack dab in the middle of prep for the upcoming competitive paintball season. Teams are taking stock in what they achieved last year, where they succeeded, where they fell short, what they have, and what they will need for the grind ahead. Or perhaps you’re a new team looking to make your mark this season and taking a shot at the title. Either way, lots to do. This month’s blog may seem a little remedial but then who doesn’t need a refresher course? Plus, this blog isn’t for just one group of players; it’s for all players and coaches alike. Also, for a quick refresh on some other thoughts concerning this process, check out these previous blog posts:
How many of you watch the off season moves in the professional division? You track the big move here, a surprise move there. It’s always fun to discuss and speculate on these things, what players and coaches at that level were thinking and why. There are a myriad of things that need to be looked at, assessed, and decided/acted upon. But divisional teams don’t necessarily have the capabilities or infrastructure to address all of them like the professional programs do. Running an efficient, organized, tight ship is not an easy task… especially when talking about paintball players (Paintballus absurdus)
One of the commonly misunderstood and poorly executed processes for teams can be try-outs. The common theme is, we will have try-outs, people will come, we will pick up some talent, and then we take the paintball world by storm! Oh, if it were only that easy.
Besides the plethora of variables that must be addressed before you even plan your try out, you need to have a goal – what’s the plan and why? What do we need in the effect of a pick-up(s)? What’s our existing depth, our existing strengths, where are we weak? What EXACTLY do we need? And once you determine what you need, what does your potential pool look like? Is there appropriate level talent in the area to choose from? Do we want someone that can hit the ground running at our level or are we looking to develop someone? Do we want someone local/regional? What parameters do you need to set?
Once you understand the parameters, then you can start planning:
- When do you hold a try out?
- Where do you hold it?
- Is it a one day or two day?
- Is it multiple weekends?
- How much paint should they expect to shoot?
- What layout will you use?
- Is the layout conducive to what we are looking for?
- And of course, what will we have them do in order to determine if they have what we are looking for.
First I think we need to determine a baseline of requirements. What are skillsets that most paintballers should possess? Gun fighting, laning, communication, survivability, field awareness, aggressiveness, speed, coachability… These are the things I look for and I use a point system usually to determine where they fall in each of these categories. Once all the points are tallied, it tells me where they fall regarding a division scale. Now… just because they may only mark a D4 rating on the scale, if their coachability among other things is high… perhaps there is an opportunity to develop them into a higher caliber player?
Ah – I see. You are waiting for me to post my point system. No, not this time, but I will help you with a few suggestions for your try out.
Gun fighting – you hear this term a lot in paintball, “he’s one of the best gunfighters in the division.” Okay – what does that mean? It usually means they are not only a good snap shooter but that they know how to use their bunker and have good timing and anticipation skills to boot. Any good ideas on what would be a good measure of this for a player at a try-out? You guessed it, snap shooting drills. Either king of the hill, what I call the “quadrant drill” or even just using a stationary target but know what to look for. Their base, gun placement, elbow, speed, accuracy, what “leads” (head, barrel, hopper, or are they all one piece when they snap?). You get the idea.
Laning – This is where we see what they can do on the break. Can they shoot an accurate lane with their first 5-7 paintballs? They can do this from the start box and/or the “pocket”? How consistent are they? Let’s go ahead and throw run and gunning in here too. Can he shoot a gap on the run accurately while moving quick and with purpose? This one is a no brainer. Set up a stationary target, make them snap off the box and put their first 5-7 at the target. How many times do they hit it?
You’re getting the picture, I’m sure.
So, after checking and identifying fundamental and individual skillsets, now you need to see what they can do in a team environment. This can be accomplished by running scenario drills or points.
I personally, like to “build” if I have the time. First, I’ll run some 2 v 2’s one side of the field only. This tests a microcosm of coms and teamwork – since a lot of times we are working in pairs on the field (perhaps a future topic? Let me know as I will gladly explain). After a few points seeing how they communicate, move, make reads, etc. we then graduate to 3v3 full field. This will now take into account field awareness, communication with more than one…
And finally, with time and personnel permitting, 5 v 5’s for the whole picture.
Now – do we make a decision after one or two days of watching a player? The answer is – “It depends.”
How familiar are you and the team already with this player? Do you know their financial stability? Will they be able to commit to your season and your requirements? Do they appear to fit in with your culture and other personalities on the team? Perhaps a call back is better suited then a yes or no answer? This is when you tell the player something along the lines of, “We like what we saw. We would like to see more…” Of course, don’t string the player along! Eventually, they either fit what you need or they don’t. So be sure to be professional and courteous about the whole process. Honesty is the best policy. If they aren’t what you are looking for, tell them. Let them know what you liked, give them positive feedback but explain why they aren’t what you are looking for. They will appreciate that much more than any other approach, I promise.
Okay – that’s enough for now. Feel free to direct message me on my FB page if you have any questions or thoughts on this one.