Recently, I was able to get out on the paintball field with friends for several hours of recreational fun. Here’s what I absolutely love about weekends like this besides the fact I get to play; there is no expectation save one – have a good time. I get to cut up with my friends and play ball. It always reminds me of why I started playing this sport in the first place. The sheer fun and joy one finds playing paintball with your friends. Sure, the competitiveness and excitement of the sport were aspects that drew me to the game but the comradery within those aspects is what has ultimately kept me in the game. Us against them and no matter what happens, we would still win out because, well… we were us and they were them.
I wasn’t there to coach, teach, help (this always happens anyway), or scout new talent (although I do keep an eye on certain players development and take notice of newer players who show promise), run a practice, learn a layout, or drill. Nope, I was there to have fun with my friends. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing all those things. And it doesn’t mean if I am asked for help that I won’t. As a matter of fact, I am happy to do so. I am opinionated after all (and that’s all it is, my opinion – my personal view on something). But something my friends constantly rag me about is this; when I am at the field where the goal is to play and have fun, I need to focus on THAT. Unfortunately, I can’t help myself sometimes when I see something that could help someone improve. I want to help. This is not ego. This is genuine interest in helping those who enjoy the game get better at it.
This weekend was more of the same I’m afraid. I sincerely tried to stay mission focused which was having fun. But I did find myself helping on a few fronts. However, I still had a great time!
Interestingly enough, my friends and I chose to have fun during a layout weekend for the upcoming SPL (Social Paintball League). A few teams had shown up to run points in preparation for the event happening the 9th and 10th of April at Big Indian Paintball in Perry Georgia (this past weekend at the time of this writing).
*Zen note – Big shout out to the two teams who were at this practice and focused on the event. My boys on I-75 and Dangerous Toys. The I75 crew won their division in both 3 man and 5 man and the Dangerous Toys placed both 2nd and 3rd in the D6 3 man division!
Our plan was simple. Step out on the field and play against competitive teams even though we hadn’t played together much at all in the last few years. We told ourselves, nothing matters, go forward, attack! and have fun. And we did. It was a blast and we laughed a lot.
But, as usual, I noticed some things and felt inspired to comment on them this month. Three things actually:
- Pace – team practices that involve more than two teams are always a little screwy because different teams (hopefully) have set different goals or have different ways of approaching scrimmages. One thing that shouldn’t be different is the pace. Practices that involve multiple teams should be organized prior to the first point run. Establish or agree to a rotation or system that will get everyone playing time. Have someone or a couple of people in charge of keeping the games/points moving. This person (people) needs to understand clock management and be familiar with or have a contact he can communicate with for each team. The point is to get as many points and looks in as humanly possible. Have a game plan, show up prepared with what you want to accomplish, preload paint, get paint and air after every point, and be ready on the box when called.
Now, there are several subsets about pace we can go into here. Especially dependent on the amount of teams present. Three teams is easy… even four. Practices with more than that can be a cluster but not totally unmanageable. All in all, have a steady pace. 3-5 minutes between points is good. Anything greater than that is boarding on unacceptable.
- After point discussion – What is the purpose of scrimmaging teams at a layout practice? If you said to learn the field, you are only partially correct (about a 1/3rd correct actually). But I digress. After you play a point, we need to ask ourselves a few questions:
What did we do well?
What did we do poorly/what could we improve?
What did we learn?
How do we remedy?
If you are not having these discussions (or something to this extent) and having them efficiently then you’re missing the whole point of the practice. If all you’re asking is did anyone see the move you made or how you “blasted that fool”, you’re wasting valuable time and energy. Come together as a team or under the coach and have a discussion about what happened and why and then understand what you will try to accomplish with the next point.
- Learning the field – this technically is part of number 2 above. If at the end of the day, there is a player that still doesn’t have an understanding or confidence on how to approach certain in-game scenarios, you have wasted your time (or need to consider some other options surrounding that player). The point is to see situations, scenarios, and the like and to understand what needs to happen when you see them at the event. A road map to success so to speak. By the end of practice, players should have a relatively good understanding of how the field plays and what obstacles they will face at the event.
I am often amazed when I watch a player face the same situation time and time again on the field and they continue to make the same mistake. I actually did this during my time on the field at the recent rec day I was speaking about at the beginning of this blog… I got caught by a blind shot… twice. After that second time, I didn’t get caught again… as a matter of fact, I used that aspect to my advantage.
The point of all this is simple – manage your time effectively at practice. Not everyone has access to a private field or a closed practice. If you find yourself at a layout practice the weekend before the event with a bunch of teams, have a plan and insist on efficiency. Get your reps. You will be glad you did (usually).
Be water my friends.