This is the first of the Xball How-To posts so we'll see how it goes. Laning off the break is one of the core fundamentals of xball. Despite that factoid most of you suck at it. (You do, so don't bother to make excuses and please don't try to tell me you're really good but 10.5 bps is just too hard because I know suck when I see it. And you suck.) If there was only one thing you and your team could do to improve learning to lane would be number one on the list because of the potential to take control of a point in the first five seconds with effective laning.
What's even more amazing about the magnitude of your suckitude is that it ain't that hard to learn how to do both right and well. But it does take a lot of practice. This time we're gonna focus on three basic concepts and I will give you a drill or two for each concept. After that you're on your own because I ain't gonna hold your hand or pat you on the head and tell you what a swell job you did.
The concepts are; first ball, fast ball and team ball. These form the foundation of your future ability to successfully lane off the break. There's more but this will keep you busy for a while if you take it seriously.
First ball means that when you come off the net at the sound of the horn you have a specific lane to shoot and the goal is to put the first ball out of your barrel right where you want every other ball out of your gun to go. Too many laners are really hosers--just spraying their paint and aiming as they watch the stream--and that's just pitiful and an embarrassment to the game. The drill is to begin each rep in the pre-horn position and swing the gun into position as if it's the start of point every time you do the drill. Once in position you pull the trigger once. Watch the ball. If your lane is off adjust it and fire again, one time. Once your gun is in the proper position to put paint along your chosen lane take note of your posture, the elevation of the barrel, etc. Then do it again and again until you can duplicate each and every time firing a single paintball.
Fast ball means the quicker your gun is in firing position the sooner the first ball will arrive on target and the more laning options you will have. Too slow to get the up and firing means your only real shot at an effective lane is to shoot wide. There are two elements to fast ball shooting; looking down your lane and moving the gun barrel vertically and not laterally. Fast ball uses the same basic drill as first ball but incorporates the new element of speed. (You must do first ball drilling first as well.) From the pre-horn position you must be looking where you want your lane to go and my preference is for the gun to be down and back (this means the hopper is almost upside down) so that on the horn the barrel is swept up in a vertical motion. Done this way the gun moves on only a single axis, making it faster and more accurate as the barrel sweeps up almost automatically to where your eyes are already looking. (The downside is it often seems a bit awkward to players used to sweeping their guns up and across.)
While the first two elements can be practiced individually team ball requires a team. The object here is to go through the breakout motions of coming off the net at the sound of the horn and accomplishing your first ball and fast ball technique so as not to interfere with a teammate or be interfered with. It is also worthwhile to extend the drill to include laning positions for when there are two or more players at home immediately off the break.
Those are the rudiments for learning how to be a killer off the break. We'll take the next steps next time.