Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Baca's Mailbag

It seems like things are just puttering along and everyone is waiting for the next bit of entertaining or impossible gossip to come along--I mean it's not like anybody plays paintball anymore. And Greg Hastings is about to find out if anybody even plays game console paintball anymore and if our collective ennui has spread to our Playstations and Xboxes what hope remains for the future of paintball? Dressing up and playing soldiers? Oh, wait a sec--this wasn't another depressing rant, this was supposed to be a Baca's Mailbag (and I need questions, dammit!) How 'bout them Cowboys? Is everybody ready to agree that if you don't have a solid offensive line it almost doesn't matter how many high profile "weapons" and impact players you have? [That was a football segue for all the paintball dweebs--and you know who you are.]

The major league season is entering the home stretch with the NPPL, PSP and MS all having one event remaining in the 2010 season. And until the last couple of days everything was quiet, perhaps too quiet. As The Monday Poll hints there's been chatter amongst the pro teams about what happens next year but the state of pro paintball the last two or three years has also frequently meant one last shake-up as the season comes to a close and that time may be upon us. Coming off their best result of the year it appears there's uncertainty in the Aftermath camp as Mouse turns to the dark side and a roster spot with Dynasty. As mentioned yesterday it also appears Entourage will not be playing Vegas and there's whispers on the street they mightn't be the only one. And I, for one, am interested in the new paintball unleashed at Extravaganza. But that's not what the mailbag is about--this time. And in the meantime I'll put Mr. Curious to work and see what he can find out in the dark alleys and abandoned tenements of tourney paintball.

Today's first question is entirely too apropos: With several teams hanging on by a thread this season, what do you see as a sustainable number of Pro teams for next year?

I like the implication of "sustainable" as if pro teams were a green resource that required government to raise our taxes (some more) while strip-mining our rights. (Was that too political?) But in another sense that's really the problem, isn't it? The system was built on a sponsorship model that wasn't sustained. At this stage sustainability needs to reference two things; What's it cost and who can afford that cost? Is, or can, anything be done to reduce the costs involved? Lots of questions and not a lot of answers and instead of a thoughtful, safe answer I'm going to offer a prediction.
The PSP pro division will be 8 teams (tho the league will want to expand it to 10 which could mean some non-competitive filler.) Nonetheless, it will continue to be recognized as the preeminent pro division in competitive paintball. The NPPL will restructure or cease doing bidness. (No insider info, kids, just my best guess.) If it restructures it will be a predominantly west coast league featuring the remains of the NPPL pro division. Crossover between the leagues would amount to 1 or 2 teams at most. How's that for a prediction?

Going back to the [not so] recent Pro Paintball article that declared you as "the best coach in the game"... What exactly does it take to be the best? Also, can you name the more noteworthy other coaches of today and talk more about the role of a professional coach?

Longevity? While it makes for a terrific Facebook endorsement (and I appreciated the kind thoughts) it's even more subjective than trying to name the best player. Before anyone can talk about the best we's gonna need to define just what we mean by "coach." Since coach can be anybody from the Dad who drives everybody to the Saturday 3-man to the friend from another team sideline coaching "coach" covers a lot of territory. I think of coach in the traditional sports sense. More particularly I think of my role equating with that of a basketball coach. Half the job is teaching, making players better while turning them into a team. The other half is to provide the structure they play within and guide the play of the game in competition. In a lot of ways coaching in paintball, in any sense, is a fairly new idea (although there have always been players, owners, captains who have performed some or all of the coach's role) so there are a lot of variations of what coaching is out there.
Being a good coach requires knowledge of the game, an ability to communicate effectively, develop a relationship with your players, evaluate players strengths & weaknesses, instill confidence, prepare your team to compete effectively.
As for noteworthy current names discretion is the better part of valor but Bob Long is a legendary teacher for good reason and Shane Pestana of the Ironmen was an outstanding coach and game day leader.
Regarding the role of the professional competitive paintball coach I think it's still in flux in some respects. It's moving toward a consensus and toward a role as fully complex as established sports coaching but it isn't there yet. In part because the pro teams are struggling for resources, in part because some teams retain players/coaches/captains in the traditional roles and in part because there aren't a lot of people out there with the combination of knowledge, skills and free time to fill the job description.

What makes a tourney series successful nowadays? Is there even such a thing?

The second question first: Absolutely there is such a thing. I think the Vicious Series and WCPPL and others have proven to be successful this year and they've done it in different ways to some extent--which brings us to your first question. The baseline of success is that a series draws enough interest and participation to make it worthwhile to continue doing the series for everyone from the promoters to the players and sponsors. At the same time a local field operator may simply love tourney ball and may consider his efforts a success as long as he's proud of the product he provides and doesn't lose money doing it. If you're thinking a tourney series must show growth year to year or event to event that's plainly unrealistic in the current environment, particularly at the national level.

The universal why. You know -- life, the universe and everything. Just -- WHY?

Not about paintball of course but since it's an easy question -- why not? The universal answer is 42. (I thought everybody knew that. What do they teach in school these days?) The tricky part of this equation is knowing the question, which nobody knows. (It is not what is six times seven.) And the last time anyone made the effort to find out it didn't turn out all that well.

SnapShooting is one of the key skills for a player. But if you ask ten (pro or not) players to explain it, you will have ten versions of snapshooting. There is for sure only one good way to shapshot!!!
Who got the good one, and when the whole world of paintball will learn and train this basic skill the same way?

This is an interesting question on a couple of grounds. First, is there in fact one way that is demonstrably superior to all other options? I'm not convinced. I will grant that there are core fundamental techniques involved that if followed will offer the most consistent results for the most players--but does that mean I'm going to insist all my players do it my way? If they are 10 years old then yes, they do it my way because that becomes the foundation of their skill--not the end of it. If they're 18 or 20 odds are I will try to fine tune their technique instead. Second, you're going to have a hard time convincing one group or the other that they need to change what they're doing. If one technique proves to be universally superior everyone (mostly) will eventually adopt it.
But let's break it down a little further. What's the snap-shooting priority list? Presenting the least profile possible? Making an accurate shot? Taking the shot in the least amount of time? Replicating the technique in the widest variety of positions possible? And we haven't even considered the practical complexity of the bio-mechanical problems of real human bodies with the differing dimensions of gun set-ups and those effects on snap-shooting technique. Is there one technique that encompasses all those elements better than any other?
I tend to treat the issue like a swing coach in golf. If everyone could swing a club like Tiger Woods that's what I'd teach. Since they can't I focus on making them the best they can be.


houdini said...

The HydroTec launch at PBX seemed interesting? Considering the ball is in a solid state prior to impact I wonder if it a. will bounce off players b. hurt less or more ...compared to oil filled p'balls?

The tech info certainly seems exciting for those of us who live in hot and humid parts of the world.

Also your predictions are right then at least Chuck won't have a conflict of interest in 2011...

Baca Loco said...

More coming from Mr. Curious. Forget conflict of interest there's a lot of conflicting rumors going around. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Here's a question.
When is your WC layout analysis coming?