Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Deconstructing Skill

What constitutes a skill as it applies to competitive paintball? Yesterday's post illustrated that "skills" can change and be misunderstood so how do we first make a determination about what is a real skill and what isn't? Hitting a ball with a stick is not a useful skill in paintball but it is a recognized skill. In baseball. But I would go further and suggest that if the game of baseball didn't exist then hitting a ball with a stick would be considered a pointless waste of time, at best the province of idle children idling. If true, then a skill cannot be separated from the activity to which it applies. And we can define paintball skills generally as those actions and abilities that allow a player to most effectively play the game as defined by the rules.

Once upon a time football (the American version) did not have the forward pass as an offensive option. Football was a collegiate and intramural sport for 50 years before the forward pass was made legal and another 45 years passed before the basic rules we recognize today were established. And there was also a time when basketball didn't have a jump shot. The jump shot first appeared in the mid-30s but wasn't popularized by the NBA until the early 50s. Unlike football where the pass was acknowledged but illegal the jump shot was never banned, it simply wasn't invented until later in basketball's development. Imagine the transitional years with players arguing the merits of the set shot versus the jump shot. Today the very idea is ludicrous. Both the pass and the jump shot took time to become what they are in today's versions of their respective sports because the majority of players and coaches didn't comprehend their potential to change the game. Students of military history observe the same thing in the old adage that today's generals tend to fight yesterday's wars. And competitive paintball is no different.

Here's where I suggest, by way of a paintball example, another heresy--the diminished relevance of the snap-shot. Yes, it's a recognized skill of the game. And remains one today. It is one of many skills related to handling and using a paintball gun. As all of you certainly know the object is to discharge an accurate shot in as a brief a window of time as possible while maintaining the smallest target profile possible. It's a sexy skill in that it is widely understood to be more difficult to master than many other paintball skills. (Thousands of repetitive and frequently erroneous articles have been written about it.) In the modern Race 2 format especially the snap-shot has become a subset of gunfighting and more often than not you see the snap-shot utilized in competition when there are better alternatives (because the player is afraid or is struggling with the transition to gunfighting or is poorly trained) or because a given player is getting low on paint. The weaknesses of the snap-shot are that it resets to a neutral posture every time and is incapable of maintaining edge & lane control. Any player caught up in a snap-shooting contest with an opponent reduces his (her) potential for success by giving up any advantage that might have been gained taking a prior shot(s)--unless of course your opponent was eliminated. Against players of equal skill the snap-shot is a roll of the dice whereas effective gunfighting improves the odds of success.

Next time, Measuring Skill.


sdawg said...
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sdawg said...

Please explain "prior shots".

3DSteve said...

Do you think snapshooting can be an effective way to contest or gain edge control?

Baca Loco said...

All I mean is that snap-shooting is a string or sequence of repeated actions that can be described as set-up behind cover, pop out, shoot, regain cover. Each snap-shot returns the shooter to the same position they began in and the longer the sequence is repeated the more "prior shots" there are. Each shot involves X amount of risk and is necessarily repeated (unless the opponent is eliminated).
Does that help?

Depends. If the snap-shot is utilised as a technique in the gunfighter's aresenal then yes, it can contribute to effective gunfighting. Otherwise, short of eliminating the opponent, no, it can't gain or keep edge control.

raehl said...

A skill is a talent that a player has that increases their chance of success over a player lacking the talent.

Pulling a trigger isn't a skill because doing it well gives no advantage to the player with the talent over a player who just has a better electronic board.

Snap shooting is generally silly when you could just keep shooting. It might be less silly if, say, you had a limit on the amount of paint you had available to shoot.

pb said...

haha. . . snap shooting is a tad more involved than just 'pulling a trigger'. It IS a viable option in some instances.

An example would be a player is in the snake and his mirror has a dominate position posted; a solid quick snap can catch the posting player, allowing the snapper to move up.

OR if he's popping paint off the edge of the snake players bunker, a quick snap over the top can catch the poster before he can react.

As Baca said it is a skill, one of many. One issue seems to be that young players put to much emphasis on it when there are other skills that make for a more well rounded player.