What do you think Division 1 teams can and need to do in order to better themselves to make the jump to Pro? Besides the experience, what do Pro teams have that a successful D1/ Semipro team doesn't have and how can we best prepare ourselves for what's to come.
Players capable of competing on the Pro level. Of course part of that capability is born of experience--but not all of it.
Then there's the interesting qualifier; "successful" D1/Semipro teams. But what constitutes successful in this context? The big unknown for any team making the jump is whether the team belongs or doesn't. Let's look for a moment at the last two PSP am teams to make the jump; Vicious & CEP. Vicious via D1 and a Semi-pro season and CEP from D1. Vicious finished 10 of 12 teams in their first season and 8 out of 10 in their second with one Sunday appearance. Fortunately that Sunday came at Cup and provides a lift going into next season. CEP finished 10 of 10. Would it surprise you to know that Vicious has only won 2 PSP events since 2007? And that CEP won only one of 8 D1 events and one of those D1 seasons also saw the PSP offer a Semipro division. I mention the history of the latest two additions to the PSP Pro division because almost everyone would have said they were successful programs prior to making the move. (I am not, btw, saying neither Vicious or CEP can compete at the pro level but I also don't doubt for a second it's proved much more difficult than either team expected.) The (apparently) soon to be Pro Upton 187 has been more successful winning their final three D2 events and the final two D1 events this past season. That's 5 wins in the last 8 events. Now that is a successful team. Will it translate into pro success? Depends on what "success" means, doesn't it? Just being able to call yourself a pro player or have PBN turn you green is not success. Joining the club isn't success--it is the ultimate challenge in competitive paintball--embrace it.
Realistically--for pretty much everybody--early on success is survival. Success is staying engaged, staying positive, fighting the good fight. Recognizing there is a steep learning curve. One positive way to do this is to have clearly articulated goals. Focus on those goals and focus on learning the necessary lessons the competition will try to teach.
As a practical matter there are perhaps a few proactive things to be done. Play pro teams. (Easier said than done, I know.) (Keeping in mind that practice isn't competition. You only succeed in practice if you learn something and improve.) Organize your pit. Do it the same way every time with everyone having a known role to perform as required. (The less the team has to think about things other than playing the better.) The same applies to any and all team-related roles. It promotes order and frees the players up to focus on playing. At the beginning of each season the team should set goals, by practice, by event and for the season. Adjust upward as needed. Make every practice count. Practice needs to focus on making each and every player better, every time. (The critical question is how, I know.) One way is to tape practice and matches for later evaluation. Ideally, here's where a captain or coach can make a significant difference, particularly one who has been there and done that. It's mighty hard to know what you're missing when you don't know you're missing it. It is also difficult for most teams to internally evaluate one another and the team's deficiencies--much less have a good idea how to fix identified problems. And most players, however motivated, need someone to help draw the best out of them. And of course Race 2-7 is a more tactical and strategic variant than they will be used to as well.
At the end of the day there remain no guarantees. No sure fire answers. No roadmap to certain success. The best you can do is do your best.