Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fitting the Frame

This is not an O/T crime noir study–alas. Just another competitive paintball post in what has become a mighty long list of VFTD posts. This is the prologue for the Basic Tactics series. Something to keep in mind when the series starts. In thinking about how to proceed with Basic Tactics I’ve decided to try and set the table, or the stage (insert the commonplace metaphor of your choice here) about the mental frame necessary to keeping all the tactical elements in their proper place. (If you’re already a little confused, join the club.) My concern is that the tactics of the game can remain bland and uninspiring if they are simply words in a post or lines on a diagram. The tactics don’t fulfill their potential until they are played out in the game by players who understand their import and their individual roles.
Ever watched a team close out a point with seeming telepathic precision without saying a word and wondered at how they achieved that level of teamwork? Or the converse, a team up on bodies struggle and fail to take advantage of the their numbers despite a lot of yelling and wasted time? Part of the difference between the two is tactics and part is executing those tactics as a unit. When a team shares the same fundamental understanding of how the game should be played and what their role is the pieces fall into place. When a team doesn’t, they don’t.
Those of you who are football fans (real football) will know what special teams are. (If you don’t know anything about ‘special teams’ phone a friend or use a lifeline or if all else fails Wiki it.) In kick coverage almost everyone on a special teams unit has one fundamental job. As you run down field stay in your assigned coverage lane. Get down field fast. Avoid contact and blockers as best you can. Find the football. Tackle the ball carrier. As a player you can fail at all the elements of the play after stay in your assigned lane and be part of a successful play. More big plays are given up because one guy failed to maintain his lane than because of all the strength, speed and athleticism on display combined.
Are you familiar with the game checkers? (If not you know the drill.) Checkers is usually considered a child’s game. The rules are simple. To begin all the pieces are alike. The object is to take your opponents pieces while preserving yours–which is bit more difficult than you might imagine given they all move the same way and are identical. A piece is removed from the board when the opponent jumps an opposing piece. Pieces can only be jumped when they share adjacent squares and the square in line on the other side of the piece to be jumped is an open square. And should your jump land your piece in a position to make another jump over an opponent’s piece you may jump as many pieces as possible. One of the common strategies is to move your pieces into positions that ultimately force your opponent into moves where they lose pieces. Inexperienced or youthful players often fail to recognize the risks created by the relationships of all their pieces across the board.
A fast food burger joint is an assembly line of workers. The person working the fryer is responsible for keeping fresh hot fries ready to go. That person isn’t in charge of taking orders. Or cooking burgers. Or getting drinks. Or adding condiments. Or unpacking bags of buns. Or working the cash register. Or putting the orders together. Or ordering inventory. Or writing the payroll checks. Not the Fry Guy’s responsibility. But what happens to everyone in the whole restaurant if Fry Guy can’t keep the fries coming?
There are applications to be gleaned from the examples above. I am not spelling them out for you because we are talking about your mental frame of reference. It is something you (and your teammates) need to internalize and I cannot do that for you. Think about the examples and see if you can’t apply them to playing team paintball.

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