Sunday, June 1, 2014

Failure Begins Where Preparation Ends

Ponder that for a moment or two. Let it sink in. Now review for yourself where your preparation (as a player and part of a team) to compete begins and ends. Are you missing something? Don't lie. Of course you are. I already know it's true and if you refuse to admit it there won't be anything you can do to fix it.
(Did you really ponder it or did you just read over it and keep going? If you didn't ponder the title before do it now.)
Okay. Let's begin. There are a few essential axioms of competitive paintball. The title of this post is one. Another is--Practice like you intend to play. These two axioms alone are sufficient to guide your training if ruthlessly applied to every decision.
The most that most teams do to prepare is find some lanes to shoot OTB, vaguely discuss likely primaries and if they feel like putting in a full day's work may toss in a few ideas about secondary options. With all that tedious field-walking done they can then get down to the business of scrimmaging for as everyone knows--it is after all the conventional wisdom--that's where teams really learn and improve. (Yes, the sarcasm was intentional.)
How often have you seen teams pull defeat from the jaws of victory? It's lots, isn't it? (How often has your team managed it? Too often, yes?) What happens is simple. Positively predictable even and yet almost no one acts to forestall this inevitability.
Your breakout goes like clockwork. Everyone makes their primaries. Guns are rolling. Snakeside lead makes a successful bump. The team has achieved its prepared goals and at this point it should be mostly down hill and yet ... somehow the team loses a body, then another and before you know it what looked like an easy win turns into a difficult to understand loss and brings with it the concomitant frustration, confusion and doubt (which kills teams.) So how does it happen?
It happens because teams fail to properly and completely prepare to compete. That simple. Take a moment and think how most points play out. By the late mid-game, unless the point is a complete blowout, both sides are down bodies with one team carrying either a numbers or a positional advantage, and sometimes both, as the point transitions into the end-game. More often than not who is still alive? Inserts and back guys. And if they've done their jobs correctly they've taken ground and moved upfield as opportunity permitted. But did they ever walk that portion of the field? Did they ever take the time to find the angles and shots upfield? Have they played those props in practice? How many close outs did they simulate in practice to get ready for the real thing?
The usual answer is none--or if they want to expand the meaning of "prepare" they might suggest they played some of those spots in various scrimmage points. But odds are that at no time during their preparation did they make a concerted and conscious effort either as an individual or a team to learn about that portion of the field and play it sufficiently to get comfortable and confident being in that position.
And the failure to include every phase of a point in your preparation is how players turn victory into defeat over and over again.
Don't get me wrong. It's not a panacea. There are no guarantees. Sometimes the other guys are just better but one of our goals in practice is to be in control of as much of the game as we can and if we routinely fail to fully prepare before competing we aren't doing everything we can to succeed.
Ponder that for a while.


Anonymous said...

This is all well and good, and if I hear one more person talk about the "grind"...

Michael Brozak said...

Paul - do you feel that this focus should be really with the more advanced divisions? I'm not quite sure that our D6 and very few of our D5 kids are ready for this yet. I'm still trying to get them successful in the laning then break out to primaries. Now at the D4 level I think this is a critical skill set that we will be focusing more.

Anonymous said...

I'd add that planning for moves beyond the 50 yard line in many ways doesn't happen anymore because field designs don't often make liveable/playable bunkers once you pass the 50. Give someone a spot they get move to on the other team's 40 yardline and you'll have plans to get there. And incidentally, you'll have quicker games as times push hard to get right up into each others face early on.

Anonymous said...

I think you have it backwards, the higher the number (IE D4) is worse compared to the lower number (IE D1).

Furthermore, D5-6 are made up and don't even exist. D4 is where the game starts. It drives me nuts when people talk about anything lower than D4. Don't propogate such stupid things.

Miss Q said...

Someone made up D4 once...

We don't seem to think that guy is stupid anymore.

Anonymous said...

Bring back Am A and Am B! If you want to play lower you can play in NOOB division :)

Anonymous said...


Its all about how you use the right words to engage the audience.

Since common people have absolutely no clue what competitive paintball is, why did the "industry" decide to use a division system? How does it benefit the sport?

"I play D1 in paintball" or " I play Amateur paintball" what is less confusing and gets a clear message across to a common person?

Michael Brozak said...

Anon 12:48

Seems to me at the last check APPA recognizes both D6 3-man and D5 5-man. So maybe do a wee bit of checking before inserting one's foot in one's mouth and criticizing others. If APPA now doesn't have any credibility and is in fact making up divisions, then maybe someone (you) should convince them to put out a memo.

MysteryQ said...

oooooh. burrrrrn.

Grayson Goff said...

I'm trying to teach the kids!

NewPro said...

Paintball: The greatest haven of experts presently employed in various non-mgmt positions across the globe. "If someone would just give my ideas the go ahead, the cash influx, the workforce and the teams, I'd have the greatest league ever.

Just ask me :)

Baca Loco said...

Keep up the good work!