Practice makes perfect, right? It does in theory. This month I'll
give you seven different drills to make you and your teammates more
Feel free to modify these drills to fit your specific needs. Each drill was designed to emphasize a particular skill, movement or stage in the game.
Every sport has a drill you can't practice enough. The free throw, the slap shot, the serve and, for paintball, the one-on-one. People are afraid of losing one-on-ones because they can't point fingers at anyone else after a loss. Some players thrive in one-on-one situations, others don't. Whether or not you like playing one-on-ones is irrelevant: You have to learn to win one-on-ones and you'll have to win them under pressure. Before you can perform under pressure you'll have to perform without it, so drag your teammates to the field and take out some much-needed aggression on your teammates while improving your skills.
The best way to get this drill out of the way is to set aside time at the beginning or end of practice and run a quick, inter-squad one-on-one tournament. You can play single-elimination, double-elimination, a ladder system, whatever.
Players: 2 Time limit: None (You can add a short time limit of a minute or less to simulate a one-on-one to end the game.)
The best way to learn is by doing, so grab a partner, pick your bunkers and start battling. The point of the drill: Shoot the guy trying to shoot you. There are dozens of drills designed to develop your snapshooting skills. This drill combines some of those with a live opponent to make it realistic.
This drill is flexible; you don't need a set time or goal. We usually play with a hopper of paint, only pausing after we get shot. If you get hit, yell "hit," pause, then continue to play. This way your adrenaline stays up and you don't have much time to think about your mistakes.
Be creative when you choose your bunkers. You can line up with someone in your mirror for an even playing field or you can put one player in a difficult bunker and let him try to gunfight his way out of it. Remember to switch sides after you reset the drill, so you don't have a player always using their dominant hand or the dominant bunker.
Players: 2 Time limit: None to short
In this drill, the offense has to insert a player into a specific forward bunker (snake, dorito, 50) while the defense tries to stop them. This teaches the offense how to work together and coordinate moves, and the defense how to cooperate to stop those moves. Defenders will learn they don't always have to battle, how to hide and watch a lane, not to get flustered while taking heat, etc. Your offense will learn how to work together to jam up the defense and when to take chances.
The defender must keep the other team out of the bunker. If they get to the bunker or the defender(s) is shot, the game is over. This drill can be played with any number of players; since this is a defensive drill, give the offense more players. Time limit is one minute; use shorter times of 30 and 15 seconds (or shorter) for a more intense, realistic drill.
Players: 3+ Time limit: Your choice
This drill is designed to hone your accuracy while running and shooting. You can run this drill a couple of different ways. One way is to set up an obstacle course, using paint boxes, cans, bottles, old masks, cats, or whatever as targets. Design an obstacle course, pick the path you want to run it and start the drill. You can implement a time limit or score to turn the drill into a competition. The best way to run this drill is with a live opponent. Line up with a partner on opposite sides of the field or an open area. Running horizontally tapeline-to-tapeline, shoot at your opponent. You can stop the drill when a player is hit or end the drill after a player runs back to the starting point: your choice. Another way to run the drill is to have the players run and gun toward each other on the field, without being able to stop in a bunker. This teaches players to live behind their gun. End the game when someone crosses the 50.
Players: 1-2 Time limit: None
Run It, Vern
Line up two players on opposite sides of the field. One player runs to the snake (or dorito, or another predetermined bunker of your choice) while the other player tries to sweetspot him from the box (the center of the field at the starting gate). The drill ends once a player gets into the chosen bunker. Have the players switch back and forth. Even if your sweetspotter isn't a front player, running to a forward spot will teach him more about how to shoot a guy running to the snake and vice-versa. This is a good drill to run because it pits your sweetspotters against your front players, 1-on-1. The sweetspotter knows exactly where your forward is going. This drill will teach your forward how to pick running lanes and avoid getting shot off the break. It will also help your defender understand how a player can take many different routes to get to the same bunker and keep them from getting lazy while sweetspotting.
Players: 2 Time limit:
Once the forward reaches the bunker
Line two teams up in the starting gate and break out. You don't need entire teams for this drill; you can run the drill inter-squad between your front guys and back guys. The drill is simple: Break out. Front players run to their spots, back guys shoot at them. End the drill after 10 or 15 seconds and start over. When you run the drill back-to-back a few times you'll figure out what works and what doesn't and learn to change things on the fly. It isn't rocket science, it's about learning the running and shooting lanes. Eventually your team will look and feel confident breaking out against any opponent.
Players: Teams Time limit: 20 seconds
This drill is run as a normal game, except one of your players doesn’t get a gun. It can be any player, but the drill works best if the center doesn’t have a gun. Without the ability to shoot or defend himself, your center can only communicate to help the team win. This drill emphasizes the need for teams to communicate to win.
You can modify the drill to a 2-on-1 (the two sharing only one gun), 3-on-2, 5-on-3, etc. Without a gun, your players are forced to communicate if they want to remain effective on the field.
Players: 3+ Time limit: Until all players are eliminated (Add a time limit to simulate real game scenarios.)
Don't be afraid to lose in practice. Take chances. Play with your off hand. Play with half a loader of paint. If you go out and play to your strengths every game, trying to show off at practice, it'll catch up to you eventually. The key to these drills is consistency. It's better to repeat the same drill at practice every week than to try a new drill every time, never really mastering anything. Good luck, and stay in school.