Starting a Paintball Team
Starting a team is as easy as saying you want to. This article will teach you how to actually run the team. Teams can be any number of people. My first team started as a two guys, then we picked up another player and a couple kids from around to play 5-man. Every team has a different focus or agenda. If you are one of the founding members of your team, figure out what your goals are. Do you want to be a top NPPL team in two years? Do you want to go pro? Are you just trying to have a good time? You might want to put together a team for just one event. Find other players with an agenda similar to yours.
This article will focus on building a team for a tournament. The most important thing for a tournament paintball team is a stable roster. At this point, skill level isn't very important. Your team will learn and grow together; sometimes picking players who are much better than the rest of the team will cause resentment, and that player will leave to a better team. Since you are probably acting as captain, approach a player and ask him to join your team. Tell them what you're about and ask them to come to a practice. If you are just starting, you probably won't have enough clout to steal good players from other teams, but try to avoid that if possible. If someone doesn't fit or doesn't want to come back, don't force it. You will spend a lot of time with your teammates, always pick people you get along with.
Tournaments of all sizes can be found at almost every paintball field or at least in every region. 3-man and 5-man are the most common formats at rookie and novice events. Check on the Internet for tournament dates and locations. Tournaments range from low-cost outings with few or no prizes to highly competitive big money tournaments. Which tournament you enter depends on the size of your roster, your skill and your budget. It's good to play cheaper tournaments at first, as they are generally less competitive. This will help you get a feel for the tournament scene and give you some valuable experience.
Once you've picked a tournament, you'll need to practice for it. How much you practice depends on a number of factors: how much time you have before the tournament, how many players can make it to each practice, how much money you have, etc. Try to give yourself at least two good practices before a tournament. It's better to have a few good all-day practices with your full team than to have a lot of half-assed practices. Trust me on that one. Set up a practice schedule that everyone can follow. If you can, find another team to practice with. If you're just starting out, you'll want to find a team of similar skill. If you can take it, practice a team better than you. It will only help you get better.
At practice you'll want to simulate a tournament as closely as possible. Start the day by walking the fields, getting a feel for where everyone will be playing. Establish priorities and game plans; do you want to keep them out of the snake, work on your communication, try to close with everyone alive, etc. ? After the game discuss what went well and what didn't. Talk about mistakes and how you can improve next game.
Try and have someone who knows paintball (a friend, a teammate sitting that game) watch from the sidelines and offer an unbiased appraisal of the game. Everyone will walk off the field screaming their version of what went wrong. Always listen to that guy on the sidelines, adrenaline clouds your memory. If you can, have that person or someone else take pictures. They will be valuable for posting pictures of you on the 'Nation bunkering some fool, looking at how poor your technique is, or just plain ole' memory.
If you're practicing a better team, ask for advice. I don't know any player on the planet who won't tell you what he thinks you're doing wrong. Try and find the player you were playing against, or who shot your, and ask what you could do better next time? There's no harm in making mistakes, only in making the same mistake twice.
One of the most difficult situations you will have to deal with is alternating players. If you are only playing local tournaments I recommend you have only as many players as the format allows, i.e. 5 players for a 5-man team. Unless you have a set rotation pattern, or someone is OK with sitting a lot, this will become a major issue. It's hard to get into a rhythm when you're constantly rotating people, but it's even harder to tell your friends they have to sit. Always be honest, always try to be fair.
Try and make your team a team in the fullest sense of the word. A lot of teams get matching jerseys or t-shirts to play in. Ask your local shop for a sponsorship of some type. If you are young, try and someone's mom to be Team Mom. Pack a cooler of snacks so you can sit around at lunch time and talk. Designate someone to bring water, or batteries, or an EZ-UP for shade. Call each other, see movies, hang out. Little things like this make a team feel and work better.
Teams teach you how to deal with people, how to accomplish common goals, how to work together, how to break rental cars, how to get arrested and more. Losing hurts, but you learn a lot more by losing than you do by winning. Take everything in stride, forgive your teammates if they make mistakes. Everyone's young, pressure does funny things to people.
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