Regardless of where you reside or even what format of paintball it is that you play, if you want to succeed and reach the top level of the sport you must dedicate time to training and perfecting your existing techniques let alone learning and practicing new ones.
This is all well and good if you live in the paintball Mecca that is also known as California, where paintball fields are as popular as Starbucks and paintball itself is considered cooler than skateboarding, but if you live across the pond in a distant corner of Europe you might have to contend with factors outside of your control, such as less favorable climates, all of which might restrict the options that you have when it comes to training. Want to learn how to overcome these little obstacles and learn to work with whatever is available to you? Well read on and find out just how you can get the most out of your practices.
Let’s start by assuming the worst case scenario; wherever it is that you live, it is so remote and desolate that you seem to be the only one who seems to have any interest in playing paintball and as such if you want to practice the only option available to you is to practice on your own. Now on the face of it this seems like a pretty desperate situation, but turn it round so that it’s to your advantage and use it as a golden opportunity to work on your individual skills.
The best thing about individual training is that is requires minimal equipment to set up some simple yet highly effective drills that will not only work on elements of your game play but also help you physically through the rigors of playing paintball. Paintball as we all know can be a very physically intensive sport. As a rule the physically (and mentally) fitter you are, the greater your ability to cope with whatever circumstances you are presented with; whether that means you must break out to the snake or you have to run the flag back in the dying seconds of the game to secure enough points for tournament victory.
The importance of physical fitness should never therefore be underestimated, and if you are faced with some time without team mates and the climate or conditions are not conducive to heading down to your local field to practice some drills, then what better way to spend that time than working on your speed, strength and endurance skills by undergoing a mixture of cardio-vascular and resistance style training routines. When even the simplest of motions such as breaking out or snap shooting will be enhanced by basic fitness training, think of the long term benefit if you are an x-ball player and expect your body to undergo all types of endurance during the course of just one match let alone a whole weekend of competing.
Accuracy is one key skill that too many players, regardless of their ability, choose to ignore. Many players fall into the trap of thinking that because they can shoot their marker quickly, that accuracy isn’t important. It often makes me smile to myself when I see a seasoned player come up against one of the wonder-kids of today who happily shoots 15bps at them, only to be one-balled by the vet who simply chose his moment and took a calculated, well aimed shot. Paintball can be a very easy sport, so do the hard work on the training field and learn to make the tournament games themselves easy. This philosophy certainly applies to accuracy and a simple technique that I use to enhance my accuracy is something called the Can Game. The Can Game isn’t very equipment intensive at all; all your require (in addition to your paintball equipment) is an empty soda can or water bottle. The aim of the drill is to stand in an open area and place the can/bottle approximately 10 yards in front of you. Before you start the drill, choose which hand you want to practice shooting with and take single shots at the bottle every 5 seconds. This immediately works on your accuracy and trains you to literally shoot at what you can. As you become more accurate you will hit the can with a greater success rate, and each time you hit it, it will move further away from you; changing the distance and the profile of the target for you to contend with. Ensure that you practice the can game using your left hand and your right hand so that you work on your accuracy with both.
When I teach players how to make the most of their training sessions, I like them to learn ways of training effectively whilst shooting minimal paint therefore making it more cost effective. One of the most effective drills for training this is snap-shooting. The technique that you use when snap-shooting is not under discussion her as that can be covered in a separate article, but when you are snap shooting on your own, remain disciplined and resist the temptation to expose too much of your profile or indeed for too long. The simplest way of achieving this is to only fire one ball at a time as this will automatically limit the amount of time that you need to be exposed. Again ensure that you practice snap shooting at targets (set at varying distances) with both your left and right hands and from a variety of different bunkers (lay-down, snake, doritos, stand-ups) to get the most out of your solo training sessions.
Training with another player, or even in a team environment, has both advantages and disadvantages. Focus on what’s going to be advantageous to you though by setting up drills that practice multiple techniques at the same time and make the most of being able to train with, and more importantly against, other players. Whenever possible try to train against the best players in your area as if their skill sets are initially superior to yours it will force you train harder and compete to survive. Typical drills that can be set-up and utilized include:
- Snap shooting
Choose two bunkers approximately 30ft apart. Player A is the “snap shooter” and sets up to snap out of the right hand side of their bunker. Player B is the “poster” and sets up posted out of the left hand side of their bunker ready to aim at the snap shooter. By snap shooting against a posted opponent you ensure that both the snap shooter and the poster always have a target to shoot at. Do not switch sides individually as this will be pointless as neither of you will have a target; instead do it 50 times from one side of a bunker and then switch so that you both change sides and practice with your other hand. It is important that you not only change roles so that you both post and snap shoot with both hands, but that you focus on becoming unpredictable so that you are snapping and posting from different positions on the designated side of you bunker. Unpredictability will keep you alive so learn to use it to your advantage.
- Running and shooting
Set up a simple course that requires you to run and shoot a series of targets with both your left and your right hand. Yes this can also be practiced individually, but when training this drill as a team make sure that you time each players go and then set them a target time to achieve next time they try it. Speed is not the only important factor here, as to successfully “complete” the course, you have to hit every target so make sure that those who miss targets are forced to re-do the course or have a suitable punishment for missing targets.
- Race to the 50
Split the group up into pairs and divide the field into two halves length ways so that you can play on the full length of the field. Set up a key bunker such as a dorito on the 50 and set the objective of the first team to reach the 50 alive wins the drill. Change the field set-up to accommodate your requirements, but focus on practicing quick, well-timed movements to achieve the goal. Change the format too so that you practice this drill as 3 vs. 3 or other variations. Always remember that you cannot win the drill unless you are alive, so punish stupid risky moves and learn to time your movements to make you a better player.
- Control the 50
This is a variation of the “Race to the 50”; instead of just reaching the 50 alive, you have to remain in there for 30 seconds and shoot a series of targets. Again there are multiple variations of this drill; one possibility is to recycle new players into the field from the base camps if players get eliminated. All of these drills should be times with an emphasis on eliminating any player occupying the 50 swiftly before they become settled and have the chance to do any damage.
Hopefully this article will have started to provoke some thought in the paintball side of your brain and will at least have shown you some secrets to getting the most out of your training regardless of what facilities you have at your disposal.