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Trust the Trainer

Trust the Trainer
Last week, New England’s only pro team (187) shuttered its doors after 5 years.

I’m guessing that it was a bittersweet moment for Dave Painter, the founder and godfather of the 187 cRew. It’s a labor of love, running a pro team. It’s stressful and expensive and it gives you a glimpse into just how good the top teams are, up close and personal. As time wears on and you first start thinking about the end of your run, you worry about both taking care of your players and your legacy. At least I did. And when you decide to pull the plug, it hurts. And a week later, it hurts less. And two months later, you’re saying to yourself, “wow, how did I carry that weight that long?”

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Paintball is different than other sports in that a player’s ability to advance is predicated on his access to teams at the next level. If you grow up in an area without nationally competing teams, it’s really hard to get on a team that competes nationally. Saying it like that makes it sort of … duh. I know. But most sports have town leagues, high school teams, college teams. None of that exists in paintball. The strength of a region comes from the team OWNERS that exist in that area. People like Dave Painter, Beau Milo (NYO), Sean Wyatt and Brett Messer (Bay State), Dean Carleton (PMob), Rob Lospannato (Landslyde), Kermit (CTO), Arnold (MOB Crew) and Adam Zippin (Crusade) (and many more - New England is spoiled) aren’t so much created by NE paintball as much as they make NE paintball. The more of them that exist today, doing a good job running teams today, the more will exist tomorrow. When people like Dave hang ‘em up, teams die. When enough people like Dave hang ‘em up, regions die. 

Which brings me to the NEPL Combine. Boston Paintball’s 12-years running clinic-and-team-building extravaganza. Two years ago, Boston introduced the Coaches’ Clinic, hosted by Todd Martinez. This year the class is being taught by Rusty Glaze. And, with all due respect to the excellent pro players who come in to coach players, helping them refine their skills to the point where they are ready to join teams and advance their ‘careers’, the Coaches’ Clinic helps create the teams those players need to put those newfound skills to good use. 

I am attending Rusty’s clinic. Bluntly, I wonder about any serious team that doesn’t have someone attending. This is the guy who coaches DYNASTY. Forget all the years he played professionally and all the skills and knowledge he garnered playing with Infamous and Dynasty, the greatest team in the history of our sport hand selected him to lead them. 

If you are a coach, if you are a player who thinks he may someday become a coach, if you are a team captain, if you are a player on a team who wants to know how he can help the entire group move forward, find a coaching clinic taught by someone who actually knows their ****, and take advantage of it. Come with questions (I’m coming with a bunch for Rusty), pay very close attention. Without people learning what Rusty can teach, it won’t matter how good you are as a player. Ryan, Damian, Billy and Nick create players. What Rusty will be teaching can create a region.

 

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No Coach? How to work around it

No Coach? How to work around it

No Coach?

 

Having a coach helps. A lot. But not having one isn’t a death sentence. You can still compete. It’ll just take a bit more work.

So, how do we plan around not having a coach?

The first step happens before you get to the event, at practices. Learn the field as best you can and create a ‘playbook’. Playbooks have fallen out of grace in recent years because they somewhat limit you. You have your ‘canned’ responses and are potentially limited (or at least, challenged to think outside the box in a time-sensitive, pressurized situation) to what you’ve already drawn up. But, without a coach, at least at the beginning, it will probably help because it’ll focus your thoughts onto a challenge you can deal with. Eventually you want to get away from a playbook but to start, a playbook will help you focus on controlling your pits and creating the calm, focused environment you want.

The second step: set up your first # points. Who is playing what breakout? Again, as with the playbook, you are accepting some limitations (flexibility) in exchange for some benefits (control, depressurizing). Eventually you’ll want to become more fluid and to create responses to the field in real time, but to start, this will help.

Next step: scout like hell. Watch every point of every team you play. Between scouting and the playbook, you’ll be able to map the first # points for each match 30 minutes before you play (in what will hopefully be a nice, calm team discussion).

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What Else You Should be Doing at Practice

What Else You Should be Doing at Practice

Ran a practice for Pip Pip Cheerio yesterday. Thought I'd put the practice notes up here in case it helps anyone.

Just to reiterate: I'm not a coach. I don't really 'do' drills and what not. So if you have a lot of questions, I'd suggest joining BKi and asking Grayson. That's the kind of stuff he does.

 

Practice.v3

 

Warm Up:

2 laps around the field

5-10 Min of stretching

 

Shuttle Run across the field & back - 1/3rd toe jogging (heels never touch the ground), 1/3rd knee high and 1/3rd butt kickers (heel hits your ass), on way back across field, side shuttle (about 25 seconds in) to the 50 and then sprint the rest of the way.

 

Plyometric Warm Up (8-15 Min). The goal here is to get a body warm up, get your sweating a bit, breathing a bit heavy. You’re going to have to be able to play through that in a match, so might as well practice that way.  We are stealing someone else’s exercise (Taylor Cormier) called the Hop Pivot Relay: Two teams, running a relay race against each other. First you hop to the 50 on your left leg, then to the far starting box on your right leg, turn around and hop back to the 40 on both legs (I guess that’s not really hopping, but…), then you do low lunges to the 50 and sprint back to where you started, tagging the next guy in line.

 

Individual Skill Drills

 

“Elastic” Snap Shooting: one shot at a time, snapping back behind cover after each shot, either against a target or one-on-one competition (with limited bunker use). Works on first shot accuracy. Fill your pack, snap your pack.  If time allows, do this twice (sandwiched around other drills)

 

Snap-and-Go: Two players in mirrored bunkers (let’s say they are each in the bunker that leads to the snake). They snap with each other until one can put the other in and bump cleanly into the snake. That player wins.

 

Snake Elevation: Specialized snap shooting where a dorito player snaps across field at a target above the snake (simulating the snake player popping the top). This is specifically first shot accuracy at the snake. I like to do this as a dorito side, one-on-one battle with occasional looks inside at the snake target.

 

Containment: 2 on 1: player 1 contains player A while player 2 tries to make a specific bunker

 

Run & Gun: Start in start box. Spin and shoot a target just before the corner/dorito1/snake1 or the widest bunker. When you have hit the target by spinning, run to an insert bunker, wrap on the back center and contain it by bursting with around 10 balls. Start slow and hit your targets and build up speed.

 

Game Simulations

Breakouts: One player runs to dorito/snake corner (can add a target to shoot at while running) while opposite player starts at 3 and guns for him. Can add another player (in runners’ starting box) to edge the gunner.  

 

Bowling Alleys: Snake/Dorito Side: 2-on-1, 2-on-2, 2-on-3

 

Closing Drills: 2-on-1, 3-on-2, 5-on-3…

 

30-Second Points: Uh… duh.

 

3-on-3 Tourney: End the day with something fun and the winner doesn’t have to help with cleanup (or something)

 

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Managing the Pit

Managing the Pit

 

Bluntly: you aren’t going to win anything if you spend all your energy fighting yourselves. Disorganized, unfocused, stressed out pits are a death sentence for any team.

The army has a saying, “Men need to be led.” Make no mistake about it, pits need to be controlled. Own the pit. Get everyone focused in the same (and hopefully right) direction. 

Each case is different, so there is no cure-all I can offer, just high level directions.

Get everyone to the point where they understand and buy into the idea that the team is bigger than any individual. The team is greater than the sum of its parts. The name on the front of your jersey is more important than the one you the back. Maybe that starts with a coach or captain who the team listens to (the coach or captain, standing in for the team, is bigger than each individual). Eventually, though, people need to realize that it is the team that they are there for, not themselves. The team is bigger than the individual.

Get everyone focused on things they can control. You can’t control the reffing. You can’t control the paint. You can’t even control your teammates. So don’t waste time on it. Fix what YOU can fix, which is only, ever, yourself. Trust your teammates to do the same. But no finger should ever be pointed at something you can’t fix or have no control over.

Get everyone focused on the next point. How you got shot only matters as a mistake-driven learning opportunity. If you bounced a guy, it only matters so the next point everyone knows that shot. If the other guy wiped or the ref made a bad call, get over it. You have another point coming up in just a few minutes, but you have all night after the event to cry about life’s great injustices. 

Don’t get caught up in past successes. That’s a trap. Each year, you have to evaluate what your CHANGING needs are. What worked for you one year may or may not work for you the next. Each team has to find its own answer for each challenge, and sometimes each challenge, each time, because what the team needs changes as players, coaches, sponsors and expectations come and go.

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System Goals for YOUR teams Best Operating Strategy

System Goals for YOUR teams Best Operating Strategy

System Goals

The primary goal of my ‘system’ is to disperse responsibilities so that each part of the organization can focus on just one thing, and do that one thing to the best of its ability. This creates an environment where players need focus only on playing, so they can do that to their full and best ability. This also creates pits that are compartmentalized, organized, prepared and depressurized. 

Take the Bandits. The players play, that’s all they do. There is a “pit boss” who runs the pits. I explained how I wanted things to run and he took it and made it his own. It is his only responsibility and he has complete authority. No one (but me) overrules him and I very very rarely overrule him. There is a coach who owns the X’s and O’s of paintball. That is his only responsibility and he has complete authority. No one, including myself, overrules him (although he usually listens to my suggestions when I make them). Nobody is trying to eat the elephant. Everyone is taking just their individual bite. The end result is a system and organization that has dispersed responsibilities and tension and is better prepared to deal with the unexpected fuck-ups and general stressors of a tournament. 

Not everyone has a pit boss and a coach at their disposal. So I would suggest to most teams that you target the 80% of the 80/20 rule.

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