Excuse the title... I meant to post this on Valentine's Day.
Not many of you know this but I am...well…was and still pretend to be occasionally, a musician. I used to have delusions of grandeur that I would be up in front of thousands of screaming fans as I ripped their faces off with my shredding guitar work. Alas, it was not to be. To this day I am a huge metal head. Of course, I am open to all genres but I stay pretty rooted when it comes to what is in my CD player: rock, hardcore, alternative and metal. Sabbath, Maiden, Priest, Purple… you get the idea. So, I was reading some work by Henry Rollins recently. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Rollins, he began his career as the lead singer for the hardcore/punk band Black Flag. Once that band folded, he started his own record label and saw success as a solo artist when he created The Rollins Band. He happens to be a very intelligent person as well as a successful comedian/writer/actor. Anyway, as I stated, I was reading some of his work and one of his statements stuck out: “Youths write me and tell me that their band will go nowhere because of all the bad bands in the world. I tell them there has always been awful music and that no great band ever wasted any time complaining, they just got it done. Their ropey ranting is just a way to get out of the hard work of making music that will do some lasting damage.”
It was as if Henry was speaking right to paintball teams in general. Why? Take that quote and where he says “bands” put “paintball teams” and where he says “music” put “teams” and reread it. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
We have a standing rule among the Prime Program. No internet thuggery. No one is allowed to post anything of a critical nature ever. We are only to promote/support our sponsors in the best light possible. That includes leaving the juvenile, mundane, ill-informed and opinionated back slapping/name calling, excuse making to others. Not our fight. We let our game talk since that is what we are here to do, play paintball and hopefully, God willing, play it well.
That doesn’t mean we don’t stay up to speed on current events or happenings within the local, regional and national paintball scenes. We often have internal discussions about these topics. What kind of program would we be if we didn’t have a strategy for change? We would be foolish not to be at least informed.
You may ask, what does this have to do with your opening comments? Well, it’s this. I often stumble across posts or comments in forums or on social media where a team or a player will blame the outcome of a tournament on variables outside of their control. We’ve all heard and seen them at the event or afterwards, the keyboard cowboys, the conspiracy theorists. Some of the more common posts I read are, “The refs screwed us!” or “The refs were horrible and missed so many calls!” or “The refs know the team we were playing!” or my personal favorite, “We received a penalty by this one ref for rub my guy had on his face!” Whether these comments are indeed true or not should be irrelevant. We have all seen or participated in a game where a ref’s call, accurate or inaccurate, missed or caught, had a definitive impact on the outcome of a game, right? Right. But maybe we shouldn’t be looking at those variables. Maybe we should be focusing on what we can control and what, more than likely, is the real reason we lost that match or event. Maybe we should be looking at…yee-gads!... us/ourselves. Maybe it wasn’t the ref. Maybe… just maybe… you got outworked?
Drills baby drill
Let’s talk work ethic. How often does your team practice? HOW do you practice and how WELL do you practice? How STRUCTURED is your practice? Do you set GOALS for each practice? What elements keep you from practicing? How SUCCESSFUL do you want to be and on what level (local, regional, national)? What infrastructure do you have in place to help facilitate the team’s progress?
Ask yourself those questions and be honest with yourself. Here is how Prime would answer those questions:
- Every weekend unless otherwise stated. It is understood that after an event, the teams have the following weekend off. This too falls under, “unless otherwise stated”. Family and school come before Prime but with notification. Every member knows to contact a captain and explain if they have something pressing that will keep them from the schedule. You have a major test coming up? You better be studying because Prime doesn’t want dummies. We want thinkers, motivators, innovators who are self-aware and analytical, who understand process. Education helps with that. We want people who understand the importance of family because we are a family. If you don’t genuinely care about the guy next to you I can’t make you a true Prime teammate.
- Our practice is structured to build from the ground up. We start the day with everyone running and stretching together. Then we move into a little aggressiveness to get the blood pumping and create a little wake up call. We then drill fundamentals: Laning, run and gunning, snapping and communication. Next we will roll into situational drills, down body drills, closing drills. All questions and concerns are addressed during all drills. If the team is struggling as a whole, we will stay with the drill until we see marked improvement. A Prime practice lasts anywhere between 6-8 hours.
- We usually set a goal during a particular drill or we will set a goal for the day e.g. improved communication with data getting across the field or consistently shooting a particular bunker dorito side of the field on the break by each player on the team.
- We want to win on all levels and recognize that it will require a lot of sacrifice in order to do so. We don’t walk into rooms we don’t know how to walk out of.
- We have a private communication board where a schedule is posted. We have a two page set of rules that outline expectations and behaviors for each individual player.
- We practice in the rain, the heat and the cold. Practice is on unless there is danger to the team (lighting, tornado warnings, etc.). Why? Because most teams don’t.
Situational drills can expose weaknesses that need to be addressed
With all that said, do you know your history? Do you know your finishes? Can you name your top finishes and why you finished where you did?
Did you scope the teams you will play at an event? Did you see how they breakout, how strong their guns were, where their guns were, what bunkers they frequent, what part of the field they push, what particular player(s) like to do and when? What’s their pit like, their demeanor? How do they handle being up or down points? Are they aggressive, defensive? How so?
The point of all of this is simple. What are YOU doing to put the odds in your favor? Will it be business as usual until the next time you have to blame a ref? “It’s supposed to rain this weekend guys so practice is cancelled.” “Most of the guys can only afford half a case, so we will only practice for an hour this weekend.” Or will it be, “Supposed to rain this weekend guys. Might as well learn how to play in it since I am sure we will enter an event where it’s raining at least once this year!” “Several of the guys can only afford half a case this weekend. Let’s come up with some drills to get the most out of that or maybe we can pool paint to make it go further.” You get the picture. You better. You’re drawing it.
Food for thought. Peace to all the teams who work hard and try their best every day. We salute you.