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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Stay In The Game

Your mindset is just as important as your skill set if you want to become a great player
By Bruce 'Charon' Johnston

originally published in the November 2006 issue of Paintball Sports Magazine
We all want to become better paintballers, score more eliminations and survive to the end of every game. Great paintballers are not born they are made. Making yourself into a one person wrecking crew on the field may not be as hard as you think, but it will take time. Fortunately time is on your side if you use it wisely. To help speed your journey here are a few tips to becoming a great paintballer.

Always Be Learning
No matter how long you have played paintball you can always learn something to make your game just a little better. Before you suit up to play think to yourself "What can I learn today." No matter what happens on the field if you have learned something new you can consider it a good day.

Aim Where You Look
The difference between you being on the giving or receiving end of an elimination can be a fraction of a second. Always have your marker aiming the same direction you are looking. If a target pops out unexpectedly you can immediately shoot without needing any extra time to shift your marker, aim and fire.

Think Positive
Whether you think you can do it or you think you can't do it, you're right. The best players believe that they are invincible and can accomplish anything on the field. They never sit behind a bunker thinking "Oh man I am going to get plastered if I go out there." Instead they think "Three shots to keep their heads down then move to the tree on the left and get the drop on them." A belief in yourself and your abilities, regardless of you experience, is the most important ingredient of a veteran 'baller.

Make a Smaller Target
Never stand when you can kneel, never kneel when you and lie down. Present the smallest target possible to the other team by getting as low to the ground as you can and still have a field of view. As soon as you stop walking kneel down to look around, if there aren't too many obstructions get down on your belly. If you are a small target it will be harder for the other side to hit you. Take a look around the safe area after a game normally the amount of paint on a player is inversely proportional to the amount of dirt on their clothes. In other words people who crawl around tend not to get shot as much. Besides camouflage gear is made to get dirty so don't worry about your clothes, your mom or dad can wash them when you get home.

Move, Move, Move
Nothing will get your side torn apart like fighting a set piece battle where you are behind your bunker and they are behind theirs. This kind of stagnant exchange of fire is a recipe for disaster. If you stay in one place to long more and more of the other team are going to know where you are giving them a chance to flank you. If you fire a few balls then move then fire a few balls you will keep the other side off balance not knowing exactly where you are. Best of all if you move to a new position you should get a better angle on the other player and score more eliminations for your side. Whether you move forward, back or sideways it doesn't matter just move.

Whatever You Do, Don't Move
During a woodsball game an advancing player has no idea from which direction the paint will come so his / her eyes are constantly moving. The player has been running and breathing hard so the mask has fogged up a bit. Quickly detecting a player hidden in the bushes can be difficult at best. When you are trying to remain undetected from the other side nothing will give your position away as fast as moving. The unnatural movement of an object will catch the attention of any player and make them turn toward you. If you want to let the player go past or let them get in closer before springing your trap don't move.

Watch Your Lines
Very rarely will you find straight lines in nature so think about what is a straight line on you. Your marker, visor on your mask and your barrel are a few. Use some simple tricks to break up your outline. You can wrap some burlap around your barrel and hopper or put a small piece of camouflage netting over your head. Anything to break up the outline and make you NOT look like a paintballers when you are in the woods.

Makeshift Flatline
We have all been in situations where we can see the other team's player but we just can't reach him because the tree branches are preventing a lob shot. This is a perfect job for a Flatline or Apex. Unfortunately the barrel is still in the car. If you need to flatline only one shot here is a really old school trick. Lick the end of your finger and scrape it on the top of the barrel just inside the muzzle. When you shoot, the paintball will hit that little bit of spit and put back spin on the ball just like a flatline. It will only work for one, maybe two, shots but it does work. That is of course providing you don't shoot the end of your finger off while it is in the end of the barrel.

Watch and Learn
No matter how long you have played there is always someone on the field who is better then you. Watch the more experienced players and copy what they do. There is no substitute for actual game experience but you can speed up your learning, and eventual mastery, of the game by watching what works and repeating successful techniques over and over again. 

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