Some of the best paintball events are team-based. From competitive brackets to squad-based milsim situations, having a strong team can grant you far more opportunities than you’d get from just showing up as a solo player on an average day. Building a team may not be easy, but can take you far. Follow these tips, and you should get your crew up and running in time for the next big match.
Tips to Build a Successful Paintball Team
Start with Players You Know
While many of the best teams take applications and tryouts from players who are virtually unknown to them, they usually start with a core group of friends and acquaintances that then slowly expand their group. If you’ve been playing paintball for a while and stay active in your local community, you probably already know more than a couple of other people who you enjoy playing with and already coordinate paintball outings with. If at all possible, you should try to get a couple of these guys to serve as the starting base for your team.
Having a pre-established group makes you more attractive to newcomers who might be interested in the team and, of course, allows you to know the types of people you’re playing with. Over time, your original members may grow less interested in the team, but hopefully, by then you’ll have expanded your group and be able to function without them.
Focus on Personality Over Skills
Professional military organizations like the US Army prioritize unit cohesion over the performance of any individual soldier in their ranks. A good team relies more on the rapport between members than how well anyone can aim or make plays. When scouting out potential members, you should first consider how they act and whether they’d get along with you before looking at their skills.
Of course, some people are super friendly, but just do not have the skill necessary in a competitive environment. Don’t be afraid to deny them, but only if they’re super bad. You can help to train someone’s skills to be much better, but if their personality sucks, that’s a lot harder to repair.
I’ve seen tons of teams that claim to be ultra-competitive while only practicing a few times per year outside of tournament days. I’ll let you guess how they compare to teams that practice and work on their skills in their off-time. The reality of being competitive is that regular practice is not only helpful but a requirement. Getting out every other weekend or more to run drills with your teammates and work on individual skills should help you to function better as a squad and perform stronger as an individual.
Even simple exercises like practicing basic military troop movements can help you function better as a team (plus give you an advantage in milsim games). Or, spend some time in the woods or your backyard practicing with targets. Don’t just sit there and plink away, try and shake things up by creating scenarios or challenges. Having your team work together on these exercises can translate to greater fluidity in an actual tournament. It might seem a bit lame to gear up and shoot targets, but these are the sorts of exercises that top teams practice almost every day.
How do you stop individual team members from dragging others behind them? The answer is simple – enforce uniform standards on everyone, whether they are new members or longtime friends. These should be easy standards to attain while still serving as a strong baseline for the performance you expect from your team. Make people run a mile in under eight or nine minutes if stamina is a problem for some of your teammates. Make sure they can hit a target at a moderate distance with their own equipment. Having base standards for your team makes sure that your people know what is expected of them and where they need to improve if they want to stay competitive.
Go to Lots of Events
Setting up and running a team means nothing if you don’t get out and play together. Your team will only languish and fall apart if you don’t put yourselves on the roster for lots of local (and potentially even road trip distance) paintball tournaments and events. Plus, every match you play in represents practice for you and your team. Don’t be one of “those guys” I see who always talk about having a team yet never show up with them – get out there and BE a team.
Paintball teams accomplish so much more than individual players (or ragtag groups of friends) ever could. But, with so much work going into the successful creation and management of the average team, it may not be the best choice for most players looking to get a competitive edge. Joining an existing team before starting your own can give you helpful experience and knowledge, as well as contacts with tons of highly skilled players in your area. That’s what I did, and I enjoyed my time there, and I hope you do, too.