For most of our posts we focus on broad aspects of competition. Mental fortitude, types of practice, and novel ideas that can help you improve. Although those things are necessary for improvement. They don’t always have the immediate practical applications. So for this post, I will be bringing you our 6 Week eSports Improvement Plan. This 6 week plan is a rough outline of a system I use when coaching players.
First I am going to show you what the 6 week eSports Improvement plan looks like, and then I’ll break down each week and the mindset you should take going in. This is going to be broken up into a few posts over the next couple of weeks.
Note: Weeks 4/5/6 are highlighted because the amount of time spent isn’t changing but the concepts are.
Keep in mind that this is a guideline. Everyone functions off of different schedules and time restrictions. The days are interchangeable based on your situation. Most tournaments around me happen to be on Wednesdays, and so I wrote it as such. The recommended hours of play, can also be adjusted and my reasoning will be explained throughout this post. However, the core aspects cannot be changed. I recommend a rest day or break. As well as a 2 day gap between your tournament or challenge, and your unlimited session.
Note: These concepts work for any game. These values are recommended to improve your performance, however you will need more time spent to go pro.
Start by assessing your current placement in the game you are competing in. What rank you sit at, what your tournament record is, and importantly the three pillars of improvement. You have to create an honest benchmark for yourself. Not only so you know how to start improving, but you also can recognize your improvement in the coming weeks.
The goal of this week is to tie up any loose ends in your game. Using the three pillars of improvement, grade yourself on: Execution Skill, Mental Skill, Meta Knowledge. Combine that with your current placement and you have a benchmark. Lastly look at any of the necessary specific tech that you have yet to fully master, but is used by every professional player or team. Prepare to learn it and apply it throughout your practice. For instance, rotation times, objective times, frame data.
Next, analyze your current practice efforts and compare them to this improvement plan. Are you putting in more hours or less? What time of day do you usually practice?
The goal of any improvement plan and a schedule is to bring intentionality to your play. The first time you do this, it’s going to feel strange. Like a job, or like there is a ton of pressure on you. However, that’s simply the act of bringing focus and a level of seriousness to your actions. Which is required to improve. Have your motivations in line, remember why you want to improve, and when you see the improvement it will feel worth it.
Lets start with the amount of hours of play time. 3 hours a day for 4 days. Depending on your situation, this could feel like a really short amount of time, or a really long amount of time. I choose 3 hours of play because it maximizes your learning window. As you tackle the goals that you have set based on your benchmark, you will be intently focused on every aspect of your play. Battling through your emotions and obstacles that you face in your practice environment.
Any more than 3 hours will enable you to switch goals during your session, splitting your efforts. You will also start to lose aspects of your sessions in your short term memory as you push further. Think of it like watching a movie. It can be difficult to recall everything that happened from the start of the movie to the end in the 2 hour window. Especially if you are incredibly focused on it.
I recommend taking a 5 minute break every 30 minutes to focus on your breathing. Similar to the Pomodoro Technique. As we play we tend to breathe shallow breaths. Limiting the amount of oxygen levels in our blood. Our brain can perceive that as stress and lower our cognition. The break is also useful for muscle fatigue, posture, and mental processing. It’s a good time to rehydrate, stretch and prepare for the next session.
Tournament or Challenge
One of the most important elements of improvement is pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Giving yourself a challenge or something to reach for. Challenging yourself will allow you to put your work to the test, create new benchmarks, and gain greater understanding of the game. More importantly it teaches you how to dig deeper. How to prepare your mind for pressure, and how to weigh out the concept of ‘wanting to win’ or ‘not wanting to lose’. It brings you closer to yourself and helps you gain an understanding of your limitations, your desires, and any self imposed obstacles you may have.
If there are zero tournaments for you to find, online or offline, attempt to set challenges for yourself. Winning 5 in a row, going deathless, or any other creative thing that pushes you further.
Unlimited Play Session/ 1 Day Break
Taking strategic breaks is important. Treat it as a mental rest day. I recommend doing it at the end of the week. Not only does it help your brain process all of the information from the week before. But it also builds an anticipation and desire to play the next opportunity you get. In those idle times your brain will create ideas of things to work on, concepts to try. Plus the break can just be nice sometimes. Especially if you’re struggling to reach your goals.
I also recommend doing an unlimited session at least 2 days after a challenge or tournament. The purpose of the unlimited session is to turn your brain off and just play. Try to bring some fun into your play, and be less serious in nature. This helps you strengthen the bond between your active mind and your subconscious mind. You will also build endurance, which is important in becoming more consistent as your brain shifts intensity levels. I’m not telling you to play for 12 hours, but I have learned a lot in those deep sessions after my brain has shut off.
The first week is your initiation week. It primes your brain for the improvement process. The biggest struggle that most players have with this is accountability and motivation. Often times that’s the coach’s job with the player. If you are interested in hiring your own coach:
The breakdown of weeks 2 and 3 will be coming soon.