In part 2 and 3 of our 6 Week eSports Improvement Plan we went over the Reflection and Measure weeks of impact. During those weeks we modified the amount of time spent playing and supplemented it with video review. During those two weeks you should have seen the most improvement. As well as developed a new skill in regards to replay review.
As we go through the last part of the 6 Week improvement plan, we will be covering week 4. With each week we add new elements to your training that go beyond just playing. These elements are important for continuing your improvement after the 6 weeks are over. They can easily be overlooked without a coach. Before we jump into what makes week 4 different. Let’s address these new elements.
Throughout the 6 week improvement plan you have been tasked with more than just playing. You have had to set benchmarks, goals, and measure your performance. You’ve also had to do personal replay review and professional replay review.
These tasks have levels of skill that are separate from your performance skill. Individually they can be enhanced and improved upon in the same way that you improve your performance. For example, the better you are at replay analysis, the more information you can apply to your performance. The more specific you make your goals, the more achievable they are. It can even be a measure of your emotional resilience, and how well you’ve bolstered yourself. All of these elements require a focus throughout the 6 weeks and beyond.
Consider this, your goals and improvements don’t end after 6 weeks. However throughout this process, you will inevitably run into road blocks and feel as though you have no answers. That’s where the focus on the subtle skills are important. For instance, if you’re reviewing a replay, and you’re not feeling or seeing anything that helps you improve. Then you need to look harder, pose better questions to yourself. Focus in on specific aspects of the replay. Essentially learning how to review replays more efficiently. Coaches only focus on these subtle skills because they aren’t the ones in the drivers seat. This is why they are able to see the things that you can often miss. As you improve, it’s important to adapt a ‘coaches mindset‘ and hone in on these subtle skills, especially when you’re out of answers and your improvement has tapered.
You will notice that week 4 is highlighted in green, despite being exactly the same as week 3. Indeed you will follow the same schedule as you have before. Benchmark, goals, reflection. 2 hours of play, 30 minutes of personal replay, and 30 minutes of professional replay for 4 days. One challenge day, one break and one free day. However, week 4 is what I call the Experiment week. This week is dedicated to getting even further away from your comfort zone.
By the time you reach week 4, a few things have typically happened. Your improvement has hit a plateau or ceiling. You may even be growing tired from the rigidity of the schedule. Despite those things, you have become efficient in the core aspects of your game. Movement, strategy, execution, etc. Leading you to repeat the same optimal options during each session. Although they are optimal, and in theory should be working each time, you may find that something is still missing. At this point, you need to change it up, and experiment.
This can be particularly difficult during this stage of your improvement. You have made progress, studied yourself, and the professionals. Your mind can be hard focused on retaining your current rank or placements. But to improve you have to be willing to experiment at the risk of losing. Otherwise you run the risk of becoming comfortable in repetition. Or worse, you fall into the mindset of playing not to lose. As opposed to playing to win.
There is no one size fits all method for experimentation. It can mean something different to each player and each game. For example, it can mean playing a different character. It can mean taking a different route, or using a different load out. Or it can be the act of taking chances in positions you normally wouldn’t. (This typically being the scariest of all)
Those forms of experimentation can drive your brain into a place of fear. They play with your confidence. However, something that we have learned is that if you don’t explore that fear and discomfort, it can show itself at the worst moments. It’s always there, even if you’re not aware of it.
Have you ever wondered how the professionals can be so comfortable going for such risky plays? Or how they have such insanely clutch moments? It’s because they have ascended passed their comfortability. They have worked hard on the fundamentals, and have placed themselves in positions outside of their comfort zone enough times to not only learn from them, but become comfortable in their discomfort. That at it’s core is the essence of playing to win, instead of playing to not lose.
Experimentation allows you to gain perspective on yourself and the game as a whole. In team games, it can help you have a better understanding of synergy. In solo games, it can help you understand your opponents. Among many other perspectives that you will gain. The fear of losing what you have worked hard to gain, but choosing to experiment anyway will help you build self-trust. Experimentation is a subtle skill, that has it’s pitfalls and needs to be improved like the other skills. It is possible to develop bad habits during experimentation, and it is also possible to gain nothing from experimenting. It’s up to you to identify what has the most impact on your play when you return to your optimal position.
The combination of subtle skills and your new found awareness to their importance can create pressure for you. Try not to allow that pressure to build. The subtle skills are simply there to help you achieve your main goal. Treat them like a side quest, if you will. Week 4 can be one of the more fun weeks if you allow it to be. You can be all the demons that you fight against each game. Play that character that frustrates you, or take that chance you usually don’t. Give yourself perspective, and zoom out. Whatever you lose in the short term, you will regain in the long term. Your journey is about the bigger picture.
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:
Weeks 5 and 6 will be coming soon.