Coaching Sessions – Project ‘Jeez’

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I never thought I would end up being a coach. With my competitive nature and selfish desire to win, I would rarely give out any advice. Even if I did, I didn’t believe they would be able to understand it the way I understood it. Or, if they didn’t implement it, I questioned if it was worth my time in the first place. However, as time went by, things definitely changed.

Being surrounded by people who either had great potential or victim mindsets sparked a flame in me. Winning stopped being the biggest desire, and helping steer players down the right path took it’s place.

I have coached many players, in many different games. Seen a myriad of results that both myself and my players have been very proud of. After a long break, I am happy to say that I am back at it again.

Zechariah Berry
From the Smash 4 days

I am going to take you through this journey. Mixed with videos of progress, chat logs, etc. Note, this journey can abruptly end. I cannot want it more than the player I coach.  So with all of that out of the way….

Introducing: Jeez

I was invited into a Facebook group created for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate mentors. The group’s goal, as I see it, is to have select mentors build short profile pages. Then, players looking for a coach or a mentor have the ability to message these mentors if they fit their needs. From there, they are taken down a 7 week course that has outlined goals set out each week.

It’s a great idea, and has been well implemented. Within a day of having my profile up, Jeez reached out to me.

I took the first initial step outside of introductions and jumped straight into the questions.

Facebook Chat

Using the same method as I outlined in Setting Your Benchmark, I asked all the important initial questions.

You will also see that he responds with little hesitation to the questions. That is incredibly helpful as a coach. So if you are being coached, try to be as specific and confident in your answer as he is.

His overall goal is to have a great run in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Although he has more experience in other games, he wants to take this one to the big stage.

The Specifics

After we outlined his overall goals, we moved into specific conversations about the game. What character do you play? Why do you play that character? How do you feel that character fits in the overall meta?

Facebook chat

There are a few more layers to these questions than just figuring out his preference. I’m gauging his understanding of the game. Seeing if he has a victim mindset around his character, and I’m also checking maturity. Although maturity doesn’t always translate to skill, I have found a common thread between the two.

We did a lot of chatting about performances and characters after this point. But the main thing we needed to do was play. However, I was on vacation at the time. I include this because it’s an important lesson for players who want to be coached. Although I was on vacation, Jeez maintained his patience, gratitude and understanding. He did this without even seeing me play, or knowing anything about me. It won’t always work out the way you want it to, but being flexible and coach-able goes a really long way to your success.

The First Session

I like to start my training sessions off just by playing normally. I don’t play dumb in an effort to see if my player is going to pick up on any habits. It’s less of a test and more of an assessment. To me it’s better to just play it naturally, see what I can, and focus on what my player says to me. If they are nervous or embarrassed. If they are questioning my ability or not. Things like that are more valuable than “Did my player recognize that I rolled 5 times in a row”. In this state, they are working to impress their coach, and also perform, not observe habits.

We played our first match and even though I three stocked him, I was relieved to see that he had a higher skill floor than I anticipated. Here is the first stock from our first match.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about what went wrong in these matches. But just looking at this first stock, you can see the nervousness and panic. He was showing a lot of bad habits. A lot of rolling, and ultimately moving without purpose.

Like in all of these training situations, players typically want to try other characters quickly to either impress, or see if they have a better chance.

Facebook chat

We played quite a few matches from this point, all with similar results. However, he maintained his composure and excitement all the way through, which impressed me.

Facebook Chat

This is pivotal to your improvement. You won’t always have a patient coach, so it’s important to help them by making what you do in the game the obstacle, instead of letting your emotions be the obstacle.

The First Night Wrap Up

We closed our night with a best 3 out of 5 set. Putting my players into tournament settings after a long practice session is important. Not only does it help them to get focused again, but I also demonstrate to them a different level of play in that environment. I believe by doing that, it helps set their sights on a new obstacle down the road.

After everything was done, this is how I summed up the night.

Facebook Chat

Ultimately deciding that his habits can only be fixed if we can remove some of the feelings from the game, and make it more systematic. To do this, I suggested he pick a character, and stick to it. Regardless of his previous results.

Day 2

This section is going to be much smaller than the first. I want to show you the results of commitment, good energy, and an active focus. I also want to show you how quickly improvement can be made. From both a playing perspective, and from how you feel about your ability.

Early the next morning this message is sent.

Facebook Chat

He settled on a character, and I gave him some homework to do in the form of video review. This combined with roughly 4 hours of practice by himself, and this is the result.

Here is the first stock from the first match of our second session.

It may not look like much, but if you watch the two videos side by side, you can see a HUGE difference in just a single day. This is credited to both Jeez’s natural ability, and moving away from the comfortable feeling of playing. The goal is to become more systematic using techniques that I have written about on this site. Setting Your Benchmark, Setting Goals, and getting the right kind of practice. This is evident in his drastic improvement.

Now that we are settled on a character, I was able to talk more about specific things needed in each match related to the character. Instead of just behaviors or habits. We ended the night like this.

Facebook Chat

Now with specific feedback, and his commitment to doing movement drills we set an expectation. You can see how the conversation changes from day 1 to day 2. It’s become more systematic and focused on specific in game changes. These are the goals of the training sessions, to truly improve upon each specific aspect of the game. But to do that, we had to first work out the desire to lose comfortably.

If you would like to watch some of the full matches from our day 1 and day 2 sessions you can find them here.

If you are a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate player and you’re looking for a mentor you should check out the Tampa Smash page.

If you would like to speak to me directly you can DM me on twitter @CzechFreeA



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.