How To Start A Paintball Team
People ask “How do I start a paintball team?”, or “How does a team make it to the Pros in paintball?” all the time. Starting a team is as simple as saying “We are a team”… making it to the big leagues is hard work and dedication! There are many types of teams in paintball: tournament teams, scenario teams, casual teams, professional teams, etc. Read on to learn more about the team experience in paintball.
1) Where Do I Start?
A paintball team almost always starts the same: Two or more people discover they like playing paintball alongside each other and decide they want to take it to the next level. Sometimes this is you and a friend outside of paintball, or someone you met at the local field. Notice I said “like playing paintball alongside each other”; that part is the key. The heart and soul of a paintball team is friendship and comradery. If this doesn’t exist at its core, then a team is destined to fail.
Start small, and think baby steps. Be realistic about everyone’s commitment. Life, family, school and work come before paintball. Don’t expect to become an internationally known, sponsored and touring team if paintball has to compete against all these factors in the lives of each team member. Develop a core group that can all commit to the same level. Those with little time for the team tend to drop out, while those who have a lot more time than the others tend to move on to a team with the same.
2) Determine Your Team’s Goals and Its Attitude
Teams have different styles and different goals. Are you just starting a team for fun, play some tournaments and hang out? Do you want to build a solid group of players to roll as a ‘platoon’ in scenario games? Are you all serious competitors who want to dominate your local scene and beyond? Making sure everyone is on the same page by having a clear team mission statement helps prevent frustration and drop outs. An aggressive competitive type will quickly get bored with a casual, for fun team while a relaxed, recreational player will burn out in a domination-minded one.
3) Look Like A Team
So you now have a few like-minded individuals committed to hitting the field together. You play off each other’s strengths, communicate well, and have the same goals you want to achieve. Now, it’s time to start looking like a team! Some people think this step is putting the cart before the horse, but it is more important that many realize. Dressing and looking uniformly as a team is a big psychological and morale boost, instilling an esprit de corps among you and your teammates. Start with everyone wearing the same brand, model and color of jersey or a custom printed long sleeve shirt. Get your name and numbers transferred onto them. Look the part. The more uniform and professional you look, the more everyone will subconsciously become more focused as a team. Eventually the team should agree on a team mask, pants, etc. There is certainly room for personal touches like headbands and cleats, but jersey, pants, and mask being consistent adds that degree of professionalism and dedication that sets you apart from the pack. The more you all use the same gear, the easier it is to stock spare parts and back-up equipment. Get at least one team banner made, big enough to see from a distance. Get team pictures taken with it, have it hanging up in your staging area. This is your flag, your battle standard; be proud of it!
4) Find A Home Field
If you read our article on How To Get Sponsored In Paintball (if you haven’t then read it when you’re done here!), you should be talking to a local field about a home field arrangement by now. You need a scheduled place to play and a field owner needs consistent bodies there for business. Whatever arrangement you make with the field, be sure to uphold your end of the agreement and represent the field to the best of your abilities. This will likely be your first sponsorship, so be sure to keep the relationship strong!
5) Assign Roles & Responsibilities
If everyone is expected to be in charge of only themselves, then expect nothing to get done. Generally it is best for all team decisions to be done by group vote. One person needs to be appointed as Team Captain, who can be the point of contact for the team at an event. This person should be a good leader and negotiator. Another member needs to be a Point of Contact for people wishing to contact the team. Logically, this person is usually managing the team’s website, social media and emails as well. If not every team member, then at least two should train in depth on maintaining markers and equipment. It also makes sense for these members to develop a checklist of team and player equipment, be responsible for the team equipment, and hound the other members to keep after their personal kit! Depending on team size some of these roles can overlap, but be sure that one person is not doing all of it!
6) Play Regularly But Don’t Burn Out
Practice makes perfect; sounds cliché but it’s true. Get on to a regular training schedule. Don’t just play paintball but actively train and practice individual aspects of the game. The sheer amount of info on training techniques and drills is well beyond the scope of this article, but develop a routine and stick to it. Record the results and discuss them as a team. Always end the day with a few regular, not serious at all games, to remember that the reason you do this is for fun.
Make it a point to learn something new from every scrimmage game. Play against teams that are better than you, as that’s the only way you get better. You will learn more losing to a good team than winning against a poor one. Discuss it as a team; determine your strengths and weaknesses, so you can work on your weak points.
When you sign up for a tournament or scenario series, be prepared to commit for the entire season. Get the schedule and the budget prepared early, so there are no excuses other than emergency for missing an event. Try to play events outside of your local area. You will learn and be challenged by new teams rather than the ones you see every weekend, and your reputation will expand. .. that is, if you give a good first impression!
7) Do Activities Outside Of Paintball As A Team
Set up a regular team bowling night, or fishing day. Form a softball team, or everyone go to the movies. Get out, hang out, and have fun outside of the paintball environment. This builds comradery, team spirit and helps everyone get to know their fellow teammates better. Wear a team t-shirt, or matching clean jerseys; this helps attract more people to the sport and impresses potential sponsors. It just might help recruit your next player, as well.
Stand up for your team, but be mindful of the fact that paintball is a small world. What anyone on the team says and does is a reflection of the team as a whole. Trash talking another team, a local business, or another field can have serious consequences down the road. Acting professional, courteous, and showing good sportsmanship regardless of the situation will open doors for you in the future. The best player on your team still drags everyone down if he or she is a loudmouthed jerk. Being stand-up, reliable and all-around cool people will get your team farther than a crew of trash talkers.
9) Stick With It And Have Fun
The hallmark of a great paintball team is not counted in victories but in longevity. A good team will endure victory and defeat, flush times and hardship, ups and downs, and still keep grinding along while a poor team crumbles and falls apart. Teammates will move on due to commitments outside paintball, fields and store sponsors may close, economic hardships can place a heavy burden on playing time… a solid paintball team will change and adapt to keep competing at their highest ability with the resources available.
More than anything, a team thrives on two things… friendships and fun. Without that, there is no reason to play on a paintball team!