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Old 05-19-2012, 11:42 AM #1
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Alexpotato College Paintball Stats (Part 3): Psychology

So for this post, it made sense to step away from the statistics and focus a little more on the psychology of what kind of players end up playing in college.

To do that, I'm going to present some hypothetical players and their basic motivations for playing.

Disclaimer: a lot of this is based on my 15 years of playing on/coaching college teams and is not very objective or scientific. Still, it should spark some interesting conversations.

First, we will start with Player A. His story sounds something like this:

"I started playing on the kids team of a local D1/2 team when I was 14. They were kind of disorganized but overall they had a good direction for the team and practiced if not twice a weekend then at least every other weekend. I went to all the practices, most of the regional events and eventually the PSP events on the D4/D5 team. After a while, I moved up to the D3 team and by the time I was 18 I was playing on the D2 team. This year we're bumping up to D1 and my goal is to eventually play pro."

Next, we will switch to Player B:

"I first played at a birthday party when I was 13 and then started playing with some friends of mine pretty much every weekend. We started to play some local tournaments and we lost pretty much every game we played so a lot of my friends stopped playing. However, a couple of us kept going to events and pretty soon we started to doing better. After a while, I got better and started playing with other local teams. Most of the time, the team wasn't very organized and the roster kept changing so I was usually playing with people I had never met before. Nobody was really ever in charge and it was a bunch of teenagers so whoever yelled the loudest decided what was happening."

Finally, here is Player C:

"I played high school football/basketball/soccer/hockey etc for four years and first played paintball when I was 16/17 at a birthday party. I played with my friends for a couple years and we entered a local tournament or two but that's pretty much it."

In over 15 years of coaching, as soon as your club hears that Player A is going to their school then everyone goes into "OMG!!! Our roster is going to be soooo sick! We will stomp everyone". I don't know how it is at other schools but historically at Rutgers, Player A never ends up coming to practice and only comes to events once in a while (if ever). On the other hand, the Player Cs of the world start coming to every practice and three years later they are running the club. The question is: how does this happen?

To answer that question, think about the differences between college paintball and non-college paintball:

COLLEGE:
Cons
-Limited pool of players aka only people that go to your school
-Limited amount of time aka everyone graduates or drops outs
-Generally, more red tape/paper work as you are dealing with a school

Pros
-Consistent set of players due to a limited pool of players
-Tend to be more organized otherwise school won't give you funding
-More time spent on teamwork and improving players
-Easier to reach the "peak" of college paintball than non-college.

NON COLLEGE:
Cons
-Consistent set of players due to a limite pool of players
-Less time spent on teamwork and improving players as it's easier to find new players
-Less organized as you can generally throw together a team rather easily
-Harder to reach the "peak" of non-college.

Pros
-Much larger pool of players
-Higher level of play all the way up to Pro
-Newer players can learn from more experienced players

If you are Player A, you've already dedicated a large part of your life to non-college paintball. It's rational for you to say to yourself: "I want to get to pro. How is playing with bunch of Player Bs and Cs going to help me get to Pro?". You only have a limited amount of time to get to that level before a full time job, life etc starts to impede on your playing time.

Player B on the other hand is a little different. On the one hand, they've already been playing for 4-5 years and they've gotten some pretty good experience. That coupled with the fact that they have passed the "natural selection" of:

a. sticking to the sport even though they lost a lot in the beginning and
b. that they were able to pick up the enough skills with little or no coaching that it was fun/rewarding enough to keep playing

makes them great additions to your team. On the other hand, after 4-5 years of playing in the wild west that is non-college paintball it is very likely that they are suffering from paintball burnout. They are tired of playing with people they don't know on teams that are all over the place. Also, while they tend to have very good individual skills e.g. snapshooting & laning, their teamwork skills are usually pretty bad as they have rarely played with anyone long enough to build any kind of team rapport.

Which leaves us with Player C. From a purely experience point of view, you would pretty much always want to take Player B over Player C. Player B comes in with 3-4 more years of experience compared to usually 1-2 for player C. However, Player C isn't suffering from the burnout of Player B. To them, this whole paintball thing is brand new. Plus, they get to extend their team sport thing going forward into college. This in turn means they are good at team based skills and communicate well. Historically for Rutgers, we've found these people tend to make the best officers over time.

As we pointed out in post #2, having a team of all D5 players (Player C) isn't really going to get you very far. However, given that there are only about 300 people actively playing on Pro and D1 teams then having a bunch of Player As isn't likely either (unless you are U of Nebraska - Omaha). In other words, given that for a school of about 30,000 students (average state school), odds are that there are:

-probably no Player As
-15 Player B's
-150 or so Player C's

and a lot of those players probably end up not playing when they are in school then what is a college club president/coach to do?

Well, my guess is that each school will find its own mix of Player Bs and Player Cs. From our experience, Player Bs are usually interested in playing in a more structured organized environment where they get to hang out and play with the same people on a regular basis. If you can build that kind of organization with your Player Cs then that should help you attract more high quality players over time. Plus, if you can keep the Player Cs for a couple years, by the time they are seniors, they will be medium quality Player Bs.

Hopefully, these are all things that you've seen/thought of before but no one has ever put in one place.

Last edited by Alex Elliott : 05-19-2012 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 05-21-2012, 11:02 AM #2
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Good post. Organization of the team really does help make the team better but also helps draw in the better players
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:54 PM #3
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This post is very true. In my college team, we are a mix of B and C players. We have a mix of 15 guys (maybe 3 to 5 B level and the rest C). Typically it seems like our best six are there at events and practices together. In the four events that our "A" team played only 7 guys played on that team. 5 of which played multiple events for that squad. As the year went on we found ourselves playing better as a team (as expected) but weren't finishing as high as we previously had. This fall we have at least 6 of those 7 returning that I know of.

For me personally I was that C player back in high school that got burnt out on baseball, football, and basketball... Wanted something new and learned fast, played a lot of regional and local stuff and then started playing 5 man had a lot more fun with that than I ever did with one ball sports.

Another good thing about paintball at school is we actually have a place to meet and get stuff accomplished in a meeting. For having a small pool to pick from we have put together a team that can hang with some good PSP D4 teams when we run points at practice.

Thought you might like to hear about your theory in a small school of 7000 people.

Here's a next topic for you possibly- how much better are teams that have access to a field at their campus or let's say a 15 minute commute from a field?

We have to drive two hours for a field and people to play. (there are something we can do on campus such as work on break outs sliding diving and other drills that we don't shoot paint for but it sucks to have to drive four hours on a Sunday and play then have to study.)

Feel free to comment. Good stuff keep it up.
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Old 05-21-2012, 11:19 PM #4
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Santa Clara University's team is primarily B and C players with 1 player that would fall under the category of A. It is pretty much as you described it. The B and C players show the dedication while the A player shows up whenever he feels like it. Unfortunately, our pool to draw from only consists of approximately 5,500 students so it is even hard to field a 5 man team.
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Old 05-22-2012, 04:31 AM #5
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i think setting your self into the motions with the school team before actually attending is a great way to become consistent with the team. I would put myself in player a's shoes but i also met and started practicing with fgcu (the school i attend now) when I was still in high school. I think most if not all of our players can be player A's. Draw from the local kids at your fields, promote the school and paintball at the same time!
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:32 AM #6
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Well said
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Old 05-22-2012, 04:50 PM #7
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Don't underestimate the effect of practice. You can turn B and C players who "get" paintball into A players pretty quick with a good practice program, very importantly having someone around to tell newer players how to play better (it helps a lot if they are not also playing otherwise you risk just having a blame-fest.)

Back in the day we used to drive 45-minutes to an hour to practice; we were good even though most of our players were new to competitive paintball when they joined the team because we played other teams that were better than we were and we had a program in place to impart knowledge fast. When a new player doesn't have to discover on their own basics like keep the gun up, keep the feet in, when to move, how to tell where your opponents are shooting, etc, then they can ramp up fast.

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Old 05-23-2012, 01:56 PM #8
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The question is: Do I bench the B/C Player who has come to every practice, every conditioning, and every team meeting to play the A player who has no interest in being part of the college program?

I think the heart of it gets to building a legacy program versus getting the best chance of winning a particular tournament.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on that issue.

PS Great series of threads, Alex. Looking forward to what's next.
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Old 05-23-2012, 04:38 PM #9
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...

PS Great series of threads, Alex. Looking forward to what's next.
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Old 05-23-2012, 05:26 PM #10
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UMDpaintball,

In my experience as president of the club at Iowa State, we had a couple of players who I would classify as A players. these guys would show up late to practice, not help set up or tear down at the end, etc. They may have hands down been the most skilled individuals, but lacked chemistry. These all-stars are also the guys who (when they did play an event) would try to superstar it and win a game all alone. We eventually stopped asking them to show up for practice. I would much rather take the field with the guys that have heart and care about the team. That "gel" factor. If I can enjoy a bro's company for a beer on friday night, I know damn well that he'll have my back on Saturday morning.
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Old 05-24-2012, 08:39 PM #11
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Very interesting read and good starting point for discussion.

To mirror what Chris said, don't just overlook the "C" players. I prefer them. More more coachable, and they won't take constructive criticism as a shot to their personality (like some player A types would).

To answer the question about sitting "A" players, who don't commit, compared to "C" players, who are always around, I will pick the C players all the time. As much as I love to win, and winning is "fun", etc., just for school purposes and to run a more legitimate program I would run it like I was coached during say soccer. I may have been one of the better starters, but if I didn't show up to practice then you know I wasn't playing in the next game.

I think that kind of mentality will build a longer-lasting, stronger program. Which I think if one of the reasons that NCPA Paintball works so well.
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:16 PM #12
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UB was mostly B and C players when I first joined, but during our freshman year a type A player joined up. He had years and years of experience in the AXBL and other x-ball leagues, but what made him different was that he never lost the drive and passion that the B and C players had. In 3 short years, he was able to teach us how to play x-ball, not just paintball, and molded a bunch of derps into a championship winning team. Also practice isnt the only thing that helps grow a team. We usually only practice about two to three times a month, but when we cant make it to a field were all usually just hanging together. Cohesion between teammates can make a world of difference.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:30 PM #13
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...You can turn B and C players who "get" paintball into A players pretty quick with a good practice program
...
Back in the day we used to drive 45-minutes to an hour to practice; we were good even though most of our players were new to competitive paintball when they joined the team because we played other teams that were better than we were and we had a program in place to impart knowledge fast.
I think this is the biggest difference between when Chris and I used to play (late 90's to early 00's) and now. Back then, you could take someone who had never played or at most played only rec ball and in one year they would be a pretty decent mid level college player.

Now it seems the average skill level of college players has shot up to the point that it takes 2-3 years to get someone to the mid level. I think this is a combination of:

a. paintball really exploded in the mid-00's so we're seeing the result of lots of kids who started playing 5-6 years ago who are now much more experienced
b. the increase in regional x-ball leagues e.g. AXBL that have started pumping out experienced players.
c. sponsorship dollars going down due to the economy so now there are fewer D2/D3 teams willing to front costs for players.
d. the NCPA becoming more prestigious and attracting more attention so better players see it as a way to more quickly get recognition/national media coverage.

Not sure how those all are weighted.

Chris is still correct though, if I had to distill college paintball down into one sentence it would be:

Build a system to make people better at paintball as fast as possible and then get them to stay with your team till they graduate.

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Old 05-26-2012, 12:37 PM #14
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The question is: Do I bench the B/C Player who has come to every practice, every conditioning, and every team meeting to play the A player who has no interest in being part of the college program?.
This is actually why we started keeping track of player stats at practice at Rutgers. We had a couple players who were A players (or tried to convince us they were) who played at our first event and we didn't do that well.

Since we had played what we thought were our best players and not had a good result I wanted to find out how good were these players really? On a related question, could B/C players who played a lot together equal A players who had never played together? And ideally: who really were our best players?

Those questions turned out to be harder to answer than we thought but it did spark off a more systematic way of tracking stats and evaluating who we had.

What we found is that the better B players were amazing at 3v3s. You could literally put a good B guy with two rec ballers and they would routinely beat mid level B level players. However, they tended to fall part in 5v5 match ups which led us to figure out that they were good in situations where one person could control the outcome of a game but not so good in situations where the only way to win was through teamwork. This makes sense given the fact that most of the B guys had never really played consistently with the same group of people (as mentioned in the first post).

When we lookd at laning, run and gunning etc we eventually concluded that it wasn't quite so linear e.g. Some of the C players laned at an A level but always seemed to lose gun battles and vice versa. In other words, everyone had something they could improve on.

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Old 05-28-2012, 07:23 PM #15
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I still think you can make good teams with good coaching fairly quick. I'll agree that player talent in the league is definitely much higher than it was when we started, but...

...man, some of the teamwork skills are still pretty bad. I found it almost painful to watch some of the Class A matches at nationals of some of our supposedly very good teams and see teams failing to do basic team play stuff like splitting the field or not sending one player at a time to run down the last opponent.

Definitely quite a few teams that had a lot of talented players who were not playing well together at all.

But, even on the talent level, there are very, very, very few people who practice paintball more than once or maybe twice a week. Compare that to any other sport where training is a DAILY affair. If you take completely new players and train the way you did for high school sports (and this is where the C players come in handy - they're not going to find that odd) you can get a player more experience in a year than most D2 players have, especially if you're making sure their practice is focused and productive (i.e. not just scrimmaging, but technical drills as well.)

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Old 05-29-2012, 02:26 AM #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UMDpaintball View Post
The question is: Do I bench the B/C Player who has come to every practice, every conditioning, and every team meeting to play the A player who has no interest in being part of the college program?

I think the heart of it gets to building a legacy program versus getting the best chance of winning a particular tournament.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on that issue.

PS Great series of threads, Alex. Looking forward to what's next.
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i think setting your self into the motions with the school team before actually attending is a great way to become consistent with the team. I would put myself in player a's shoes but i also met and started practicing with fgcu (the school i attend now) when I was still in high school. I think most if not all of our players can be player A's. Draw from the local kids at your fields, promote the school and paintball at the same time!
This was my 3rd year playing in the NCPA. I've seen both of the theories played out from mostly player A's to mostly player B's and C's what finally brought the championship home was a solid mix of all three, with maybe a couple more player A's that were dedicated to the team, and willing to put in the time to grind it out and bring home a National title. What it really comes down to is the commitment of the player. I can see where it can be seen that player A's who want to go pro might have a conflict of interest, but it's definitely possible to be committed to both college and non-college.

As for who you sit, you have to make a point that if you're willing to put in the time, you will get play time. Even in high school and other college sports, if you don't show up for practice you're not playing. It really separates out who actually has the drive and dedication it takes to win a tournament from who just wants to play a little discounted paintball in their free time.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:38 AM #17
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MMA was a mix of B/C players with an A player on the roster. Luckily we managed to keep everyone satisfied with their playing time and I think this largely has to do with your school size and program interest - Our school only facilitates 1500 cadets and we could onkly pull 6-7 dedicated players from that mix.
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Old 01-26-2013, 03:24 PM #18
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why isn't this pinned lol. I just found it.

From my experience , while it isn't much , I am pretty straight forward to my players. If yelling or being firm with a A type player means we lose them and don't have enough people to compete , I would rather do that then have them missing practice and such forth. I rather spend my effort training a B or C player to becoming better. I am only a freshman and I have about 5 years ish left here so I see it as I have plenty of time.
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:18 PM #19
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now how do you find a coach? that is a problem, how do you choice, age experience, what factors in to that equation.
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:55 PM #20
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I don't see how I missed this when it was posted.
I really agree with it. Some of our most consistent players never played tournament paintball before college. And we've had guys who have always played, but then quit in college.
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:39 PM #21
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now how do you find a coach? that is a problem, how do you choice, age experience, what factors in to that equation.
I think this is really three questions:

a. how do you find someone who is not a student to help keep the club going for a long time?
b. how do you find someone who can help your team get better?
c. how do you find a great on field coach?

Those three questions might be answered by the same person if you're lucky. In Rutgers case, I basically am A (I'm pretty organized and I love the club) and B (I love to teach new people how to play).

That being said, I'm only an ok on field coach so I picked one of our alumni who I know is a good player that the current guys look up to, a quick thinker and very strategic (good for knowing when to throw the towel etc).

Overall though, for A generally older people do better. This would be a great job for someone who was retired and wanted to give back/do some kind of charity work etc. They don't need to know much about paintball but should know a lot about running teams/organizations

B is probably someone who has been playing a while at the divisional level and is older and still wants to be involved but not play necessarily. It could also be a former college player who doesn't want to play any more but wants to teach newer players. They should love teaching people and be good at it.

C should ideally be someone who played college paintball recently and has a very competitive mindset. You want this person to be looked up to by the players and also be good at building rapport so people listen to them in game situations.
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