Many people come to the tournament talk forum looking to find a team or recruit players for their own. This guide will help you get what you want and do it the easiest way. Before we start, please know that this forum, tournament talk, is not for recruitment or events.
It's for general tournament discussion such as strategies, organizational skills, and preparation. Questions about rules for your local league, requests for teams, or flyers for local events belong in the regional forums. That being said, let's talk about how you can find a team.
Since the vast majority of posts about this are for tournament play, we'll assume you want to play tournaments. We're also going to assume that you have a basic understanding of major formats (5-man, 7-man, etc) and the flow of team practice. If you don't, go to youtube and watch videos of the PSP (5-man)/NPPL (7-man) events. Contact your local field(s) and find out when they hold team practice. Show up and watch so you know how it works.
The regional forums
tend to have threads stuck to the top of each page made for the sole purpose of listing free agents and team tryouts. This is the first place to look. There will usually be two threads for this - one "free agent" thread where individual players can post up their info to be contacted by existing teams, and a "team tryout" thread that recruiting teams use to share information about tryouts and what they're looking for.
Lesson 1: Give other people the information they need to understand what you want.
All too often, players make posts or threads saying something like "I'm _____, I need a team" and neglect to mention who they are, where they're located, or what they want to play. You may know all of this, but someone that doesn't know you already has no idea and will likely pass over you without a second thought. It doesn't matter if you're an amazing division 1 snake player if you're in California and I need a division 3 dorito player in New York.
Your post in a free agent thread should include information like this:
Location (city, state, and home field)
Experience (Years playing, any leagues you've played, past teams, etc)
Availability (When and where you can play)
Transportation (Do you have a car, or a dependable ride?)
to your profile* (make a free account if you haven't already)
Formats you play (PSP, NPPL, etc)
Clear picture of yourself playing, ideally without anyone else in it to avoid confusion of who's who.
Best way to contact you.
*When posting an APPA link, do not just copy/paste the link at the top of your browser - this will not load properly. Your profile page should have a direct link for you to use.
Lesson 2: Present yourself as someone who deserves to be taken seriously.
When you make your free agent post, you don't want teams to write you off as a kid or someone who doesn't know how recruitment works. You want something that's organized, easy to read, and gives teams the information they need to decide if they need you. What does this mean?
1. Proper grammar. No shortcuts like "u" for you or 4 for "for".
2. No run on sentences. Don't string together the entire information list in one lower case sentence with no periods or spaces.
3. Don't talk about sponsorships or free ****. It looks selfish and greedy.
4. Don't give a list of all the upgrades on your gun. Real tournament players won't care what you have - it's a mark of inexperience to share it. The only time a legitimate team will ask what gear you own is when they're deciding if you need to buy sponsor gear because yours is a different brand. This comes after tryouts and all other matters have been settled.
Lesson 3: Use the resources available to you in your search for a team.
The first place to look is always going to be the regional forums. Visit the forum for your state and look for a team tryout thread at the top of the page. Read the recent posts and see if there's a team looking for someone like you. If there is, send them a PM with the info listed above and anything else they request in the thread.
The second place to look is classic networking. Do you have friends on tournament teams? If so, ask them if they know any teams that need a player, even if it's only for one event. When you have this conversation, assume there is not a spot for you on your friend's team unless they offer it. It puts them in an awkward position if they have to turn you away because you're not experienced enough or the roster is full.
Lesson 4: Don't limit yourself to the forums when you want to find a team.
The best place to find a team that consistently plays is to contact your local field(s) and find out when they hold team practice. Don't forget to ask if they know any teams that are recruiting as well. More often than not, there will be times during team practice when a team is short a player, or there are enough guys floating around to make a practice squad out of people like you that don't have a team yet. It's much easier for teams to put a face with a name and remember that you actually showed up to play than it is to judge a faceless forum account in the free agent thread.
If you get to play with an existing team, be social. Chit chat after the point but don't be clingy. They may ask who you play for, or who you're here with. That's your opportunity to say that you're here to find a team. If they have an opening, they may ask you to stick around.
If you play with a grab bag of free agents, that doesn't mean you're screwed. It can present a special opportunity for you. When an experienced team plays a line of throw togethers, they expect to win. If you stand out as the guy that played really well in spite of being at a disadvantage having played with guys you don't know, the other teams will notice. After each game, ask guys on the other team what you did well or need to work on. Don't make it a formal thing or ask for an elaborate breakdown of what you did. Just make it a simple question like "hey, I've been trying to work on snap shooting. Were my snapshots getting close last game?" that makes it clear you want to improve but you aren't going to be annoying. It's a yes or no answer unless they want to talk to you more. Good players are always happy to tell you what they noticed if you're polite in asking, and the more you talk with them, the more familiar you become to the teams at your local field.
Lesson 5: What gear do you actually need for tournament play?
Many new players get obsessed with upgrading their gear and think the gear will determine who they play for. In reality, this is what you really need for tournament play:
1. Electronic marker with eyes and 12.5bps PSP ramping.
2. Compressed air tank. Do not run a remote line and put the tank in your pack.
3. Electronic hopper that can feed 12.5bps - pretty much all of them these days.
4. Vertical pack that holds at least 5 pods.
5. Mask with thermal lens. All the major brands have quality offerings.
6. Elbow pads.
7. Paintball pants.
As you may have noticed, I was not specific in what brand(s) or upgrades you need. That's because they don't matter. You need a gun that shoots 12.5bps without chopping often and the soft goods to keep you safe. That's it. Anything else like brand-specific sponsor gear will be addressed after you've been picked up by a team. You'll probably sell any conflicting brand gear and use the money to buy sponsor gear. It's perfectly normal and it's nothing to worry about.
Finding a team can be a challenging experience if you haven't done it before. If you present yourself well and communicate with teams around you, it won't be a big deal. Keep an open mind, be respectful, and do your best to improve every time you set foot on the field. One way or another you will find another team, and chances are, it won't be your last. Build up your experience, make new friends on as many teams as you can, and have fun.