How To Start A
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
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