Retreat to go forwards?

Retreat to go forwards? Defense is the best form of attack? What got you here won’t get you there?

While Dave struggles with the opening line for this article, lets cut to the meat of this article – do you think in terms of position? Does your team know when they have the positional advantage, to exploit it, or when they need to re-position?

If you are just letting the game of paintball (any format) you are playing unfold in front of you, then you need to fix up and look sharp. You are playing for advantage. At all times. That advantage can be the G count, the points lead in XBall, for position, or any other advantage you can bring to bear (mental advantages exist too – especially over a season or a multi-point match). It is position that has got me flustered today as, especially in woodsball, this is where I see a big gap of improvement that teams can take advantage of.

Case in point is the Outlanders – these guys won the UKWM Team of the Year award in 2018 and to be frank their results have been a lot worse than they look. They look pretty good when you see them play, sure they have a few rough edges but they are a lot of the way there.

One thing they don’t seem to get yet is how to work with position. At round 5 I saw this go two ways, an early death left them clumped together on the newly upgraded corner field. They knew they were down a body but no one took charge* to re-position their team to attack with 4 bodies.

*If you’ve read some of my earlier articles you’ll know I refer to the playmaker role, someone who moves the chess pieces of your team based on how the game is unfolding. This doesn’t have to be one person, it can be any person at any time and the key to this is someone stepping to the fore and starting it.

Equally, the Outlanders also made a HUGE bite in the finals – breaking to the near tape 50 and living – a move that NO OTHER team had attempted, let alone succeeded in 38 games of play. So great, you made the 50… what happens now. First of all, Mr Ings – you can celebrate after the game – now you need to breathe, get your gun up and work some kills out smartly. Staying alive is IMPORTANT as you are now being watched by a couple of the opposition. Don’t believe me, watch the paint coming past you from different angles – on the end of that paint are different players looking your way. A cheap death only benefits the opposition.

Now the Outlanders have some space to push position elsewhere on the field, why not creep into the middle and bait out some of those guys gunning at the 50. Watch Mr Ings and you’ll get a feel for what heat he is coming under, keep him calm, alive and get your creep on.
Working on position is for every team, in every game. And if you have experience this is definitely an area you need to trust your gut. Darron Doherty is an experienced player by any measure and he spent a good while in a game at round 5 asking Gazza if he should go to the far tape. It doesn’t stop there, Marcus did the same at round 4 playing against Nemesis. In the time they spent thinking, and talking about re-positioning, they could have gone to the other tape and checked it out, then come back again. Trust your gut.

Hopefully that makes sense – paintball is a glorified game of chess in any format – and being someone that reacts quickly or drives the game as it unfolds is a needed quality. Not sure how to apply this? Have an out of body experience, float up 50m and try and look down on the field as you play the game – where are you, where is your team, where are the opposition? Where do you need to be?

Watch out for more rhetorical questions in the off season


David Simpson
How to get BETTER… FASTER!

How to get BETTER… FASTER!

After the recent UK Woodland Masters practice day, and with the start of the 2018 season less than two months out, I’ve sat down to write out some thoughts on how teams can get better – and do it faster. You may not be sure what your team could be doing to improve, or feel that you’ve hit a plateau in your performance – well, this article will hopefully give you some tangible things to work on!

The first place to start is checking in on what you and your team actually want – you may already be happy heading out to the woods for a load of game time and enjoy your time between games as much as being on the field. Don’t feel like you need to take things more seriously just because of this article or you heard of “Player X” who got a free gun this year!

If you do want to look at improving your game, the next place to check in is on your mentality and attitude. These make a huge difference to how you look at your own game and what you can achieve. Across formats, events and teams, I have always seen far too much focus on items outside of the team being used as excuses for poor performance. That doesn’t help your team – so the first pointer is to only spend your time working on the things you can CONTROL or INFLUENCE. Don’t waste your time on things beyond your control or influence!

Having working equipment and decent paint is also key to your success – teams at the Woodland Masters are running decent kit nowadays and the gaps that existed a year ago have been mostly closed. The one thing that still astonishes me is the number of players going out to play in smoke or very colourful lenses… The woods can be a tough place to work out whats going on, with both field size and areas of light and shade playing into that. Second bit of advice is to use either a clear or yellow thermal lense for playing in the woods.

I’m going to focus this article into how your team plays together, so this isn’t covering every aspect of paintball, other areas to look at include field walking preparation and individual playing technique (first ball accuracy, snap shooting, sliding, diving amongst others).

I had the opportunity to play alongside Shaun, Louise and Steve from the Rare Breeds with TC from Blow also jumping in at the recent UKWM practice day. After playing one game, we changed how we were approaching the day and paired off with TC and Steve taking one tape, Louise playing the middle role, and Shaun and I taking the other tape. We focussed on building up our team work in pairs initially and then across the team.

Some simple tips we started to weave in were:

A) to make sure that our mid and second players were looking across the field at our own team – seeing where our own team was, and how they looked playing their bunker can give you a good sense of where you are in the game, and what pressure your team is under from where – simply seeing how someone is playing a bunker can often tell you who is shooting at them and from where.

B) In addition to watching your players, you can often times see lines of paint in the air… and mentally tracing these lines back to where they are being shot from can give you a good sense of where the other team is on the field and where they are shooting.

C) Repeating every call a minimum of three times – so if we took a body, or lost a body, we’d repeat that call three times each. This reinforces good habits and takes thinking out of the equation. Communication is infectious, and the more any one player does, the more they will tend to get back from the rest of their team… building and building confidence overall.

In paintball you and your team are making decisions every second of every game. Which way to look, to shoot, to move, to stay put etc. Making better decisions is key to playing better team paintball but surely you need information to make decisions?!? That is true but you can often see teams holding out for perfect information (which doesn’t exist) and suffering from analysis paralysis on field. The best teams have moved away from thinking and mentally processing every bit of information they see or hear during a game – instead they are operating more instinctively – adjusting what the key information is for that specific point in the game and then making their decisions from their gut. This might sound very conceptual and difficult to apply so the take away is TO THINK LESS AND FEEL MORE.

If we could hook the best players in the game up to brain monitors while playing, like Dynasty, I am sure we would see a shift in brain activity vs. lower division teams. This isn’t just something I’ve come to after the practice day, this has been a consistent theme in my coaching of ECI in the CPPS Elite division over the past two years. We have been slower to attack and take more position than we could be, and that left us putting the teams we played under less pressure early in a match.

On your journey to winning divisions and overall tournaments, you always want to stack the deck in your favour by making your opponent play under more pressure than you are. That pressure can help you force errors and speed your way to victory! Some of that is down to how you handle pressure personally and as a team but your focus needs to be on applying pressure through your position across the field.

Drawing on my time in the CPPS and coaching ECI, one thing we got to very quickly was rather than have the team try and identify the specific move that needed to be made, we instead focussed on working out which part of the field needed to be pushed. Watching point after point and match after match – we were getting into the game but spending too much time deciding on the next layer of moves to make to increase the pressure and unlock victory. So how we started to shortcut this was to implement three calls – SNICKERS, MARS BAR and DOUBLE DECKER. As the game progressed, we would simply shout SNICKERS (push snake), MARS BAR (push middle) and DOUBLE DECKER (push dorito side)… and of course we did this a minimum of three times! Anyone on the field could make those calls and it allowed us to accelerate our gameplay and leave points hanging in the balance for less time. As we bedded these calls in, the thinking time reduced and we were making these calls on what players felt and instinct. Don’t hold that these are just for sup’air – the principle here crosses over into the woods.

Outside of how we were handling the tapes, we also saw Louise developing her role in the middle of the field. Middle player roles have huge importance, and outside of communicating and controlling the field they often help unlock the mid-game based on how they choose to move on the field. We used Louise not only to play the centre but also to drop back and really stack a tape to unlock our mid-game.

Phew! This ended up being a lengthy read… so I’ll hold some other thoughts over to other articles… and will hopefully breakdown some of the “potential” teams in the series ahead of the warm up event. One last bit of advice – there is so much you can try and work on that sometimes you achieve nothing, speaking from experience, pick a MAX of 3 things at any one time to work on as a team and see them through before adding more to work on.

- Don’t work on everything – pick a maximum of 3 things to work on as a team
- Adjust your habits – use your eyes more
- Think less, feel more
- Know your calls for pushing left tape, centre and right tape
- Don’t wig out under pressure
- More UKWM Practice days are coming for 2018!


David Simpson
Why try woodsball?


You know what you are doing in paintball right? You’ve checked PBNation and you are all set to be the next Ollie Lang – that’s great! Check back a year later – how’s that working out for you? Ever thought you should maybe be enjoying the journey and not just worrying about the destination?

Maybe to answer all of these questions you need to look a bit more broadly – competitive woodsball has been steadily growing in the UK, and internationally, over the last few years. Is this just nostalgia or is it worth stepping into something new?

Competitive woodsball was the root of all competitive paintball 20+ years ago but that’s no reason for you to go and give it a try. Woodsball has now moved well beyond that, the UK Woodland Masters (UKWM) is the Number one European Woodsball League and the second biggest paintball series in the UK. Sure, some of the players played in the first phase of woodsball but the growth coming through is from new teams and teams transitioning out of other styles of paintball.

You see, at it’s core woodsball offers you a deeper playing experience. In the UKWM, teams play 4 prelim games of up to 8 minutes and the same again in the final round. That is an awful lot of playing time where you are in the game, looking for your next move, and working with your team mates.

Let’s talk fields – ever played paintball in a Valley, across a Crater, through bush, bunker-to-bunker, crawling through dirt, standing up tall? Well all of that is possible in the woods as each field has its own unique characteristics that you need to walk and find ways to attack through.

Enough from me… why not hear from other voices:

“Today was our first event with UK Woodland Masters and have to say it is an event with a top marshalling team, passionate staff, friendly atmosphere and smoothly run games. We didn’t expect half of what we saw today so on behalf of the Barbarians you guys really done a top job, you are a credit to the paintball community as a whole and no thanks will fully appreciate all the working hours you put in to make the event what it is”
The Barbarians paintball team

“In terms of what to tell players about the UKWM, I’d focus on the great atmosphere in the staging area and the fact that everyone actually sticks around for the trophy presentation. It can be daunting going in to a new environment like that and you want them to know how welcoming an environment it is. It’s always got to be fun first. None of my team [London Retribution] had played a woodsball tournament before and they all want to come back.”
Ash Chaplen, London Retribution

Still not sure whether you want to give it a try? We have 3 Man and 5 Man divisions on offer so you can take your next step in paintball and give woodsball a try.

We are at Holmbush – near Gatwick Airport – all year, and have been working hard to make this the centre of excellence for Woodsball in the UK and Europe. New fields are coming into play, and existing fields have been getting re-worked significantly. With the advantage of having a safe area in the middle of the forest, there is a field in every direction… and in some directions we are stacking fields two deep!

Got this far? You’ll think this is marketing spin right? Well I speak from personal experience as Woodsball and playing the UWL back in 2013 got my team, ECI, back together and continuing our own paintball adventure. #growwoodsball

Dave, ECI Tactical, ECI Veterans (on hiatus for 2018), UK Woodland Masters

David Simpson
Underdogs - No more!

Underdogz NO MORE - PRO 1st PLACE - UKWM Round One

Tired of receiving spot prizes, the Underdogz showed up to play at round one of Europe's number one Woodsball series - winning the event, a big ass trophy, £100 UKWM Discount AND those elusive Pro patches (you've got to climb over your opponents bodies to get them).

Where to start - these guys are bucking established order in the modern woodsball scene and just broke into a really circle of teams who have got those gold stars in the past... this is no fluke and the Underdogz are a team that other teams are now second guessing. What does that mean? We talked to other teams who have got Pro wins under their belt and when they walk the fields they expect their opponents to play within a range of options.... and then they meet the Underdogz - who have made some of the best "we didn't think they would do that" plays at the UKWM ever.

It don't stop there. Let's throw a heavy dose of "we just don't give a f*ck" into the mix. I'm not saying that from a negative angle, these guys are out there and they are not second guessing themselves or overthinking their plays - and that's a great enabler - don't let the monkey climb on your back and then you don't have to worry about shifting it later.

Build again - they probably have the most number of individual spot prizes on any team in the history of the UKWM - whether it's human torpedo Tristan (pretty sure he has move of the day and upcoming awards), Sly Dog Mike (3 pack from the warm up?), Lauchlen (upcoming player without a doubt and soon to be paintball chess master), then there is Carl Harrison and Dan (he chopped Dave up pretty good last year)... and they put a 3 man team into the event that podiumed too!

Next build - they brought their team work game to the event too - and that REALLY made the difference.

Enough already. They have the ingredients and after this podium, the confidence, to push onwards. The flip of all this is that you've to get the recipe right guys... and to be blunt, watching them at the December practice day was horrific in places - we look forward to seeing this team mature and #growwoodsball

Great effort - great team - great result

David Simpson
Whats this all about?

Here at the UKWM we write a lot of articles - some about how you can improve your game, some about our own series, others about players and whats going on in the industry.

Going forward we will start to post them here after they have been on facebook to preserve them and ensure that any player can always find them!

David Simpson