Joining a pro team is the epitome of speed paintball, and only a few dedicated players get to achieve this dream. While it doesn’t take a lifelong commitment to turn pro in paintball, it’s not a cakewalk either. So, how do you become a paintball pro?
The quickest way to become a pro at paintball is to get into the tournament paintball culture. Joining a competitive local team affords you a chance to compete in the regional and national circuits. You’re likely to get noticed and asked to a pro team tryout at such events.
Although turning professional in paintballs is less grueling than in other sports, it calls for exceptional skills, total commitment and dedication, and some level of obsession. Let’s dive in and find out how you can increase your chances of turning pro in paintball.
Who Turns Pro in Paintball?
While many people enjoy speed paintball and show great potential, only a handful transition to the professional circuit. Like in every other sport, only the supreme athletes manage to join the ranks of professionals.
Joining the professional paintball circuit takes intensity, talent, dedication, and lots of hard work. However, the path is quite clear—you need to get noticed to get drafted.
The first step in this process is getting placed with a competitive local team. That affords you the chance to build and polish your skills as you keep an eye out for a higher level team looking for a skilled and talented player.
It’s essential that you keep building your skills and switching teams until you land in one that competes in the regional and national circuits. Pro teams tend to recruit outstanding players from such events.
On a personal level, you need to make paintball a lifestyle—eat, drink, and sleep paintball. You should know the pro game, its history, players, events, and more like the back of your hand.
Nothing short of 100% commitment to being the best paintball player will cut it when looking to get drafted in the pro league.
Build or Join a Team
After playing a couple of speedball games and getting the hang of it, it’s time to find a paintball team. Your best bet is a local team looking to field a new member.
- Visit some of the popular paintball forums, and check if there are viable teams in your locality.
- Start practicing in the local paintball field and ask around.
- Ask for leads from the local paintball shop.
- Reach out to the local paintball team through their social media account.
If all fails, round up a few of your friends and form a brand new paintball team. You can start with a friend or two, then rope in other paintball enthusiasts and gradually grow your team. Just be sure to recruit team members who are just as driven as you are.
Here’s a video with helpful tips about starting a paintball team:
Get Professional Gear
If you wish to turn pro, it’s advisable to dispense with beginner and hobby items and upgrade to professional equipment. Not only is such gear durable, but it also delivers superior performance, and it puts you at par with other serious players on the team.
Pick out your marker carefully and learn it inside out. Learn how to clean and keep it in excellent shape to get the most precise shots while out on the playing field.
Get all the necessary safety gear such as a safety mask, paint, gloves, vests, thick pants, long-sleeved shirts, and even an athletic cup. You want to eliminate any risk of injuries that could put you out of commission.
Be sure to break in all the gear, so you can get used to its weight and get comfortable using it all time. The last thing you need is heavy and bulky equipment that will slow you down.
To know exactly which are considered great paintball guns to have, read my article on the best automatic paintball guns here.
Get in Shape
Paintball is a physically grueling sport that will push your limits to no end. Therefore, you need a training routine to improve your physical fitness and get you into the best shape of your life.
- Practice doing sprints and long-distance running to build speed and endurance.
- Work with dumbbells to increase your hand’s dexterity and speed to improve your reloading speed.
- Practice wall sits to build endurance in leg muscles and strengthen your knees.
- Include compound exercise to build muscle strength and power.
- Incorporate a stretching routine to improve speed and agility.
- Practice core exercises to build strong core muscles to improve strength and explosive strength.
Speedball is a fast-paced game that will have you running, crawling, crouching, jumping, and rolling all over the field. A dedicated physical conditioning routine will help your body breeze through these actions without suffering an injury.
I did some research and have found a fantastic article about exercises for a strong core.
Learn Marker Positioning
Probably one of the most crucial skills in paintball. It’s a simulated run that replicates the rapid firing in a paintball game to improve your aim.
Marker position entails taping a laser point to your marker’s barrel to pinpoint your target if fired a paintball. It’s best to practice with your mask on since you’ll never play a game of paintball without it.
Practice putting the barrel down and approximating where the paintball will hit before swinging the marker quickly into firing position.
The primary goal of marker positioning is to build your ability to estimate where a shot will land once you fire the paintball. It also sharpens your reflexes and aiming skills. Practice until you get the hang of it and can pick the target accurately without the laser pointer.
Perfect Your Aim
Every paintball professional is a crack shot and can hit multiple targets quickly and accurately. A perfect aim is crucial to winning any paintball game, and you should perfect it from the get-go.
Beginners make the unfortunate mistake of closing one eye when aiming, and it costs them dearly. It might seem like a good idea, but closing one eye affects your peripheral vision. That leaves you susceptible to attacks from the opponents lurking nearby.
In paintball, it’s better to use both eyes while sighting down the barrel of your marker.
Hold the marker and position it central with your nose such that both eyes can see over the gun’s barrel.
Always keep your head steady as it allows you to take good aim. Centering the marker on your body makes it easier to judge angles and ensure the paintball flies to its intended target. If there’s any part of the gun obstructing your view, tilt it slightly to the side.
Practice caution with markers with recoil as they sometimes cause the paintball to fly back into your face.
Aiming a marker is remarkably different from aiming a gun, and that might feel awkward at first. However, putting in regular practice will help build your aim quickly.
Learn to Judge Trajectory
Since markers accuracy declines after 300 feet (9 m), beginners struggle to judge a paintball trajectory once it goes beyond this distance. After 300 feet (9 m), the shot loses its accuracy, and hitting the target boils down to personal judgment.
Refining the ability to judge trajectory is a slow skill that comes with frequent practice. Adjusting your marker’s lateral or horizontal plane every time you miss and trying again is an excellent way to build this skill.
Paintball guns fire the balls at a lower velocity, and the round plastic capsules arc and drift through the air depending on the gun’s range.
Hitting the target accurately becomes easier once you get good at judging the paintball’s flight trajectory.
Refine Running and Shooting
Running and shooting is a critical skill in paintball that requires hours of practice to perfect. Tape a laser pointer to your marker’s barrel and raise it to a firing position.
Aim the laser pointer to a wall and start walking. The primary goal is to keep the laser pointing steadily at the wall as you walk.
Practice walking until you can comfortably keep the laser steady on the wall, then progress into a slow jog. Once you can keep the laser steady while jogging, increase the speed and break into a run.
Repeating this drill builds speed, endurance, and muscle memory and keeps your mind sharp as you train.
Learn to Hit Moving Targets
Paintball is all about shooting at a moving target, and hitting a speeding target calls for exceptional shooting skills. The best shooters don’t spray and pray that one of their shots hits the mark.
Instead, they take careful aim in the direction the target is moving and then shoot.
The best way to hit a moving opponent is to lead them.
You need to estimate the speed at which the target moves them to keep your gun trained at a space in front of them. Then, you need to predict where the opponent will be when you pull the trigger.
That means a mental calculation to determine how long it takes the paintball to reach the target. Combining all these calculations allow you to take the shot at the right moment and hit the mark.
Learn the Art of Bunkering
A bunker in paintball refers to a shelter or a barrier where you can conceal yourself from your opponents. It can be an object, a structure, or an embankment.
However, bunkering refers to eliminating an opponent hiding behind a bunker. It’s an effective way to eliminate an opponent who’s trapped by a crossfire or is preoccupied.
That allows you to move towards the opponent’s position and shoot them directly over the bunker’s top or around the side. Bunkering requires the element of surprise. Otherwise, the opponent is likely to shoot you if they sense your approach, even from a pinned-down position.
It also calls for excellent teamwork as you need a teammate to lay down the cover fire to pin down the opponent and cover your approach.
Perfect Snap Shooting
Snap shooting is an essential and commonly used skill in paintball. It improves your ability to make quick and accurate shots at your opponents from behind a bunker. You can do this from a crouching, standing, or even kneeling position.
One of the valuable movements to master in snap shooting is the ability to peek your head out from the bunker and take five quick, accurate shots.
- Stand behind a decent sized bunker, holding up your gun. Let the air tank rest against your shoulder, possibly pressing against your bicep.
- Tuck in your elbow and press them against your body so they face the ground. This may feel awkward at first and forces you to bend your wrists a tad more than you’re used to, but it’s best to master this position to avoid exposing your arms and getting shot.
- Practice this position by pressing a tennis ball against your body with your elbow. That’ll remind you to tuck in your elbow as the ball will drop if you aren’t pushing the elbows to your body.
- Hold the marker in front of your face at eye level, looking down the barrel, and keep it between your eyes.
- Quickly lean out of the bunker, going only so far that half your head, your marker, and the hands holding it are exposed. Take five quick shots and snap back behind your bunker. Repeat the same maneuver on the other side.
The key to snap shooting is to snap in and out quickly and take accurate shots without giving your opponent a target.
You should master this skill to build your efficiency in the field during a tournament.
Learn to Shoot Off-Handed
When starting with paintball, you’re more likely to use your dominant hand when shooting. However, you’ll realize that it’s not practical to use the same hand all the time as it puts you at a disadvantage in certain situations.
To even these odds, you should build your off-hand shooting skills to the level of your dominant hand. You want to refine your ability to shoot with both hands such that you can switch between them flawlessly.
Such skills come in handy in snap shooting as you need to peek and shoot on both the bunker’s right and left sides. If you wish to turn pro, the ability to switch between your right and left hands is a minimum requirement.
Practice by placing a 10 cm (3.9 in) wide target about 30 feet (9 m) away from a bunker. Get behind the bunker and practice snap shooting. Take five quick shots on the right side, switch the gun to the left side, and take another five shots.
Repeat this drill frequently until you can take five accurate shots in under five seconds on each side.
Master Your Position
Each player in a paintball team plays in a specific position, and each post comes with set actions and responsibilities. Your position determines where you’re in the field, how you play, and the type of paintball gun to use.
There are five central positions in a game of speed paintball:
- The Backman: These players are placed in the rear and play a defensive role. They need to protect the flag and lay a lot of suppressive fire to cover their teammate further afield. A backman carries a lot of ammo and is often the team captain since the role often calls for profound decision-making.
- The Frontman: Also known as the Pointman, a player in this high profile position takes the most aggressive, action-packed spots in the field. A Frontman handles all the dangerous moves in the front field, including attacking the opponent’s flag and bunkering. They’re charged with pushing forward and eliminating the enemy.
- The Mid Player: This player is between the Frontman and the Backman and is often called to fill-in any downed position. The middle player must be in great shape and shot accurately as they’re always on the move. They are also the information center of the team and relay information to the front and back player.
- The Floater: Also known as a roamer, this player has no set position on the field. They start in the middle and move positions to help as needed. A floater must be highly skilled and can take on an offensive or a defensive role.
- The Sniper: This is often the Backman’s job, but some teams have a designated sniper position. A sniper is charged with picking off critical players from the opposing team and providing cover fire. They often stay in the back to get the best view of the field and vantage position for accurate shots.
Refine Your Game Plan
Paintball is a game of wits where you win by outfoxing and outmaneuvering your enemy. To accomplish this feat, you need a foolproof game plan overrunning with useful strategies.
To become a valued team member, you need to master the game zones and have a mental map of the field before each game. That helps to pick the best hiding spots and places to use for cover.
You should learn the most effective paintball attack and defensive techniques and use them to outline an effective game plan.
Communication is key to a team’s success, and most teams choose to communicate in code to avoid giving away their plans and position.
Professional paintball players are sly and have a boatload of techniques in their playbook. They can be aggressive or stealthy when it calls for it and easily blend in with their surroundings.
Successful paintball players take in the entire field at a glance, noting the opponent’s positions and anticipating their moves. They do everything to stay one step ahead of the opposing team while picking them off one by one.
Put Yourself Out There
Once you’ve mastered the game, it’s time to build your personal brand and let the world know of your existence. That increases your chances of getting spotted by the right people.
Take part in as many tournaments as possible at all levels to build your skills and gain exposure. Excelling in regional and national tournaments is an excellent way to get noticed by the pro teams.
Attend paintball events in your vicinity and get to know the players, stakeholders, and recruiters. Keep your ears peeled for pro teams’ tryouts, practices, and scrimmages. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time may give you the break you need.
While turning professional in paintball has a shorter learning curve than other sports, it calls for total commitment to the game. You need to refine your skills and game mastery to the highest level.
Taking part in regional and national tournaments increases your visibility in the paintball circuit, increasing your chances of getting drafted by a pro team.