One problem with many non-professional teams is establishing a disciplinary way for team practicing. Teams often sit in ventrilo until there are 5 players and scrim. Other teams have a strict team practice schedule in which no one ever shows up to. Then there are some who gather everyone to practice prior to match nights, and hope they do well.
There is no way to improve your team without practice. Here are ten easy, but essential, steps to a successful team practice routine:
1. Positive focus
This is when each and every member first provides a positive focus to the team, whether it’s something about their individual game, something about last practice or even some amazingly random super uber shot they made in a pug.
The reason for this is simple, sharing and providing a positive atmosphere raises the motivation of everyone on the team. It tunes our brain into what is about to take place and it also raises the spirit of everyone around.
Something as simple as “I one deaged this CAL-I player on an ESEA pug today!” is enough to show that you care enough about the team to share your thoughts and feelings. This is unconscious psychology, we may not be aware of it but we are in fact raising team spirit.
It is important that practices follow through to the next. It is pointless if teams practice something one day and move on to something completely different the next without any slight hint of reminding everyone about the prior.
Review last practice! Did anyone forget what positions they take on CT side? Does everyone remember the priority points? Does anyone have questions about the B rush?
It’s imperative to make sure everyone remembers clearly what went on last practice so it eventually transfers the data from our short term memory to the long term.
Having an agenda is really important, a practice must be structured and it must be time-managed. Players need to know what is going to be practiced today, what topics are going to be talked about, how long everything is going to take so they can leave practice and head off to bed, or maybe make other plans.
The agenda should include everything the team’s going to do for the practice. It is also the best time to talk about other relevant issues. Maybe about the server bill, about an upcoming LAN event or even a short discussion on picking up a new player, etc.
4. Topic talk
Leaders must practice the ability to give talks. Choose a topic to talk about each practice, amplify the significance of in-game communication or talk about the importance of positions and angling.
The purpose of the topic talk is to choose a topic relating to the MENTALITY of the game, since you can’t practice mentality then the only way is to become aware of it. This improves the player’s consciousness in-game as well as their teamwork. This part of the practice must be done by one person only; everyone should just listen and keep questions until later. It’s not a debate, it’s not a discussion – if anything it’s just a prep talk done by coaches before games.
THIS IS THE ONLY TIME PLAYERS ENTER THE SERVER. An in-game strategist takes everyone through the map and identifies key areas with names. I strongly agree each team having specific names for a wide area of locations on each map. Stick to themes like countries, kitchen utensils or even name spots after other CS player. It doesn't matter which approach you take as long as everyone is on the same page. It is important that the team as a whole has a unity when it comes to communication. Each player has 5 pairs of eyes and ears, one for themselves and 4 for their teammates, they need to communicate as though they can see and hear for their teammates. Using themes is just an easier way to remember things.
Also go through “priority points”, where are the important areas/spots on the map that the team must try at all cost to control? What are the priority flashes/smokes/grenades that need to be thrown when entering a certain bombsite? The purpose of priority points is that it allows players to know what they need to do/throw when in situations unfamiliar or not prepared for.
6. Key Points
When going through tactics and strategies, always reiterate the REASONING behind it. What is the purpose of having a sniper at long A pit during T-side default set up?
There’s always a purpose to a certain flash or a smoke when hitting a bomb site, what’s the reasoning to it, why must it be done?
When playing a passive strategy on offensive side, what kind of mind games are you trying to play with the opponent? What are they key points that your teammates need to know when they take up their positions?
7. Dry runs
Practice rushes and setups as though you’re in a match. As obvious as it may seem, teams don’t do it because it’s boring. what’s more boring however, is when they screw up in a match because they didn’t practice enough dry-runs.
A problem that many players have when in a match is that they think too hard about their tactics and what they need to do and completely forget about playing the game. By doing dry-runs it allows things to become “natural” for the players when doing setups and rushes.
Also, practice playing 2v2 or 3v2 for specific bomb site coverage or attacks to see if there are any flaws or problems with the coordination or tactic.
You want everything to be perfect in dry runs, because in the match it’ll never be perfect.
THE FUN PART!! Understand that things would never be perfect on the first few runs. The purpose of the scrimmage is to imply what was just learn t. If necessary, even doing the same tactic over and over again just to get it down is alright. The key is not just to win the scrim, the key is to get everything down perfectly as well as to gain experience on what situations may happen during a tactic so that you win the match, not the scrim.
Discussion time! What needs to be changed with a tactic? If necessary and if time allows, precede back to step 7 and do dry-runs again.
Are there certain aspects of the game a certain player has to work on or a specific tactic that everyone’s not comfortable with and needs to be removed from the play book?
Take a good chunk of practice time to feed back on what just went on. It’s completely wasteful if we spend 3-4 hours practicing and scrimmaging without taking in any knowledge at the end of the day. Everyone should have something to input to the discussion at the end of the night, if not then it just shows they weren’t paying attention in practice.
It is pointless for non-professional teams to have a strict practice schedule for the month. Players just can’t make it sometimes because they have other priorities to attend to.
At the end of practice always have every player decide on the next date/time for the next practice, make sure it fits everyone’s schedule and remind them either by leaving the date on the topic in the private channel or on the ventrilo MOTD.
The fact that all the players agreed to a specific date/time means there shouldn’t be much of an excuse not to show up. Then again, sometimes they really can’t make it due to sudden issues, if that’s the case they’ll just have to catch up with things.