This article acts as a guideline for how a scholastic esports program may conduct practice sessions. By no means is this mandatory! They are simply our recommendations for conducting effective practice sessions that incorporate positive learning and reinforcement.
Personal Check In
- Check in with your students individually! Encourage any students leaders to assist.
- Try doing ~15 minutes of physical activity to get students energized and activated.
- Outside activities, doing stretches, are all great ways to revitalize the brain
- Have students open their game and spend 10 - 15 minutes in training mode(s).
- Most FPS titles have a firing range to warm up aim
- Rocket League has free play and “Custom Training” packs
- Make sure students are familiar with training options within their game!
- (If applicable) utilize GAMEPLAN to have students complete assigned training drills.
- We always recommend recording matches, not just in the case of match disputes, but more importantly for video review sessions with students.
- “Have we established ‘Team Identity’?” - This will help VOD review make sense.
- “Team Identity” = What is your team’s strategy? (It’s a benchmark for players to strive towards)
- Missouri Western is a good example: League of Legends team identity is based off of the “Split Push” tactic
- Don’t focus on “micro mistakes”, focus on concepts (strategies & tactics).
- If you’re new to coaching: Keep it short (and gather input from your student leaders). Allow student-led VOD reviews from the team captains but keep it within parameters of the “Team Identity”
- Keep it short: Identify 1 or 2 “turning points” (*whether negative or positive). Turning points are key moments/decisions that led to a certain outcome, not the outcome itself.
- Often times, a negative outcome is due to a decision that happened earlier in the game/round. Help students analyze those factors rather than pointing out the conclusion.
- For every 1 negative points, hit 1 positive (or a positive motivation)
- Allow 5 - 10 minutes for discussion amongst the students to speak honestly about the VOD review, or any other gameplay/tactics that were executed well, or where there is room for improvement.
- Sample activity: every team member has to watch another player and say 1 thing they did well, 1 thing they could improve.
- If you are less familiar with a specific esport, task your students to write down a set list for areas of improvement, positives, goals, etc.
- “You are creating a library of knowledge”.
- Edison found 1,000 bad ways not to make a lightbulb (i.e.) ever mistake is a learning opportunity/teachable moment.
- How have the students met the parameters of team identity?
- Where is there room for improvement?
This should be the stage where a majority of practice time is allotted. Setting goals, VOD review, warm ups, etc. are all great, but in general, the best form of practice is to simply play the game (with a healthy mindset).
- If you have enough players to run in-house scrimmages, or if you know another scholastic team, play out a “best of” series mirroring HSEL/MSEL rules.
- Have students implement strategies discussed previously.
- Facing off against a team who knows your strategy well forces higher levels of execution in order to ensure competitive success.
- Low-risk setting (compared to ranked queueing).
- Take a couple minutes between each map/round to have a quick discussion re: strategy, what worked/didn’t work.
- If there aren’t enough players and/or time willing, have students team up and queue in their game’s ranked playlist. Spend at least 30 minutes.
- Queueing against new, unfamiliar opponents will help mimic official HSEL/MSEL matches, where students will need to adapt on the fly while still focusing on implementing the team identity game plans and strategies.
- Make sure to disable all in-game chat features so students can solely focus on the gameplay.
Try alternating between in-house scrimmages one practice, and ranked queue the next session. We understand that time may not be in abundance!
- Review what was discussed/learned this practice session and provide students with some key takeaways that can be worked on moving forward.
- (If applicable) Use GAMEPLAN to assign training drills and other assignments in the time between practices or official matches.