Practicing the right way can ensure you grow as a player and be at the top of your game.
The first thing that’s necessary is for you to have a schedule in place. It doesn’t have to be extremely rigorous. You just need to identify when you’ll wake up and sleep, when you’re going to eat, when you’ll be practicing and when you’ll have free time.
Why do you need a schedule? Adding consistency to your life and controlling the variables will help you be more consistent in your practice and on game days. Knowing what you’re going to do and when also helps prevent you from becoming mentally fatigued.
Psychology suggests that every time you make a decision, the quality of your decision making is deteriorating throughout the day. You’ve probably felt it many times, you get to the end of the day despite maybe not doing much, but your day was so unstructured and you had to make decisions on what to do throughout it. You get to the end of the day and you have no willpower left.
Habits and building routines are essential to you maintaining performance throughout the day. When you have a habit you will automatically perform that action without giving it much thought at all. This helps prevent decision fatigue.
The first hour or two of your day can be pretty much completely scripted from the moment you get out of bed to the moment you are ready to perform. Avoiding these decisions puts you in a state where you’re starting fresh from later in the day.
Taking the time to plan parts of the rest your day will help limit the decisions you have to make too. What will you focus on when playing a ranked match today? What will you focus on in team practice today? What match VoDs (video-on-demand) will you go over? You should’ve thought about some of these things the night before and had an idea of how your day will pan out.
After two or three games in a row, take a break. This retains your focus and helps you prevent yourself from getting frustrated if you’ve lost a few games
During breaks, try and get away from a screen, do some small exercises like push-ups or stretches, or go for a walk.
An evening routine will get you into bed on time, help you unwind, and let your body know to relax.
Read more about staying fit and healthy, and establishing a good bedtime routine as an esports player here.
Setting goals for yourself is extremely important. If you are in a team, ask your teammates and coach to help you set appropriate goals that will help you reach where you want to be in the long run.
When setting yourself goals, try following the SMART principle:
Specific: Make your goal specific. Don’t just say: “I need to improve my communication.” Ask specifically what is it about your communication that needs to be improved?
Measurable – Can your goal be measured objectively? If not, is there a way of coming up with some quantitative data? So if your goal in League of Legends was to communicate pink ward purchase and placement in 80% of games, or to get an amount of kills in CSGO, then get your coach to track this for you and keep a tally of “yes” and “no”. Then you can work out the percentage.
Attainable – Is your goal actually attainable? Maybe you’re stuck at a certain level and you’re looking to set yourself a goal to get to the next in-game tier in one month. It won’t be worth your time to set some goals as it may be demotivating if you don’t make it. Scale back your goals to what is attainable given your current ability.
Realistic – Is it realistic? You might well be good enough to get to a certain level or a 70% win rate in scrims (practise matches) over the next month, but do you actually have enough time to play? Do you have access to a PC enough? Are you in an environment that allows you to focus? Does your internet allow you to play properly? Take these things into consideration when setting your goals. Never assume your dream is completely unrealistic though, you can always work to improve your situation.
Time-bound – You need to set time limits to a lot of your goals. It’s okay to have a few long-term aspirational goals with no limit but if you don’t give yourself a time limit on the goals that are supposed to be working towards meeting your aspirations, you’re going to take a lot longer to get there.
Time limits push you to work hard on your goals now. You then re-evaluate that skill at the end of the given time period and decide whether you want more time, adjust the goal, or move on.
Esports are very mentally demanding. It’s important that you are working on building a winning mindset. We advise you try the following:
- 1.Learn how to develop a growth mindset
- 2.Have at least one goal each game that you specifically are in control of
- 3.Make a gratitude journal
- 4.Develop a mindfulness practice
If you want more information on how to do these we have a full Q&A with mental skills coach, Chris Alphenaar here.
The pro’s perspective: Advice from Fnatic
Professional esports players are required to put in many, many hours in order to reach – and stay at – the top level.
It’s not unusual for players to put in 16 hours of practice in a single day. At the same time, with a young retirement age (anything from the mid to late twenties), it’s important for the player to look after themselves, stay fit and healthy, and avoid burnout.
Pro Fnatic League of Legends player Martin “Rekkles” Larsson tells the British Esports Association: “Having downtime is really important, because it’s pretty much the only thing that gives you perspective on how you’re doing and how you are in life.
“For example, when I meet up with family and friends, they often give me these opinions that aren’t maybe expertise level, but they still can give me very basic life advice that I can use to my favour in many situations I face on a daily basis.
“I think in the beginning of my career, I didn’t value this at all. I just thought if I played 16 hours every day for a whole year, I’d be the best player. But I think these days that’s one of the worst things you can do. Obviously you should play as much as you can, but you shouldn’t block out other things due to it.
“These days I play as much as I can, but if we’re having dinner in 20 minutes, I won’t play an extra game and not have dinner with my teammates, because eating dinner with my teammates is going to help more than playing an extra game.”