HOW TO BUILD A TEAM
That's right, BUILD. Not form, not organize, but build. A team is built with blood sweat and (sometimes) tears. Buildings and maintaining a team is the single most difficult thing to do. I know, I've done it. Well, I actually helped build a CLUB, but it's a TEAM to us.
The idea of a team appeals to a great many players. It is a strongly knit collection of like-minded players, it can be a group from your neighbourhood, your office, or just a bunch of folks you play with. No matter what the word "team" means to you, there are certain things you have to remember when you're building and maintaining one.
Establish a playing schedule. Once or twice a month should suffice. Set up the schedule at the first of the season and have all team members jot down the playing dates on the family calender. This way, family members can easily see when the resident paintballer is going to be playing and family activities can be planned around them. Try not to schedule play dates during long weekends as this is when families like to get together, especially if it is some sort of national holiday. Days like Mother's Day and Father's Day and anniversaries are to be avoided. (Of course, playing regularly on wedding anniversaries may end up giving you more free time -- but that's not the way you want to go, trust me.)
Players who belong to the team must be committed to the team's playing schedule. Most, if not all, of them must be willing to give up personal and family time to play on the scheduled play dates.
You will need a team captain, a coach, an administrator/treasurer and a coordinator. These positions can be combined, if you are a small team. The Team Captain controls the team on the field. The coach advises and directs the team off the field. The coordinator handles playing reservations for the local field, arranges things like rental cars, transportation and lodging if you're heading out of town. The administrator/treasurer takes care of the various other things teams need to keep track of.
The larger your team, the less you can afford to have one person doing several jobs.
Always have more team members than you need. If you're forming a five player team, have at least eight members on your team roster. That way, when a couple of players can't make it, you still have enough players to conduct a practice.
Set up rules for your team and enforce them. Rules like safe playing practices should always be enforced. If you have set up a team so that you will have like-minded players, rules can be put into place to allow you to preserve the "spirit" under which the team was formed. To give you an example, our club (The Canadian Contingent Paintball Club) has established rules that make things (like close range shooting, over shooting and the infamous dead man's walk) against the rules of play. We have "created our own reality".
WHAT IS YOUR MISSION?
Our mission statement is "to make paintball safe fun and affordable". To that end, we have established ourselves a recreational group who just wants to go out and play. We also have a competition team for local tournies (Team CanCon) for those who wish to experience the thrill of competing against other teams. Your mission could be to be a local tourney team, a recreational club, a scenario game team or you can strive to participate in professional tournies like the NPPL and GWS.
A lot of professional players mandate drills. Flag grabbing drills, bunker drills, etc. This is all well and good, but nothing substitutes for actual playing. Over the years I have found the ultimate and only drill you'll need to become a good team. I call it the "Stacked Odds Drill". You should be playing full games (capture the flag, etc) but play them with two on three, three on one, four on two, etc. If you can handle multiple opponents in practice, just imagine how you'll do against a single opponent. The Stacked Odds Drill teaches you to keep your head up and keep track of things going on around you. This drill is essential as teams rarely finish a game at full strength, win or lose.
Each game you play, some skill should be stressed and players should be made aware that they should be concentrating on that particular skill. Concentrate on movement, use of cover, shooting, communication, etc. The reason for this is simple, during a practice it is easier to concentrate on one thing than trying to focus on everything. This also gives the coach an easier time of assessing the players in the game.
This is not a good tactic to use during a tourney.
Team members should be encouraged to play whenever they can, outside of scheduled team days. They can play as walk-ons. Any type of playing experience is good for a player. A word of caution though, don't expect to be on the same side as your teammates. In fact, you should insist that your team should be spilt up. (See Recruiting, and you'll see what I'm getting at.)
Also, dust off, or buy, a pumpgun and go and play against semis. One: You won't be "newbie bashing". Two: Your skill will improve faster as you are not relying on firepower and must use your wits to out-fox opponents with semis. Three: Being under-gunned will force you to team up with another player and you'll be learning teamwork.
Always be on the lookout for new members. They don't have to be experienced, but they should have their own equipment. Providing equipment to another player is costly and you really want someone who has spent the time and money on equipment so that you know they want to play. Occasionally you'll find a "super newbie" that takes to the game like a duck to water, but this is a rarity.
This is why playing as a walk-on is essential, you will meet other players and have a chance to see them in action and work beside them.
Invite prospective members out to play, tell them what you're about and that you'd like to see more of them at the field. Eventually, if things work out, they'll be a part of your team.
If you can, hang out after the play day is over. Socializing with team members is also a way to build trust between teammates.
This will not make you invincible, but you will become a good, solid team of players. Ask about the Canadian Contingent at Paintball Long Island, Cousins and EMR Paintball Park -- it will prove to you my theories are sound.