Choosing the right mindset for the task at hand
When preparing to play at a top level, or any level for that matter, performers must utilize particular mindsets in order to get the most out of their experience. Many gamers log on to their game and begin playing without ever checking into where their mind is and what they need to do for this particular session. Prior to performing, one must know what the purpose of the gaming session is in order to get into the appropriate mindset. In addition, goals can drastically effect the quality of any time spent playing. Each of the following mindsets require particular types of goals in order to ensure quality experiences:
A training mindset may be one of the more difficult mindsets to hone in on. The training mindset requires one to throw out preconceived notions that winning is the outcome goal. When focused on training we want to structure goals that focus on a particular area of improvement. This can be a daunting task at all skill levels. This requires taking a deep, honest look into your own game-play and identify a specific skill, tactic, or mechanical movement that needs work. This mindset is most effective when VODs (video recordings of performances) have been recorded and reviewed from both a first-person (for first person shooters) and a spectator view. Once an area for improvement is identified, this should be the sole focus of a particular training session. Focusing on one specific area and taking your mind off wins and losses will allow you to take risks and isolate exactly what needs to be worked on. Once this particular skill is built up you can introduce this new, or more developed, skill into scrims and into your competitive performance.
Scrims (when one established team plays another in an organized setting) are an important part of the developmental process. Scrims allow your team to size up their skills against another well-established team. The goals of a scrim are to try new strategies and refine the skills you have learned while training. However, be wary when scrimming competition you will see in the near future because they will learn your tricks when you need to play them. In addition to training, scrims may be used as a tool to build good relationships with other teams and those in the community. Scrims should be taken seriously and are a blend between the training and competitive mindsets. It is a blend in that wins are not the ultimate goal however, you still want to perform at a level that is challenging enough for the opposing team so scrims remain mutually beneficial.
A competition is a time in which challenge meets opportunity. Time spent training and scrimming is celebrated with a display of your skills that you have worked hard to obtain. The competitive mindset is reserved for league matches, tournaments, and high-level competition. A proper warm up routine that is consistent and can be done where performance most often takes place can help bring you into the competitive mindset. This routine should be something that clearly separates outside distractions and opposing mindsets from the competitive mindset. The competitive mindset is best executed when matching your perceived skill with the challenge in front of you. For example, in a tournament where your team is seeded higher than an opposing team, to avoid boredom or complacency (often seen when higher skilled teams face known lower skilled teams) try restructuring your outcome goal to something more challenging than just "beat this team". Try to make a more difficult challenge to match your perceived skill such as "not lose a life" or "take the first five rounds". Restructuring the outcome goal closes the gap between challenge and perceived skill. The competitive mindset is not about taking major risks with little reward and is certainly not the place to learn a new skill. Know your strengths and play them well in order to succeed in the competitive scene!