Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mindset, preparation, and bracing.

In Part 1 of my most recent video log (view it here), I discussed getting into the right mindset.

There's something I'd like to add to it, something I've touched on before, which is an element of mental preparation that I call "bracing."  Bracing as in bracing for impact, for instance.  The idea here is that, when you are mentally ready and accepting of a negative experience, its effect on you is lessened if not negated entirely.

For instance, you are a relatively new player about to go to your first big tournament.  You hear that 3 of the top 5 players in the world are going to be there.  Wow.  You also realize that, as an unseeded player, your odds of running into them early are pretty high.  But you decide you're going to go anyways, because you can see what it's like playing them.

Or you go to a smashfest with some really really good players that you rarely ever beat, and you lose maybe 95% of the games you play that night.  But you have a lot of respect for these players and going into that evening, you know they outclass you and that you're going to be learning from them rather than winning.

So in either case, going to your tournament or smashfest, you are mentally prepared to lose, to be eliminated quickly, to have very few victories.  Prepared as you are, the losses don't feel all that bad.

Better players could learn from this.  There's an element of ego involved as you improve, where you start separating and classifying players by skill based on observation and past experience, and you decide that you rank above certain people and beneath others, and you're really good at X matchup and you never lose on Y level and so on.  If they lose when they expect to, even pretty good players tend not to get upset.  I mean, they knew it was going to happen and they played anyhow, so it's not like there's any mystery, right?  However, when somebody is convinced they will win or do well and they don't, that's when self-destructive attitudes set in and people begin to crumble.

So here's the idea: if you aren't ready to lose, you aren't ready to play.  If you're only going to enter the tournament because you think you'll get first, then mentally speaking you are not prepared.  You are setting yourself up to make mistakes, get sidetracked, and lose your cool at important moments.  You're creating the perfect environment to lose all the games you "shouldn't."

I'm not saying you should expect to lose, or you should *want* to lose or screw up.  I think that defeats the point of competition, self-improvement, and striving to be better than your opponents.  But I think it drastically improves your outlook and your ability to recover from negative situations when you understand that these things are in the realm of possibility, and that you are ready to play and have a good time regardless.

So here's a question: if I told you that at the next smashfest, or the next time you play, you would lose 20 matches and win zero, would you still be willing to go?

I've come to believe that if your answer isn't "yes," then you aren't mentally prepared to play your best.

Lemme know what you think.  Peace.


  1. this is interesting. I feel it applies even more to games outside melee: brawl, marvel vs capcom 3, and even yugioh (lol) are games that can bring these unexpected losses to high level players. The same goes for games like Call of Duty for the above-average player online. these games seems to have a lot more raging going on!

  2. i think you see online rage more because there's no one physically there watching you rage
    not that it doesn't happen in real life too haha (G6 had someone doing a fairly unsubtle ragequit)