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What to Look For In a Teammate
By: Eric LaFon; Captain of Team Ramrod INC.

When you’re putting together a winning paintball team, you might ask, “What does it take to build a reliable team and how do you choose it’s members?”  Reliability, Trust, and Dedication are the three main ingredients for building a great team.  These three ingredients, no matter who you have on your team, can turn average players into legendary ones.

Of the three, reliability is the most important.  The team must be able to count on you to show up for practices, meetings and or course, tournaments.  If your teammates cannot count on you to show up for practice, how can you expect them to cover you in a firefight?  Reliability is a two-way road that must be shown if one expects to receive it.  By demonstrating to your teammates that they can rely on you to be at every practice, this will show them they can rely on you to be by their side in the mud, sharing sweat and dodging paintballs.  No one can say they are reliable without actually showing it, hence the need for demonstration.   

When it comes down to the wire, you will quickly find out how reliable people are.  They either step up or whither away; sometimes stepping up in the middle of a fierce paintball firefight may take more moxy than you thought!  Before heading to the competition, put new members in pressure cooker situations to see how reliable they will be for future episodes!  The ones who stand in the face of danger will make great Frontmen!

It’s also a good idea to choose team members with a wide variety of skills.  In other words, people who are only good at one position on the field may limit you in certain situations.  Ideally, each position on the paintball field should be able to handle any position.  This way if something happens to the Backman or sniper position, another player can take over their spot with reasonable effectiveness.  Being flexible about what position you play will also increase your reliability on the team, especially if you’re good at several positions – the other players will know they can rely on you wherever they put you.

Trust is a slippery slope for a team.  What can you say about it other than: “it is hard to gain and easy to lose.”  In the heat of battle, you find you have to trust each other or you simply will not make it.  You must have no doubt in your mind as to whether or not your teammate will be where he is supposed to be, backing you up with cover fire or if they will be able to pick up slack for a teammate.  These things relate directly with the reliability aspect as well, but for complete reassurance and peace of mind for every member, a sense of trust must be established.

In order to gain trust, as with reliability, you have to show that you are worthy of other’s trust.  This means if your teammate is engaged in a firefight, you won’t sit back and watch but rather help try to get them out.  Trusting the team and your teammates is a crucial component to having a well-oiled and functional team without the worry of deceit and betrayal at the wrong time.

Being dedicated to your teammates, yourself, and to the sport means, more than just going out and shooting off a few paintballs at some guys.  It means going out every day and developing relationships, giving your blood and sweat to the cause of winning, and not just saying you stood for something but actually going out and doing it.  Being dedicated to your team also means standing for more than just yourself; it means standing for your team and representing them in a manner that best represents you.  Being involved in every aspect of your team’s decisions, practices, events and recruiting shows that you are a dedicated member.

Dedication to your team also includes more than simply being there for your buddies in battle.  It also includes things such as: informing people about paintball, getting your team’s name out to the community, performing demonstrations for paintball awareness and safety, and attempting to get sponsors.  Sometimes it even includes writing blogs and articles on the internet to help get the word out about paintball equipment, how to play and the best paintball guns.

The fact is when you find a group of friends you can really count on and you all love to play paintball, you will have a pretty good team.  It may take you a while to find such a group, but the time it may take is worth for the rewards you will reap.  Choose members for your paintball squad, not just for their shooting skills, but their passion for the game and dedication to your cause.  After it’s all said and done, the most important thing about playing paintball is having fun with your pals.  If you find a crew of people you love playing paintball with, stop there… discuss with them the possibilities of organizing your efforts into a team!

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