The Sixth Player: The Roles of a Coach
Thu 2nd Nov 2017 - 5:00pm
Coaching roles are becoming more and more common every day in Counter-Strike. You see them everywhere: behind the players during big LAN’s, on the Scoreboard of your team practices, in interviews. But what exactly is coaching a team? What do they do, if they’re not directly impacting the game? Should they be treated as an equal in his team? The answer is yes.
Coaching is something that people are used to see in traditional sports, but still don’t really grasp the need to have one in eSports. Coaches can be the determining factor in winning or losing a game. Sometimes they even get criticized by other less informed players that they’re riding on the back of their team’s players, getting them to high places when they’re not working nearly as much as them.
Coaches do a multitude of things to aid their team’s progress and results. Let’s talk about some of them and how that can be good for you and your team.
Coaches help the team prepare for their opponents
It does not matter if someone is coaching a professional team or an amateur one. One of the main jobs of a coach is to analyze the opposing team prior to the match, mostly with demos. It can be a demanding job, as analysing a game is different from watching one. A coach is taking notes on the different setups the other team uses, the timings on their rotations, the positions they get into while preparing for a push and, most importantly, preparing strategies to not only counter all the previous points but also to make it work with the players available on his team. Everyone has a different style of playing and sometimes the most logical way to counter an attack is not always what works best for every player.
After all that information is extracted and analyzed from several different demos, it must be conveyed to all players within the team, while listening to their feedback and adapting the plan so everyone is confident in the effectiveness it will have in-game.
Coaches work closely with In-Game Leaders
Due to Valve’s ruling, coaches are not allowed to speak during the game. Although this can’t be controlled in amateur leagues (and to be honest, I personally don’t think there is any reason for it to be controlled at this level), players should probably try to stick to the official rules in case something goes really well and they end up getting to bigger tournaments, where these rules are enforced.
Thanks to this, coaches cannot call mid-game like they used to be able, which means the in-game leader role is one of the most important. Because of it, they work really closely with them, to make sure their ideas are synchronized and to get them to know their opponent’s playstyle after the intense observing and study of their previous matches.
Coaches can have a big psychological impact
Another part of a coach’s job is to make sure the moral of the team is as high as it can get, without it getting detrimental to their performance. The more confident a player is, the higher the probability of him playing well. Playing bad leads to tilting, which leads to making even more mistakes, hampering the team’s performance and maybe even costing the team the match.
Even when losing by a big margin, a coach can request a pause so that he can talk to his players, make sure they remember the game is still running and there is always hopes for a comeback. He knows his players and knows what to say to lift their mood and confidence, getting them eager to tackle the renaming rounds of the game with a renewed will to win.
It is just as important for the coach to be present in the losses as it is in the wins. Losses can be really demoralizing, sometimes enough for the team’s chemistry to suffer. Making sure the team stays united and ready to work on their flaws is important.
But how can this information be relevant to you?
Being a coach is not for everyone. Most people may find it interesting and appealing at first, but rapidly becomes a dull and boring job. You may feel tired because you’re not really playing or competing and just working behind-the-scenes. It is simple: if you’re not feeling up for it, just don’t do it. Doing something you do not want can have a detrimental effect on the team’s performance and that should always be avoided.
In other hand, you may play for a team that could benefit with the help and work of a coach. First, you need to find someone who has the same short and long terms objectives as everyone in your team. You need to always be in sync.
Be patient! A coach needs time to get to learn how the different members of the team plays, how they move around the map, what to correct them on, etc. This part alone will take immense work and time in the beginning. After that he will need to check what the players are doing wrong or not as good as it could be, share the ideas with them and, together, create something that both parties agree on.
During the game, in case your team is sticking to Valve’s rules regarding coaching, he should really be paying attention to the more opportune moments to take a timeout, whether you’re winning or losing. He will learn how the “snowball effect” works on each one of the players (be it on your favor or not) and how a timeout can impact the flow of the game.
All in all, having a coach will not work for every team. A coach is one more person you must rely on being there while practicing and playing official matches, one more person you need to adjust schedules with (chances are not every one of you has the same free time every day). For amateur teams will be even harder as the lack of time will make it not being worth having a coach, because it would probably be better to spend the low amount of time you have inside a server practicing and not receiving lectures on theoretical Counter-Strike.
Get out there, experiment different things and see what works best for you and your team. You can even find that something you never thought about doing before could be something that you will really enjoy and be good at, even with a low time investment.
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