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Thursday May 23, 2024

After the first, major step in terms of youth work for tournament sport was taken last year with the Paintball Rookie Open, the second step was taken over the winter and the so-called PRO coaching concept was introduced for all ambitious junior teams. We were there at the first PRO coaching and took a look at what a day on the field is like, what you can learn as a young junior team and why we think it is a really good and future-oriented thing for German paintball tournament sport.

It is Sunday morning, just under 9:00 a.m., and we are standing at the Paintball Battlefields facility in Hildesheim. With two fully-fledged SupAir fields, this is currently the largest location for tournament paintball in northern Germany . At the same time, the facility is now the venue for a new training concept that was launched by the makers of the Paintball Rookie Open. Last year, the Paintball Rookie Open was by far the largest youth tournament in the country. With 60 registered teams, the tournament was not only fully booked, but also the largest of its kind in the last five to ten years. Many junior teams from all over Germany and neighboring EU countries took part in the tournament, got a taste for it, and wanted more.

So the organizers sat down last winter and thought about how to continue on from this… The idea of PRO coaching emerged. The best players in Germany should pass on their knowledge to the next generation of players in a professional but still beginner-friendly environment. And under the best possible conditions! It was a tough road, but with Dustin Hauk, the team captain of Ballistics Göttingen, who had also worked as head marshal and part of the organization at the Paintball Rookie Open, a motivated contact person was quickly found. Dustin and his team, which has been represented in the highest German league, the DPL Bundesliga, for over 10 years and has also played in numerous international tournaments and events, have top-level playing experience. The guys quickly understood that successful youth work is not just about successful beginner tournaments, but that these players and teams also have to learn to play the game properly on their way up. The problem is that most experienced teams only go onto the field with teams of equal or even stronger strength. Unfortunately, hardly anyone takes the time for their children these days. How could they? – After all, time is precious and expensive.

The first task was to find a solution and so it was decided to bring in external sponsors to "buy" the Ballistics for the pro coaching. After a short negotiation, the paintball manufacturer New Legion Paintballs took over under the leadership of Paintball-Land.de managing director Roy Becker. He was also convinced by the concept and considers youth work in tournament sport to be important. He therefore agreed to compensate the Ballistics for their expenses with free training paint in order to support the project.

The next step was to find a suitable location. This wasn't difficult, as the Ballistics are based in Hildesheim on the Battlefields field and have been setting up their training camp there since last season. As the Paintball Rookie Open tournament is also being held there, the next step was to negotiate with the field operator. After all, they wanted to be able to offer the participating junior teams the cheapest possible training. The management of Battlefields Hildesheim also quickly agreed to support the project and not only waived the entrance fees for the training field, which was blocked off for a whole day, but they even made a few concessions to the participating teams with the price of the paintballs.

This ultimately resulted in a really strong overall package in which the teams did not have to pay anything for the coaches or for entry to the field. Only the training paint had to be bought on the field. So nothing stood in the way of the first PRO coaching event and the call for entries was made. A maximum of six places were available. Four teams ultimately decided to take part. These were Porno Mafia Hannover, Suicide Bees, Team Disturbed Wolfsburg and the Knights from Braunschweig.

The training day was tightly organized because the aim was to impart as much knowledge as possible to the teams in a professional environment. However, there was also a need for fun and the odd break was needed so that the junior teams could get through the long day without any dropouts. After a brief introduction, the first exercises began. The players on each team were initially trained position-wise. The Ballistics snake player took all the junior teams' snake players to his side and explained to them his style of play in this very special position. This enabled them to learn exactly what was important for their game in their usual position. The back center did the same and took all the back center players from each team with him. The Dorito player did the same, and so on until all the players had been assigned to the individual positions.

Then it was back to the teams and each of the four teams present was assigned one of the experienced Ballistics players as a coach for the rest of the day. This was followed by a mix of theory and practice, in which breakouts and skills were trained, and layout and cover names were determined and revised together. The coach's job was to pass on as much knowledge as possible to the junior team, because afterwards there was a small X-Ball tournament scheduled for the afternoon, in which the players and teams were to show what they had learned in the morning. But first there was a short lunch break. Here questions could be asked again to all the Ballistics players present, which were answered in detail. Then it was finally time to play paintball…

The tournament in the afternoon ended at around 5 p.m. A winner? – Well, there wasn't one, or rather it wasn't about winning or losing. It was about trying new things, implementing the coach's instructions and thinking outside the box. No one is born a master and in paintball you can learn something new every day. So why not learn from the best we have in this country? From this perspective, the PRO coaching was definitely a success. We asked the teams present for a short statement because we wanted to know how they liked it and what they could take away from the PRO coaching for the future. That should also be our final word for this article. Here are the teams' impressions.

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