Saturday, April 29, 2017

Mental-Game and Execution

Mental-Game and Execution

The following (and all of my my writing on the topic of mentality) is based on research, the most useful/impactful of which can be found here, here, and here.

Today we’re going to look at how the mental-game relates to the game itself.

Review the following flowchart.

(Understanding -> Strategy -> Execution -> Hardware/Super Smash Bros Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube -> What happens/Results)

We have some ideas about Melee and how to play it. Those ideas may or may not be accurate, but they influence how we play the game. Those ideas, through thought and practice, get integrated into our in-game strategies, tactics, and playstyle. But however good or bad your strategy, it won’t matter if you don’t have the techskill or execution to input it into the game with your controller. The game reads your inputs, then outputs actions. Those actions either work or don’t and eventually you either win or lose.
This is a simple way to look at how our understanding of the game gets translated to our results. If one area has some kind of fault or error then the others suffer as well.

So where does the mental-game fit into this flowchart? You might be surprised to realize it’s actually part of the Execution step! If Execution is located between your strategy and your controller then there are only a few important subcategories.
  1. You must have the techskill necessary to execute your strategy. Techskill is simply a matter of rote muscle-memory. That being said, we play a complicated game so there are a huge number of small skills to learn.
  2. You must be physiologically able to execute your strategy. If you are inebriated or overly tired or aren’t wearing your glasses or have cold hands having just come inside from the snow etc then you have a problem. Luckily, esports are not especially physically demanding. It’s still important to be healthier than not but not to the same degree as say, rugby. Different games emphasize different things to different degrees.
  3. You must be mentally able to execute your strategy. You can’t get overwhelmed by your emotions or the perceived pressure of the match or wandering thoughts or the noise of a crowd or a whole range of other mental experiences. If you do then your execution will suffer as you use mental resources on yourself instead of on the game. Your reactions will suffer. Your inputs will suffer. Your character’s actions will suffer. Your results will suffer.
Mental-game is NOT about motivation.
Mental-game is NOT about controlling your mood.
Mental-game is NOT about controlling or censoring your emotions.
Mental-game is NOT about controlling the conditions in which you play.
Mental-game is NOT up to chance.
Mental-game is NOT incomprehensible or even especially complex.
Mental-game is NOT about avoiding mistakes.

Mental-game IS about directing your FOCUS and your BEHAVIOR.

It might not be easy (it will almost definitely take practice and strategies of its own) but it can be that simple.

Currently, a better Melee player (or even a top Melee player) is set apart from a worse one by some degree of understanding, some degree of strategy, and such a large degree of execution that it can’t overemphasized. In this game improving your execution is the quickest way to make the biggest difference. You may have heard it said that Melee at the top level is “all mental.” Once you’ve reached a certain techskill/physical fitness threshold, mentality is all that’s left to differentiate your level of execution from your opponent’s. In this way, the mental-game IS execution.

I will be writing posts about more specific mental-game issues (including the ominous topic of tilting) in the near future.

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