Coaching, Advice, and Yourself – Understand Improvement

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – John Wooden

This community is saturated with tips, tricks, mental advice, game advice, and coaching. Not all of it is useful, and people often don't understand how to apply what they hear, or how to know what information is valuable. I aim to help illustrate the role of each piece in your own learning.

First, a story, to introduce the involved parties. The student, the friends, the and the coaches.

– – –


"A student is learning how to play soccer for the first time. They are just starting to learn the basics, such as dribbling the ball and shooting, by just kicking the ball around alone in an empty field.

One of the student's friends tell them that all the pro soccer players control their breathing, and take deep breaths – in through the mouth, out through the nose. Another friend tells the student that you're supposed to pass the ball using the inside of their shoe, rather than kicking with their toe.

Eventually the student decides to join the school team, and while they're awful at first, they begin to gradually improve. The coach instructs the student on how to improve, and the student works at it. Eventually, they become a competent player, through the effort and learning."

– – –

Starting Point – A Journey Begins with a Step

Everyone will start with poor performance. It doesn't matter if they're a professional artist, a musician, an accountant, or a professional eSports competitor. At some point, they had very little knowledge about their field. You start as novice, and aim to improve until you're content with where you are, or until you're no longer willing to make any more sacrifices to get further. It's okay to be where you're at, and don't be afraid to ask questions to learn. On the same note, sometimes you have to figure out some basics for yourself just by playing the game. For example, it's not useful to ask where every individual health pack is located on each map. You just have to experience it and learn yourself. If you're a beginner, I recommend focusing on playing the game more until you feel more fluid.

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– – –

The Friend – Advice, Tips, Tricks, & Guides

Which friend's advice do you think was more useful to the student in our story?

The first friend gave a piece of niche advice about breathing. However, if our student followed the advice, they wouldn't actually improve. Their skills at soccer would remain poor, because our student literally still doesn't even know the basics of how to play. All the breathing in the world won't help someone who doesn't understand the game's basics. On the other hand, breathing optimization might be useful for near-optimized player who needs every edge they can get.

The second friend gave a piece of practical advice, tailored to the student's skill level. While it does not solve everything, it helps the student improve at kicking the ball and achieving good fundamentals. It answers the student's current limitation. However, it's not useful advice to a professional player, who already knows proper footwork. Good advice focuses on the biggest problems of the student.

In Overwatch, take advice with a grain of salt. It's not tailored for you, it might not be useful. Even advice that someone believes will be useful to you might not actually be correct. People love niche tech like animation cancels, B-Hop Reinhardt shatters, and set-up antinades, but these have such low relative impact on your gameplay compared to the fundamentals. The main problem is that niche advice will rarely pass your current limitations. I guarantee 95% or more of the people on the subreddit do not in fact have all their problems solved to the point of needing the niche advice.

Weigh advice against itself, and know that learning the fundamentals is more important. Advice can help expand your horizons, learn more about the game, and get new perspective on your role. When tailored properly to the student, it can also help them improve. But it's a small snapshot of help, and you shouldn't rely on stagnant advice for improvement and long-term optimization.

– – –

The Coach – A Qualified Person to Guide You

The coach instructs the student on how to improve efficiently. Instead of the student kicking around the ball in an empty field (inefficient practice), the coach will have you do specific exercises, play a single position in a team, and focus on learning certain concepts. A coach will offer tailored improvement suggestions, in order to facilitate efficient practice. This leads to accelerated player growth. A coach, as long as they are qualified, will almost ALWAYS be better than generic advice, especially if you build up a long-term relationship with a coach. They will often teach about the underlying concepts and how to build fundamentals upwards, rather than tunneling on small "tips and tricks" that crumble in real situations.

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A coach will NOT immediately improve you. They will NOT guarantee that you climb. Their job is to make you think more about what you're doing, and help you improve more efficiently, which in the long run will generally allow you to climb. There's rarely a magic bullet fix that makes you rapidly gain SR from one coaching session.

Of course, the question comes down to if a coach is qualified. The coach isn't qualified by their own skill at the game they teach – in fact, I GUARANTEE you that there are hundreds of Plat to Diamond rank players with similar understanding of Overwatch to Masters or Grandmaster players, and with a better ability to teach it. A coach's words will show if they are qualified – you cross check the coach's words with those of other coaches, and look to see if their knowledge lines up. The other ways to judge a coach are by their results, or by feedback from players they've worked with.

There's plenty of solid options for coaches in Overwatch, with varied content. I recommend Spilo, Natter (for teams), Hayes, WizardHyeong, and some of Jake's content. There's also tons of less known people who work in coaching smaller teams, myself included. On top of it, I know there's plenty of people who regularly help out on this subreddit. Find someone who can help guide you a bit.

– – –

Yourself – The Final Factor

Lastly, we come down to the student. This will be anyone seeking to improve at Overwatch, or anything. The student can consume all the advice from friends in the world, and be coached by Crusty or John Wooden or whatever powerful coach of your choice. The bottom line is if you don't put in the work, and don't practice, you WILL NOT improve. There's an unhealthy grinding culture in eSports, but to improve at anything in life, you need to practice. Bruce Lee said "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." You can have all the knowledge in the world, all the kicks in your arsenal, but without practice, they're nothing but ash in the wind.

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I'm a proponent for asking questions and stealing the experience of others. Consume their knowledge, make it your own, and become stronger. It's the fastest way to improve. But there's a gap in performance that cannot be overcome without your own experience. Eventually, you have to step in the arena yourself and put theories into practice. A student doesn't improve until they apply the coach's instructions. They have to think about their performance and reflect on their decisions.

Don't expect improvement in leaps and bounds if you aren't willing to sacrifice the time, effort, and resources necessary to reach those levels. I firmly believe anyone can improve to whatever point that they want, but ONLY if they are willing to make those sacrifices. It's okay to not be willing, but then you need to readjust expectations and chill.

– – –

TL;DR – For Allegory-Haters

People will often tunnel vision on irrelevant advice, or overexpect rapid results from coaching. Think critically about the content you consume, and understand that above all, no one will improve without actually spending time practicing. The practice can be made more efficient by coaches, but fact is that you CANNOT improve without playing enough to practice what you learn. The journey of improvement is a long one, and often requires more sacrifices the further you go.

This isn't against advice by the way – advice can be great. Just don't put too much stock in "tricks". Also, any thoughts welcome. Feel free to join my Discord or Spilo's, I hang out on both all the time.


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