Tips for Commanders

  • Don’t worry about your personal game for a while. Focus on how your team’s doing. The Commander doesn’t get the highest body count on his team. He should also be surviving almost every game. Play back a little until it’s time for the big assault and your team needs you and your gun. Then, you can go for it.
  • Whenever a plan fails, dissect what happened with your team, figure out where things went wrong and come up with a better response for next time.
  • Keep a very simple playbook. Don’t make your plans complicated. A plan must be simple and flexible enough to survive whatever the enemy throws at you. (Link to the Special Ops Paintball Playbook)
  • It’s hard to perfect your team’s moves when all you do is play walk-on paintball games and scenario games. Try to organize practices where your team runs drills over and over again until you get specific tactics right (such as assaulting a bunker or flanking an op-force.)
  • Don’t forget to organize your team into an array of Combined Arms (link.) Get each player to master his specialty, then use them together to blast through the opposition.
  • You MUST master radio communications (it’s harder than it sounds.) Without perfect radio communication, you will never rock as a woodsballTM or a scenarioball team.
  • NEVER forget to run radio checks before beginning a game. It’s a real bitch to start a game only to find out that you don’t have contact with one of your squads.
  • When you’re having trouble with players not sticking to team protocol (super common) tread carefully. It takes time, and sometimes plenty of painful failure, to enroll
    your players into working together. Remember, paintballers are very individualistic and it takes a patient leader to get them working as a team. Review each scenario with the team member who blew it. Ask him
    what he could have done to achieve a better outcome.
  • Gentle, but detailed, after-action reviews are life-and-death important to a team. When all the smack-talk is done, later at the burger joint, get the team talking about each play. What went right and what went wrong.
  • Recruit defensive players. Offensive players are easy to find, but the smart Commander takes good care of the boys on “D.” A good defense will give you the time you need to execute brilliant flag assaults.
  • Teach your squad leaders to communicate with you abundantly. The more you talk about what’s going on, the more likely you both are to make intelligent tactical decisions (rather than decisions arising from testosterone overload.)
  • At first, communicate with your new team by making suggestions, complete with “please” and “thank you.” Later on, when the team gets comfortable with you as a leader, you can shorten your communications down to “commands.”
  • Get your team in the habit of relaying the “add” count. Each time a team member takes someone out, he radios you and says “add one.” The Commander then keeps a running tally of every elimination on the other team. Knowing how many enemy there are running around becomes crucial as the game goes on.
  • Make sure you know every time you loose a team member. When someone gets taken out, they need to give you a “down” notice, such as “Parker is down.” Or the squad leader can radio back, “Squad A is down one.”
  • When you arrive at a new field, give yourself time to walk the fields. Sketch a small map, complete with defensive fortifications, woods, bunkers and open areas. Your playbook will shift significantly depending on the terrain of a new field.
  • Know each position well. Study the responsibilities and capabilities of each position and each paintball weapon. If possible, try playing every position at one time or another.
  • A Commander can play several of the other field position on top of playing Commander, but that alternate position must keep him safe and light on his feet.
  • Always appoint a second and third-in-command in case you are eliminated.
  • Typically, the Commander can lead a squad AND the team at the same time, so long as the team has fewer than fifteen players. Any team larger than fifteen deserves a dedicated Commander.
  • If your team can’t consistently beat walk-on groups twice their number, you’re doing something wrong (or not doing a bunch of right things.) Call your team together and talk it through. Trust your guys to have some brilliant insights.

Field Tactics for Commanders

  • It’s best for a Commander to roam forward on the field. The Commander can leave defense to his Defensive Squad Leader and range forward to coordinate the assault on the main objective. By roaming forward, the Commander will stay in touch with the ebb and flow of the battle.
  • A Commander adopts the field tactics of whichever alternate position he plays. But, it’s still important for the Commander to survive the entire game. The best alternate positions for a Commander are Medium Rifleman, Heavy Rifleman or Longbow Sniper. Light Rifleman, Heavy Gunner or any Ambush Sniper position are bad alternates. Light Rifleman puts him in too much danger and the Heavy Gunner gear kit will slow him down too much. Since Ambush Snipers are required to remain silent, that wouldn’t work, either.
  • When your attack team overruns the enemy flag base, the next thing to do is to radio the Defense Squad Leader and investigate the status of your flag. If the flag is lost, or is under heavy attack, your you should leave a substantial contingent in the enemy defenses. If your flag is in good shape, then everyone can head back. Also, when you check with defense, you should find out where any known enemy are hiding and how to avoid them.
  • When a squad bogs down in a firefight, you need to get them moving forward. Your defense won’t be able to hold out forever. Paintballers are suckers for a firefight, but they rarely yield any worthy results. Get the squad back on their game by encouraging them to set a base of fire and send out flankers. Get around the op-force and break it up (soldier!)
  • Know when it’s time to retreat. If your team’s been beat up bad, withdraw them and preserve any resources you still have. Sometimes, winning a stalemate is the best win possible.
  • If your attack squads are completely hammered, bring them all the way back and add them to defense. If there’s time, you can still cobble together a new attack force if defense succeeds in significantly reducing enemy numbers.
  • If your attack squad’s only a little beat up, you can withdraw them in stages. Have them drop back twenty yards and
    set up an ambush. Once the ambush is sprung, have them drop back another twenty yards and do the same thing
    again. They can do this all the way back
    to the flag and take a lot of bad guys out
    in the process. This hit and run tactic should be practiced in team drills. Most players will have the urge to stay put and duke it out with the enemy. Run, and you will live to fight another day. Bog down
    and the game is lost.

Ideal Attributes for Commander

  • Quick-witted and experienced on the paintball field. Experience can’t be duplicated. Sooner or later, the Commander must develop an instinct for field dynamics and tactics.
  • Basic physical fitness. The Commander needs to be able to roam the field and get where the action is. He doesn’t need to be an ironman athlete, but he must be mobile and willing to move.
  • Respected among the players. A Commander will be pressuring a bunch of crazy individualists to work as a team. It’ll take respect and a desire to win to get a bunch of paintballers to play like a machine instead of a blizzard.
  • Willing to communicate. Strong, silent types don’t make good Commanders unless they learn to talk. A good Commander doesn’t clutter the airwaves, but he keeps a healthy dialogue going with his Squad Leaders. A team must be LED and that means communication.