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Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Paintball Offseason Begins..

World Cup is over, Halloween has passed, and I haven't played paintball in about two weeks.  Yup, it's that time of year again: the offseason.

All across North America as the weather changes, outdoor airball fields are being taken down.  Our local air field at DieHard went down two weeks ago, and the airball field at Flagswipe's outdoor has been down since Day of the Dead last month.  This means it's now harder to play speedball and get team practices in, all teams are going to have to fight to schedule practice time on indoor fields.

"Coming home feels like surrender, feels like we're giving in.
When the shows are over, is there any other reason to live?"


Sure it was written about a touring rock band, but this really captures the feeling at the end of the tournament paintball season.  Players go from grinding practices and events nearly every weekend, down to playing once a month if they can find field time.  As paintballer players, it feels like we're living two completely different lives, flipping back and forth between being surrounded by paintball where everyone knows each other, to the real working world, where your paintball knowledge is nearly useless and normal things seem to feel alien.  We want to be out on the road, at the field, at tournaments, hanging out in hotel rooms with our teammates.  The offseason brings this drastic difference, as we go from being completely busy and our of town on weekends, to suddenly have free time to have a normal social life.  This weekend coming up will be the first full weekend I've been home in Windsor in months, and it's almost overwhelming to have this freedom again.  This is the time when the paintball players return to the real world, without paintball.  We head back to school, jobs, careers, families and friends, and for some of us, no matter how good life on the outside is, we just want to be back at the paintball field, grinding out points with our teammates.

At the same time as this freedom comes, there's also a brand new rush to play paintball.  Although the season just ended, teams across the country are already starting tryouts and building team camps to prepare for next season.  As soon as we get time off from the season, we get a whole new schedule pushed on us with tryout dates and everything for the next season.  It seems almost crazy to start rebuilding so early, almost before players have even had a break, but it's what teams need to do now because everyone's doing it.  Paintball players want to play every weekend, and if they can't play with their team, they'll go wherever they can.

The offseason is the time of year that makes players question everything: whether they'll be coming back again for next season, if they want to stick with the same team, who they want to be at this time next year.  There's also the hard questions: can I afford to play a full tournament season next year?  Am I wasting my money or should I just play rec ball?  They're the hard decisions that every paintball player needs to make, and everyone needs to make for themselves.

Here's a cool video from DQ Films back in 2009 from the Palm Beach Vipers' offseason. 

It's a little different down there in Florida since they have nice outdoor weather, while us Canadians are heading back indoors, but it's the same focus: playing all offseason to be a better team for next year.

The first PSP event for next season is coming up in March.  That gives us five months to be get prepared for the biggest competitive paintball season of our lives.  We'll be grinding at Flagswipe all winter, and we will be ready to bring it.