I always thought that professional gamers simply played a ton of video games to “train”. In reality, their training regiment is strict, challenging, and is constantly evolving.
Can you actually train for esports? There are two different ways esports athletes train themselves so they can compete in the pro circuit. They continually practice improving their video game skills and physically working out. To compete with the best they have to train their mind, body, and reflexes.
Let’s continue to break the stereotype of what the general public thinks of esports athletes. Being skilled at a video game is no longer enough to win at World Championships. Esports athletes have access to some of the best trainers and coaches to make sure they are functioning at an incredibly high level. There is an art and science to practicing for esports.
Training Like a Top Athlete
When we first started this blog I had no idea the physical and mental toll these esports athletes were enduring.
I always just assumed the top athletes were simply very skilled at video games, but they take their overall health and training very seriously.
Competing in esports is not a secure career and requires more than just skill.
They are putting their minds and bodies through the same physical toll as other professional athletes. Just because they are sitting down and playing a video game doesn’t mean their bodies aren’t working.
A recent study on the health of esports athletes discovered that gamers heart rates while playing in tournaments were around 160-180 beats per minute.
Now I’m not going to assume you understand what that means but trust me that’s some severe physical strain.
Most people’s heart rates only get this high while they’re exercising at full speed without stopping!
You would never know they were under that much strain by just watching them play.
This is why these athletes need to exercise. So their increased heart rate won’t cause any serious complications.
We are going to talk about how some of the top professional esports teams are physically training and then give some tips for young gamers at home.
There’s been a recent change in the mindset amongst the top esports teams. The owners and managers of these teams are now investing more resources into their athlete’s overall health.
The top esports stars are no longer being treated as just gamers but actual professional athletes.
If you are already an esports fan, I’m sure you’re well aware of the gaming team OpTic Gaming.
OpTic Gaming is considered one of the top esports teams in the world. Having won multiple championships and signed the best athletes.
So it’s not surprising to see them as a trailblazer for the industry when it comes to fitness.
They’re sponsored by Red Bull which means their gamers have access to both the Red Bull Training Center and the personal trainers/coaches working there.
The fitness trainers at the Red Bull Training Center love seeing these young gamers working out.
Professional gamers pose a unique challenge for trainers. The skills gamers need to improve are slightly different than those in other sports. Professional trainers are designing unique fitness routines explicitly esports.
The trainers know that not all routines and exercises will be beneficial for every athlete. Some specific skills and activities need to be used for these gamers.
For esports athletes, the one skill they are desperately trying to improve within a gym setting is there reflexes and agility.
They want to have the quickest fingers and twitches. Having slightly faster reflexes could be the difference between being the champion and coming in second place.
Depending on an athlete’s chosen video game; having a strong team makes all the difference. If you want to be a professional League of Legends athlete you need to have a strong support team.
The strongest esports teams are able to communicate and feel connected like a family.
Red Bull and their personal trainers are giving these young esports athletes a chance to bond outside of the video game world and become a stronger team.
Nothing bonds teammates together like pain and sweat in the gym.
Not to be outdone by anyone; eccentric Texas billionaire Jerry Jones owns both the Dallas Cowboys and esports team Complexity Gaming.
Mr. Jones knows a thing or two about physical fitness and how to give his athletes the best chance to win.
He has started to let his esports team train at his training facility for the Dallas Cowboys.
CHECK IT OUT
Both the Dallas Cowbows and Complexity Gaming are sharing The Star a billion dollar training facility.
These gamers are again getting access to some of the best physical trainers in the world. Plus, they learn tips and tricks from the football players training with them.
If you have a basic knowledge of physical fitness, you know that working out and being at the gym is only part of the process to obtain good overall health.
The other part of the equation is having a healthy and balanced diet.
The Red Bull staff makes sure their athletes are eating the right types of food and the correct portion size. They know the right foods can make a huge difference in overall performance.
By eating healthier food, you’re helping your body in the following ways
- Have a higher endurance
- Function better
- Improve your mental capabilities.
Proper nutrition really can improve your overall mental focus.
Having an edge in your focus, wakefulness, reaction time, and clear strategic thinking is something that cannot be taken for granted.
Esports athletes desperately need an edge in all of these areas as they compete with the best from around the world.
Encouraging young gamers to have a proper diet is so incredibly important.
Junk Food Effect
When we were younger, I’m ashamed to admit that our diet was not what it needed to be. Like most teenage boys we ate what we wanted; which was junk food.
That teenage boy mindset of eating junk and relying on unhealthy beverages is still a problem in today’s gaming community.
A lot of that junk causes an imbalance of our body’s sugar levels in the bloodstream.
Not to get too scientific but our bodies do need proper sugar levels to maintain endurance and focus.
If gamers are relying on junk food for energy and sugar, then their bodies will quickly crash, and they’ll never win anything.
By loading up on the right foods, you’re making sure that sugar crash never happens.
Hopefully, more aspiring esports athletes will take their nutrition more seriously and continue to push themselves.
If you live on the West Coast congratulations, you might live close enough to a revolutionary new esports athletes facility.
The Sandbox Esports Training Facility in California recently opened to meet the specific health needs of gamers.
As we have already said, esports athletes need fitness routines explicitly designed for them.
Routines that increase their overall health so they can compete at tournaments.
Happy Walters is the co-owner of the Sandbox Esports Training Facility, and this is what he had to say about esports fitness.
“A strong core, perfect posture, hand-eye coordination, and strong forearms, hands, wrists, and fingers. Additionally, professional gamers should be training with cardiovascular exercises, focusing on nutrition and partaking in cryotherapy.”
Mr. Walters has the right idea when it comes to physical fitness.
His facility and trainers are helping gamers improve in ways they may not have even realized.
I have awful posture… it’s something I’m aware of, and I’ve been trying to correct.
Having proper posture makes a huge difference for gamers when they play for extended periods. If you don’t course correct your posture it can lead to health issues and severe back pain.
Being an esports athlete requires a lot of sitting. It’s unavoidable and just part of the job.
To help counterbalance all of the sitting it’s vital that you get up and move every so often. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are stretching your muscles and getting some fresh air.
As we said before reflexes and hand-eye coordination are some of the building blocks for esports athletes.
If you have ever seen old kung-fu movies, there are scenes where ninjas have such fast reflexes they can catch a fly or even an arrow shot at them.
It’s this ninja speed and reflex that gamers are striving to achieve.
Another aspect of training in esports is mental health. There’s been more study and focus on gamers mental health than ever before.
The specific mental health concern in the esports community is stress.
Beyond regulating stress levels they’re also monitoring athletes depression.
Gamers are fierce competitors, which is good, but sometimes that competitive edge can lead to unhealthy stress levels.
They want to win so bad the thought of losing has an actual effect on their bodies. And as we all know too much stress can lead to serious health complications.
Trainers and coaches are taking this mental health issue very seriously. They are watching each athlete and making sure they are getting the care they need.
Stress is unavoidable! It’s part of life and esports.
There are ways to properly manage it.
Jake Middleton is the founder of EsportsTrainer. He takes physical health very seriously within the gaming community. Here are his thoughts on stress and eSports
“Exercise is its own version of stress on the body. However, instead of thinking about this as a negative, think about it as a positive. In the right doses, this “stress” will improve your ability to handle the emotional stresses of gameplay. In the end, this preps you to become a stronger opponent mentally.”
He wants more people to put their bodies through physical stress. This physical stress could help offset any mental struggles.
Try some simple running, stretching, weight lifting, and even yoga to feel that exercise stress.
I’m so excited to see esports gamers are getting the respect they deserve. They are athletes and should be treated like it.
Exercising From Home
Okay… I just gave you a lot of information, many of you are probably thinking “How am I supposed to accomplish any of this training while I’m still an amateur esports athlete?”
Thankfully there’s a lot of different exercises you can try from the comforts of your own home to be in peak physical shape.
One of the first fitness tips you can easily follow at home is getting good quality sleep.
Sleep is something that is genuinely undervalued in the esports world. Gamers are trying to stay up longer to fit in more matches and keep playing.
While it’s good to practice your body really needs sleep. Without it, your body can’t function at its highest level.
You may not want to hear it, but your body does still need 8 to 10 hours of sleep every day.
Gyms Near You
Even though you may not have access to the Red Bull Training Facility, there are a lot of different gyms available in your area.
I understand as an amateur gamer that your budget might be tight but investing in a gym membership could potentially further your career.
While at the gym try to focus on exercises that improve your reflexes and endurance.
To improve your reflexes try catching tennis balls or cards. Anything that makes you have to respond quickly.
Having a high level of endurance can be very beneficial while you’re competing in tournaments.
Most esports tournaments take a lot of time and can be grueling on the body. So having the proper physical endurance will keep you sharp and alert.
To improve your endurance try running or using an elliptical.
As you begin, your esports career it’s going to be tempting to neglect your physical fitness as you travel through airports or in the car to various tournaments.
There’s always a way to turn your space into a makeshift gym by doing push-ups or simply running outside.
And when all else fails…try yoga.
At first, when I decided to suggest yoga for esports athletes, I laughed at myself.
CHECK IT OUT
Yoga Journal is a great resourse for beginners.
Yoga and video games are about as far apart from each other as possible. But there are a lot of benefits while doing yoga that can improve your health.
Not only does yoga help with stretching and muscle building but it’s also great for the mind.
Yoga can help manage your stress or anxiety. Which makes you more lethal while competing.
Being an esports athlete is no joke! It requires a lot of hard work and time management. At least you will be doing something that you love.
Now that you know how to train physically for esports; let’s spend some time talking about how to actually train your video game skills.
If any of you are even considering an esports career please be aware that having a passion for video games isn’t going to be enough.
To compete professionally as a video game player you need to elevate your gameplay to the next level.
You need to consider your gaming as more than just a hobby. It needs to become your full-time career!
It’s all a mental game… you have to refer to yourself as a professional gamer.
By acknowledging that you really are a professional your whole attitude towards gaming changes.
If you take it seriously, then your family and friends will as well.
To compete against the best in tournaments, you are going to need to actually practice playing video games.
Before you can start training you will need to decide which game you want to play professionally.
I would struggle to make that decision! I love such a variety of different games; it would be too hard for me to narrow down my choice to just one.
But this is what you have to do to be a professional gamer. It’s incredibly difficult for one person to be skilled enough to play multiple video games in esports tournaments.
DID YOU KNOW?
Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter is the only esports player to go pro in both Call of Duty and Halo.
There are so many different components and rules for every game it’s impossible to learn absolutely all that you’ll need to know.
That’s why it’s recommended you find a game that you love, are good at and can see yourself playing for the rest of your professional career.
You can still play other video games, but it’s highly recommended that you just choose one to play professionally.
If I had to choose a game, it would come down to either Halo or Super Smash Brothers.
Play All the Time
It’s not enough to play every once in a while and then show up at a tournament and expect to win. That’s not how this works, and you’ll be quickly eliminated within the first round.
You’ll quickly notice esports professionals take the practice of video games incredibly seriously. They know that to compete against the best they always have to be improving their individual skills.
Every professional athlete practices! It doesn’t matter if you’re in the NBA, NFL, or esports.
Tom Brady, Steph Curry, and Lebron James, all of these incredible athletes, spend almost all of their downtime practicing and perfecting their game.
As a professional gamer, it’s up to you to properly manage your time between training and watching game film.
The quickest and easiest way to train is actually to play the video game you decided to play professionally.
This means you wake up and play until it’s time for bed. You’re treating it like a full-time job.
You need to push yourself while playing by challenging different opponents or increasing the difficulty of the game.
Take the time to fully invest yourself in the game you’ve chosen to play professionally.
You need to know every rule and character within the game. It’s so important that you don’t get caught off guard by a part of the game you didn’t know about.
If you’ve chosen to play Overwatch, you’ll need to understand all the controls, different weapons, maps, and characters. You never know what type of opponent you’ll face in tournaments.
DID YOU KNOW?
Some professional gamers spend as much as 12 to 14 hours a day playing video games.
I am fully aware it is a lot of time spent playing a video game. I don’t think I could do that even if I decided to go pro.
You have to find the perfect balance for yourself between training and living a healthy life.
It’s essential when you decide to start training that your teammates all share the same training goals.
This won’t matter if you’ve chosen a single player game, but a majority of the esports games rely on teammates and are multiplayer.
Finding teammates that have the same passion and goals as you won’t be easy at first but it will make your life easier by all having common goals.
Part of your training sessions with teammates will include working on your communication.
If you’ve ever seen an esports tournament, you’ll notice all the competitors are wearing headsets. They are relying on each other to communicate strategies and to orchestrate a way to victory.
They have to talk through what’s going on; otherwise, they will never beat their opponent.
This is why you have to work on communication while training. Make sure everyone can clearly understand each other and understand the strategies that you will be implementing during a tournament.
Observing the Competition
In addition to actually playing video games, many esports athletes are finding it helpful to watch other people play.
By basically watching game film you’ll be able to pick up new tricks or to see how you might be able to beat your opponent.
Someone always has a new trick that could enhance your game and the only way you’ll learn it is by watching them play.
You can even try watching game film of yourself and your teammates. Maybe you’ll be able to discuss why this one strategy failed or come up with new plans by watching how your games turned out.
Part of your non-playing training time might be dedicated to studying the different layouts and options within the game.
Game developers are always designing new tools and maps that’ll be used in esports.
Print a layout of all the maps and discuss with your team the best strategies to use while playing in that location.
This might sound silly at first, but this is what the professionals do. They take this stuff so seriously nothing is a joke anymore.
As a professional you are always learning and growing this means you have to be humble.
By being humble, you’ll learn strategies from other players easier and see where you can improve.
Having an esports coach is obviously a colossal advantage when training. They’ll keep you on track to achieve your goals and make sure you have a plan in place.
CHECK IT OUT
We have more information about gaming coaches in this blog.
Unfortunately, that is not the norm to have a coach. So try to find someone in your life that can help you be accountable while you train.
Competing Live vs Online
Playing in a tournament online is vastly different than playing in person at a tournament.
At live tournaments, you’ll be surrounded by fans, noises, and distractions that you had not previously experienced while playing at home.
This is where a lot of amateur esports athletes fail.
They show up without properly preparing themselves and get overwhelmed by the intimidating environment.
The best way to compensate for this new environment is to mock setup tournaments that can simulate the live experience.
Invite friends and family over to watch you compete in online tournaments.
CHECK IT OUT
The Major League Gaming website is a great resource for online tournaments.
Have them make as much noise and cause distractions as possible so you can get a feel for the environment of live competition.
After you’ve gotten used to the environment, the best training tool is simply experience. Sign up and compete in as many tournaments as possible so you can improve your reputation, practice against top opponents, and continue to get used to the environment.
There are so many different ways to improve your skills and your overall health. It can be difficult to know as an amateur esports athlete where to begin.
It’s best to take it one day at a time and slowly develop a routine that works for you and your family.
There’s no one training routine that’s going to work best for everybody.
Make sure you are properly managing your time as you continue to train.
Because there are so many different ways to train, it’s easy to lose track of what to work on next.
Write out a routine and make sure you were taking advantage of all your time to improve yourself.
Even the top gamers in the world have ways they need to improve their game… we are all just trying to get better at the things we are passionate about.
Can I take a day off from competing and training? Absolutely, you need to take time off. Being a professional gamer is stressful and exhausting. Your body will need time to recover so, please make sure to take a few days off.