Perfect your Aim even when under Stress
In this guide, we go in-depth into how to improve your aim and perform your best while under pressure, this guide is for everyone that wants to learn how to stay calm, focused and in control while playing a high-stake FPS game.
In my career as an esports player, I noticed that players including myself suffered performance issues while playing high stacked matches due to stress.
This mainly resulted in bad decision making (passive play), lower accuracy (overshooting), poor positioning and eventually losing more games than I should have.
To find out what was going on aside from the fact that I was just “nervous” I started to record my heartbeat, breathing, and my gameplay throughout the whole match.
The results were quite clear, as the pressure got higher my heartbeat increased and my breathing became heavier which obviously adversely affected my overall performance.
To evolve as a player, I needed to find a way to keep myself in check when facing any high-pressure situation.
This guide summarizes the key learning points I have reached to keep my stress level to a minimum and how I brought a new sense of calm and deep focus into my gameplay to guarantee more wins than losses.
How does stress affect the brain, body and subsequently your Aim?
Before tackling the problem, we first need to know what causes it.
When we find ourselves under a highly stressful situation like for example public speaking for a large audience or playing in an esports tournament final, our bodies release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. When these catecholamines reach your bloodstream, it leads to increased cardiac output, heavier breathing, reduced muscle control, tunnel visioning, and subsequently a clouded mind. Which is actually great for when you’re running for your life but not when playing FPS games.
In other words, reducing these catecholamines levels in our bloodstream is essential for getting our body and mind back into the game instead of searching for the exit sign.
How to Improve your Aim Performance Under Pressure in 4 Steps
1. Work on your mindset
One of the most important things you need to keep in mind for how to improve your aim is that it’s just a game!
99.99% of all people are playing games for fun and not for a living and even so it’s not that your life is hanging by the thread of winning or losing, I don’t give it more weight than needed.
This way you will produce fewer stress hormones that benefit your play and you will have more fun!
How to Improve your Aim: A Practical Approach
o Don’t stress over your in-game rank
A lot of people are putting way too much emphasis on their rank. The moment I played to improve my game and not to improve my rank was the moment my play really progressed and along with it my rank.
I didn’t care about winning or losing the only thing that mattered was having fun. The minute I wasn’t having fun, I simply stopped playing rather than letting myself get carried away with anger or tilt.
o See it as a Challenge not a Threat
When playing a high-pressure game your mind needs to be focused on the challenge at that moment and not what the future holds as a consequence of the result, hence somewhat a threat.
Don’t think “If I lose this fight then my promotion is gone” but think “I’m excited to play against such a great player and I feel great about it”.
And while the experience is somehow the same, the approach is different, in the sense that a different outcome and the negative chemistry released when under stress will now be replaced by positive ones such as increased testosterone. This can only work when you stay positively in the moment with your mind at ease.
So stop worrying about the consequences or seeing your opponent as a threat resembling fear triggering your survival instincts, instead see it as a challenge that brings excitement and opportunity.
Don’t Overthink Mechanics
· When you’re in a stressful situation your peripheral cortex tends focused on the wrong things. Like actively thinking on how to take that shot while in other circumstances you don’t think about it, you just go on autopilot.
The fact that you’re actively thinking about something that usually is left out of a conditional awareness makes it more likely you will fail to execute it properly.
With that comes the fact you end up paying less attention to what’s going on around you which results in clouding your game sense.
So, make yourself aware of the fact that you’re thinking about stuff you shouldn’t pay attention to and actively tell yourself to concentrate on the goal of your play instead of the execution of your aim.
Simulate High Pressure Scenarios
· Don’t fool yourself thinking that when the time comes you will be ready for it and the stress won’t affect you because it certainly will. Instead, train your resistance against it by forcing yourself into high pressure situations in order to build stamina and tolerance level.
· A Practical Approach
o Stop playing quick play and start ranked games
One of the easiest and most effective ways to increase your stress tolerance is by playing ranked games instead of quick play.
This way you even the stage on which you play and after a while you will feel less nervous or not at all nervous as if you were playing a short game. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be playing your ace game and lose focus! If you feel your attention is slipping away then quit! Otherwise, all purpose is gone.
When you’re playing, ALWAYS be conscious about your heartbeat, listen to your breath and actively tell yourself to calm down if needed, this is how to improve your aim.
Another benefit of playing ranked is that FPS gamers tend to play more seriously in that arena, which creates a better environment to train your aim.
o Picture yourself in a High Pressure Situation
Force yourself into thinking that every ranked game is a promotion match and that every encounter is crucial for the outcome of that match.
Do not just play randomly but imagine high pressure plays and really focus on them. Adapt this attitude and it will carry itself seamlessly while playing high-pressure shooter games.
That way you naturally build up your tolerance for stress and adapting to stressful situations more easily.
Practice Box Breathing
· This method of breathing is used by many athletes and US Navy seals and is proven to be very effective in stressful situations.
The execution is fairly simple
1. Take a deep breath deep through your nose for 4 seconds and focus on breathing into your stomach.
2. Hold this for 4 seconds
3. Exhale for 4 seconds
4. Hold this on for 2 seconds
By breathing through your nose you increase the Nitrate Oxide level in your bloodstream which increases the blood flow and lowers the blood pressure helping you relax.
Overall it’s better to breathe into your stomach than into your chest if you want to calm down or find yourself in a stressful situation.
Practice makes perfect, so don’t think that by just reading this guide you can keep your stress level in check. You will actively need to train yourself, and think about every step if you want to become a master of your own mind. This doesn’t come overnight and takes some dedication.
The quickest answer to how to improve your aim is like the US Navy Seals quote goes: “The more you sweat in times of peace the less you bleed in times of war”. Or in other words, if you are hard on yourself during practice and put yourself in harsh and stressful conditions while training, the moment of truth will feel like a homecoming!
Aim to Conquer your stress, your self doubt and you will conquer your opponents. Join the Academy today and start training on your own for ranked games. The next level would be to invite a friend or a foe to a duel on 3D Aim Trainer Multiplayer Games mode.