Kyle Spicka: Mental Games Part 2

Kyle Spicka continues to break down the Ironmen’s performance during their disappointing 4th place finish at the PSP Chicago Open as he candidly speaks about his mental struggles during the event.

Read part 1 of his story here.

Saturday was a new day, everyone on the Ironmen squad knew we had to sack up for these matches to shake off Friday’s disappointments. It’s like the Navy SEALs say —The only easy day was yesterday. Going into the first match against Infamous we knew it would be a grinder. Infamous is a very solid team and you can never expect what they will throw at you. It was a tough fought game, but we couldn’t pull it together and Infamous comes out with the win.

After losing that match we knew it was essential to beat San Antonio X-Factor to move on. It was win or go home at this point, and we’d worked way to hard to go home. X-Factor is another team looking to reform themselves on the field; they’d been looking good this year, actually really good in some games during the last event in Phoenix.

The match goes to overtime, where we play a long point, until Colt Roberts makes a brilliant move. Or it looks that way at first, as he launches a perfectly timed run down the Dorito side, but he draws a major penalty trying to get two kills when he should have settled for one, and we take the victory. I rather have us beat them down for the win, but we’ll take it anyway it comes.

Going into Sunday I was at wits end as to why I was playing so bad. I had tried everything, even switching my headgear and undershirt, trying to dispel the bad luck demons. It was like I was going crazy. Mental games aside, I knew what had to be done. Sunday’s quarterfinals match was up against Dynasty, who we haven’t beat in over a year. Dynasty is our biggest rival in the league and we want nothing more than to knock them out of the tournament.

As the first few points transpire I was having an awful game, again, shot off the break or out of my bunker most points. I just didn’t have it this event. Our coach, Kevin “SK” Bredthauer, and I didn’t even have to talk about it, we both knew I wasn’t cutting it and someone else had to do the job. The big issue is that I’m the first guy in the snake, which is arguably the most important position on the field. If your first guy in the snake is having problems, typically the team is having problems.

The talented rookie Tokahe Hamil was our breath of fresh air. He was straight handling: winning two on ones, making moves, shooting people in the back of the head. It was a back and forth battle. Dynasty ended up getting a few majors that let us put points on the board, and our own Mike Paxson earned a Major penalty by putting Alex “Mouse” Goldman into the nets with a little extra love. The match was becoming an all out war, not just to see who moves on, but to settle who was coming back to San Diego head high with bragging rights.

We went into overtime 5v5.

As I watched through the netting, from the pit, looking at the stands and I could see everyone on their feet. Tensions were high and punches were about to be thrown. The buzzer goes off for the last point. Right away, two Dynasty players immediately walk off. We can taste the win just seconds away, and sure enough, slowly the remaining Dynasty players get eliminated and we take the win.

As we go into the semi-finals against Infamous, we’re looking for revenge.

As the match starts I get two points to try to redeem myself for my poor performance all tournament. Once again, I‘m mentally overthinking everything.
Infamous begins putting points on the board. 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, and we looked and the scoreboard, confused, thinking, “What the hell is happening?!”

Seeing our fate unfold before us was crushing everyone as they came back into the pits, losing point after point. I tried to keep everyone motivated to keep fighting, as Infamous put two more on the board. It was now 6-0 with 8 minutes left. Logically thinking, we have lost the match, but we have to attempt to scratch and claw for the impossible.

Our coach, SK, throws me in; at this point we were trying anything. I remember being in the corner with paint flying all over my bunker realizing that there was no time to play safe and overthink things, like I’d been doing all event. I started gunfighting players in, running through lanes as a last hope. This worked, we were finally playing the paintball myself and the whole team should have been playing all event: aggressive, in your face, Ironmen paintball.

I continued to play the last few points as we brought it to 6-3 before Infamous finished the game off. I looked around at the whole team, crushed from a crucial loss. I felt like a failure to my team; I wasn’t able to step up all tournament. I had a job to do and didn’t complete it. It hurt to think what we could have achieved if I had played to my potential.

This was our last game, taking 4th for Chicago.

Awhile back, at the Germany Millennium event Tampa Bay Damage player Chad Busiere and I were talking, after we were both knocked out of the tournament, about how hard it is losing in Europe, because as US Pros, we feel that we are the best in the world. I remember Chad saying, “It’s so hard, because when you lose, it makes you mentally revaluate your skills”. Coming from, in my eyes, one of the top players in the game, a player whose skill level I greatly respect, made me realize how much mental strength is the biggest asset of all.

What I’ve taken out of these past two events is that once you get to a certain point in your paintball career, once you have fine tuned the fundamentals of paintball, it turns into a mind game. You have to be mentally stronger than your competition in order to grow and become the best. You have to get past the obstacles that are thrown at you.

As someone who still struggles at the top I can tell you this league, the PSP, and each of their events, are incredibly challenging. Everyday I try to think of ways to get better, and now I understand how big a factor mental tenacity is to success out there on the field.

Everybody has those “Ah Ha!” moments where you understand a new aspect about yourself. Once you accept a weakness exists in your game, you can turn it into strength, as long as you are hungry to move forward and are willing to do the necessary work.

I will only get better. I will only get better. I will only get better. This is my new mantra.

The most important word in this sentence is ”Will”. Force of will creates the world I live in. Believe that.

Stay tuned to Paintball Access, where we bring you in-depth analysis from both the Pro’s and the top Divisional teams as we quickly move toward the next PSP event, August 10th-12th!

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  • Mogarthebarbarian

    “Force of will creates the world I live in.” that is awesome