The Clinic: Damage in the Snake with Alex Goldman Part 1

Long time all-star and former World Champ Alex Goldman has just made the drastic move of switching teams right before the World Cup, as he left San Diego Dynasty for Tampa Bay Damage just this last weekend. Paintball Access had him come into the studio to film a Hot Seat episode (which will be up Tuesday Oct. 2) and while he was here we figured he be the prefect subject for another new segment we’re launching, called “The Clinic”. Goldman is one of the best in the game at playing the snake, and though he’s not had the 2012 he expected out of himself, he is still on everyone’s Top 5 list of Snake players. Matty Marshall sits down with Goldman to get a few of his thoughts on how to play the snake position and his departure from Dynasty.

This is part 1 of his interview.

People are always wondering how guys like you do what you do. How do you play the snake? What are you thinking when you’re getting in position, before a big game? Historically, you’re one of the best snake guys.

It’s hard this year man, and I’ll be honest with myself.

Yeah and we’ll get into that for sure. Ok, so when you’re in the snake, how do you approach the position that you play?

Ideally, I can be real effective in the snake. I watch the Webcasts and everything, but I feel like I can play both sides of the fields, and yes, I want to be the 1 (first to attack) on both sides. I don’t think I’m effective at all—well, I can be, but not as much so being a 2 or a 3 (the mid and back guys).
I know how to attack, I know how to get down the field and stab someone, I just, I don’t know… it’s just instinct to me. It’s like playing tag as a kid, you figure out where to hide, it’s just second nature.

But get specific, so the people at home can learn from you.

The way I go into each field and look at the snake is: First, what spot is going to be safest for me off the break to get to? How far can I roll the dice, can I make the snake, is it hard to make it? And if not, how can I go there constantly, consistently, and then when I get in there, obviously, what parts of the snake get the most kills? You have to know the field.

You know, a lot of times going to their snake, going past the 50 yard line, or even going to the snake off the break is not the answer. Sometimes you have to slow play it. So, there are just so many variables and possibilities out there. The games play different every point, that’s why it’s a race to seven. It could be Ball 2 (lose two of your players) off the break, obviously if you race down the snake, you might have to slow play it for a while, play some defense, then start attacking.

So it would take more than a day of paintball to teach someone how to play the snake, because you have to put them in millions of situations for them to understand how aggressively to play it, when to play it smart, and what situations to expect.

Yeah I mean obviously you had an innate talent to play the game, but how long do you think it took you before you considered yourself—in retrospect when looking back at your career—when did you come to the realization that “Oh man, I can probably hack it with the pro players”? What sort of timeline can people expect?

It happened probably quicker than most paintballers can say because on Aftermath (Alex’s first team) nobody had the opportunity, no other divisional team had this opportunity at least, to play against Dynasty and Ironmen so consistently, every weekend. So when I played my first pro game, I wasn’t sweating it.

I wasn’t overconfident or anything, I was just so used to playing at that level every weekend anyways. So I would have say that at 16. And people don’t know that, when I was on the Aftermath, my first tournament with the Ironmen was in 2006. I played with them in Chicago—I don’t know if you were playing with XSV—

I was.

Yeah, I lost to you guys, I got second place, and I told Dave Youngblood–you know, this doesn’t seem right, because now I’m doing the same thing–and so I quit Aftermath before the season ended. I said I wanted to end the season with them first. So I felt like for me it was early that I could play at the pro level because you rise to the level of competition you’re playing against on a regular basis.

So how long did it take, when did you start playing, and when did you feel comfortable?

I started playing when I was 14, I started playing with Aftermath when I was 15. I think it took me a whole season to start playing the tournament pro style of paintball.

That’s pretty damn fast Bro.

I know, well remember Mike Hinman, that guy is all about grinding every weekend, and it gets to you.

And also grinding against good competition, because you could grind for years and not go anywhere.

And it’s going to take you longer just because you’re not getting a good look at things.

So you’re saying, “Okay, first thing I do is think which bunker can I make it safely”, but let’s say you make it into Snake 1, and you’re in Snake 1—

I do, also, it also depends on where your coach’s head is at too. You can’t be the only one deciding what you’re going to do out there; it’s a team sport. There’s going to be different game plans. And you have to be tricky, so not all the time you want to say, “Hey I can make the snake easy” because that’s going to come into play on Sunday, teams are going to lay straight into the snake so…you gotta run different spots, because of the teams scouting.

They are so into scouting now, like with the schedules, “Hey we can watch them before we play them at this time” you know? You see the teams out there while you’re doing the webcast sitting in the bleachers, scouting every point. So for strategy reasons you have to run different spots so the back center players can’t just pick a lane to shoot, knowing that you’re gonna run that spot.

Are you looking at the incoming streams as you run out, watching the paint?

Every time I look up—not just because I can see the paint—also, say I’m going to be diving into the “God” bunker, we call insert-to-the-snake the “God” bunker—I don’t know why, maybe it’s just because it’s an effective bunker, but I like to run there head up, dive in, because I can see the guys running out wide on the opposing team, and know where they ran, so I can immediately get my gun up on where they were diving into.

Alright, so what variables/circumstances would dictate that you would be pushing up into snake 2? Is it putting your mirror, the guy that’s playing your bunker on the opposite side of the field, in or—

It’s totally different at every point, those split seconds of seeing those lanes drop, and it depends really on the other team. On how dedicated they are in keeping, in holding down, that snake lane. If they don’t want you in it, I’m smart enough to pull back and just slow play that point. But if that team doesn’t understand how to hold that lane, there’s pro teams right now that just drop lanes consistently quick, then I’m in there instantly.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the second part of Alex Goldman’s interview where he gets into his thoughts on leaving Dynasty. And see him and his new team Tampa Bay Damage throw down at the PSP 2012 World Cup Oct 25th-28th brought to you live and free by

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  • Marcello Margott

    mouse is a beast! wise words from alex goldman y’all should take out the note pad

    • rory@dye

      Please… I taught both of you kids everything you know…recognize! LOL! In all seriousness super proud of both you two (Mouse and Marshmellow), and honored to be able to say I played on the same side of the field with you two. Keep on grinding fella’s, for its easy to get to the top, but to stay there is much more difficult! -Rory@Dye

  • giovanni bianchi

    Marcello congrats on being ranked #1
    holyshit that awesome.. Talk about bragging rights! But as far as the note pad.. I would be glad to but really didnt learn much it was a little vAgue but thats just me..