The Clinic: “Timing” with Sam Monville

Sam Monville, from World Champion Houston Heat, drops in to give us his thoughts on one of paintball’s hardest skills, Timing, in our next installment of PBA’s “The Clinic”. Read on, and improve your game.

Sam, in the past couple seasons, especially last season where Heat won the PSP championship, your timing was excellent. Obviously the team is phenomenal in order to put together 3 wins and a 2nd in 5 events, and there’s a lot of great talent surrounding you, but you won some big games with some really clutch timing, and I think a lot of people noticed that. What’s going on in your head during those moments, is “great timing” something you don’t really think about, something that just come naturally, or is it this thing you’re consciously thinking about when you’re in those crucial spots?

Sam: For me, a lot of it, I know what I want to do, before I do it. It’s the timing, it’s about picking moments. It is creating the moment and not just sitting there and going “ok, hopefully they’ll stop shooting” or something like that. It’s creating those moments so that you’re not just waiting for it, it’s your making your own fate basically, instead of waiting for your opponents to see if they’ll allow you to do it. Timing is about actively creating the moments.
M: Talk specifically about what you’re trying to look for when you want to create that moment? Is it something you do with gun fighting, is it playing off the variables, is it movement? What specifically? Because, for players who don’t really know, guys who are trying to get better, that would be awesome to hear. So for you it’s about creating the moment, but to help people out, what should they be looking for?
My big thing is– where do you want to take the game? Because if the score’s 2 to 1 on the wire and you have 2, and you just have to play it safe. I always want to push my guy further forward than their guy. I want to try to get him up the field, and my responsibility is to keep him alive and get him as far as we can, so we can get those kills.

And when I do it, I am looking for where would I want my guy to be if I was in my front guy’s position; I’m always trying to think from his perspective of how he would go get these kills and how I could help him do it. So, it’s almost like you’re thinking about both positions at one time where you’re going, “Ok, I know he wants to be in there, how am I going to get him in there”. Okay, well, maybe I have to ask him not to shoot at somebody so then we can bait that guy or deciding hey, you need to put this guy in so that I can put this guy in behind you, then we will have you come underneath, depending on who you are playing with, playing against. Sometimes it will be like, “I’ll come underneath you and I’ll just take the spot in front of you. Or other teams, you just don’t want to take chances with and it is very much about the gun battle. You take your chances at getting wide and I really feel it’s about picking the battle that’s the highest percentage of staying alive, but getting down the field.

Now, what sort of drills would you suggest people work on to help timing? Because it’s one of the hardest things to work on, so many variables come into play when you’re dealing with timing. That was a great explanation of your thought process because a lot of guys they would just say, “Oh you know, I just make it happen.” Which doesn’t help teach people, what does “Make it Happen” mean? But that being said, yes, there is an element of experience to this specific paintball skill, but, other than going and playing a bunch of tournaments, what sort of drills can people do at practice to try to work on that?

When we do drills, we make it almost impossible, that’s our thing. We’ll pick a side and say, “Ok, you want to get that guy into the snake? Well, there’s always a spot teams like to use, maybe cross-field, they’ll sit there and shoot the gap. We make it impossible to get through there.” And so these two guys, because it’s not always just one guy, if he can get himself in there and get in there every time, then great. But that’s just not going to happen every time, especially come Sunday.

So we put you in these situations where you have to sit there and, a lot of times, even though you do put the guy in, he’s going to back up and shoot the lane. But we know the situation, when we actually play the whole game five on five, all three guns are not going to be dedicated, so we try to make it where our guys have to truly work harder than they ever will in the actual game, so when it comes to game time, you are already prepared for that.
It’s not like they only have one guy on you and you’re like “Oh, that was really simple” where when you have three guns and their job the entire time is not to let you do it, becomes way easier to get your chemistry together by knowing what you can do in certain situations.

Yeah, because if you’re doing that in practice, where you’re making it almost impossible like you were saying, then you get in a game situation where “Oh, I just need to go in against one or two guns, no big deal” you know?
I think the comfort level our guys go in with and the mindset, it’s way different. With the right drills, players will prosper a lot more than guys who just go in and play these five on fives. We know when we get into spots, what our purpose is. There’s not a, “Oh maybe I’ll shoot this way”. We come here, this is your job. You don’t stray, you’re doing your role for the overall picture and it’s like clockwork. If one gear is off, everything else is not going to work. So that gear’s job is to spin here, spin there. Do your job, it’s not about doing what you want, it’s about the overall picture, which is something Jason is big on. It, the game, is looked at as a whole. It’s not being selfish; do it the right way.

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