How to Be an Esports Coach

How to Be an Esports Coach

If you’re exploring career options, how does playing and talking about video games for a living sound? Competitive professional gaming, or esports, is a billion dollar industry and it’s only getting bigger.[1] X Research source New esport teams are popping up all of the time and they all need a good coach! If you’re passionate about a game with a big competitive scene and you love teaching and guiding others, you may be the perfect candidate for the job! By mastering the game you want to coach and looking for opportunity everywhere you can find it, you’ll have a great shot at leading a team to a championship in no time.

Method 1 of 3:
Getting Qualified

Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 1
1
Become an expert player in the game you want to coach. You don’t need to be the greatest in the world, but you will be expected to be an expert in the game you want to coach. Play regularly, climb the competitive ladder, and work hard to improve your skills! The higher up the rankings you can get, the more reputable your resume will look once it’s time to apply for coaching jobs. [2] X Research source You won’t make it just by being a “general” esports coach. You must specialize in a specific game and only focus on that particular game. Also, keep in mind that only team-based games typically have coaches. The more popular the competitive game is, the more coaching opportunities there will be. Some of the most popular games in esports are League of Legends, DOTA2, Overwatch, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, and Rocket League.[3] X Research source
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 2
2
Study the professionals to fully understand your game’s meta. Watch tournaments, follow professional players on Twitch, and tune in to talk shows to hear analysists discuss the state of the game. [4] X Research source This will help you develop a thorough understanding of your game’s “meta,” which is an industry term for the strategies and choices that are powerful based on the game’s balance and play patterns. [5] X Research source For example, if the game developers “buff” (meaning improve) healing items, that game’s meta may change from an assassin-focused meta, to a caster or spell-based meta. These things change all the time as developers adjust the game and players discover new strategies. Having a great grasp of the meta is one of the most important jobs an esports coach has. A pro player may love wielding shotgun, but if it the shotgun gets “nerfed” (meaning weakened), it’s the coach’s job to point out why they need to change their strategy.[6] X Research source
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 3
3
Offer one-on-one coaching for free to practice giving feedback. If you have friends that play your game, ask them if they’re open to coaching and watch them play. Alternatively, you can post on a gaming forum, like Reddit, to offer free coaching for low-ranked players. By getting this experience, you’ll figure out your style in terms of how you provide feedback. [7] X Research source If you’re really good at your game and your username is recognizable in the community, you can even charge players for coaching and make some money! The form of feedback you give depends on the game you’re coaching. If you’re coaching League of Legends, you may comment on item builds, pathing, or team-fight target selection. If you’re coaching Counter-Strike, you might point out where a player could have swapped weapons, taken a safer route, or threw a grenade.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 4
4
Lead an amateur team for free to get experience. There are casual tournaments for amateur players in every game, both online and at gaming cafes. Get a few friends together or recruit players you’ve met online to form a team and offer to coach them. This can be a fun way to develop your skills and get used to managing players with different personalities and distinct play styles. [8] X Research source Most of the popular esports games have a 5v5 or team-mode. You can always use this game mode to practice coaching by pretending it’s a tournament!
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 5
5
Develop a coaching style and philosophy towards the game. This should develop organically based on your experience and knowledge. Don’t pick a random strategy and force it. Are you a hyper-positive and playful coach, or do you favor clear, direct feedback? Are you an innovator who constantly finds new strategies in your game, or do you focus on mastering the most popular strategy? [9] X Research source A lot of this comes down to your attitude towards the game and your personality as a person. Every esports organization is looking for a type of coach, but you’re not going to turn any heads by trying to be a jack of all trades.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 6
6
Pride yourself on being perpetually positive and kind in the community. Gamers—especially professional gamers—tend to have a reputation for being a bit aggressive and impulsive. Never curse or insult players when you’re playing and aim to be as professional and positive as possible. Unlike something like professional football, organizations don’t look for coaches that shout at players or argue with refs. [10] X Research source Picture a well-dressed version of the nicest person you know. That’s kind of the vibe you want to shoot for whether you’re interviewing for a coaching job, or simply playing the game. Don’t say anything negative or problematic on social media. One bad tweet can really ruin your career in esports. The moniker you really want to avoid in gaming is “toxic.” If you develop a reputation as a toxic player, teams won’t even look at your resume when you apply.
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Method 2 of 3:
Finding a Coaching Job

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1
Adjust your professional resume to make it relevant for esports. This industry hasn’t been around for long, so there is no standard for what your resume should include. Many successful coaches don’t have a lot of work experience anyway, so keep your professional experience as it is if you can’t swap it out for esports experience. If you’ve coached any team though, put it on your work experience—even if you didn’t get paid. [11] X Research source If you don’t have gaming experience but you’ve worked as a tutor, you might write under the heading that you “collected data and analyzed student work to provide meaningful feedback” to demonstrate that you’re observant when it comes to guiding others. Under “Accomplishments,” you might write something like, “Finished in the top 4% of the ranked ladder (2016),” or, “Coached the team that won first place at the Milwaukee Amateur Overwatch Tournament in 2019.”
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 8
2
Start by looking for college teams that need coaches to get experience. Many colleges and universities have esports teams. Even if they don’t have an official team, they’ll usually have a competitive club for the game you’re interested in. Contact your local college or look online to see if there are positions open. This can be a great way to gain some experience in a competitive, professional setting. [12] X Research source If it’s the school’s official team, you’ll typically get a paycheck for being the coach. If it’s just a club though, you won’t get paid. Either way, it’s great experience! You will find openings for university teams on job boards like you would a regular gig, but you may need to contact a school’s student union or intermural organizer to find out about club openings.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 9
3
Seek out minor-league positions to get your foot in the door. The high-level teams rarely hire brand new coaches—those positions are normally reserved for well-known names in the game. However, many organizations have minor-league or backup teams that have open coaching positions. [13] X Research source Search through job boards to find open coaching positions and apply to every post you find! Keep in mind, you’re probably going to have to move if you do land one of these jobs. Most professional esport tournaments are hosted in the city or region where the game’s servers are located to minimize lag. You will find these openings online the same way you’d find other work. The organizations with teams in one game typically own multiple teams across every esport. For example, if you’re in the US, look for openings with TSM, Dignitas, 100 Thieves, Cloud 9, and Counter-Logic Gaming. These are huge organizations with teams in basically every game and at a variety of skill levels.[14] X Research source
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 10
4
Network with streamers, players, and managers to get the scoop on gigs. Many analysts and professional gamers are easily accessible on Twitch or social media. Reach out to them and chat them up to get your name out there. Hang out in stream chats, play online with other pros, and reach out to managers and ask them questions. As you build relationships in your game, you’ll have leg up on future coaching opportunities. [15] X Research source Attend esports conferences and live events whenever you can. This is a great way to build real-world relationships. You’ll also seem like a more desirable candidate if big names in the game can vouch for your knowledge and demeanor.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 11
5
Emphasize your coaching style and philosophy to crush interviews. If you’re given an interview, show up in a crisp suit or clean dress. You made it this far, so they’re unlikely to have questions about your playing ability. Try to demonstrate what makes you unique as a coach. Answer their questions honestly and do your best to make a great first impression! [16] X Research source For example, if they ask what your coaching style is, you might say, “I pride myself on looking at the team as a whole. I think players are at their best when they don’t focus on personal performance and buy-in to the idea that the team can succeed even if their score isn’t especially impressive.” Other questions you might encounter include “How has your work experience prepared you to be an esports coach?” and, “How would you handle a player that doesn’t take criticism well?”
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Method 3 of 3:
Managing Your Team

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1
Set your roster and assign roles for your players. As the coach, it’s your job to assign roles (not positions) for your players to fill. You typically need a shot-caller—one player who has the final call when making decisions. You may also need a target caller, who shouts out where players should focus in fights. Work to analyze your player’s personalities and give them roles on the team based on what they’re good at. [17] X Research source For most esports games, you won’t pick the player’s position. Players typically specialize in one specific role and won’t be able to change positions. For example, a mid-laner in League of Legends will only play mid-lane. An entry fragger in CS:GO will only entry frag, and a support in Overwatch won’t play any non-support characters.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 13
2
Practice as a team to build communication and get in the groove. Get the team together and hop into some games. Have your players treat it like a competitive tournament so they get used to playing with one another. This will also help your team work out any kinks in their communication over time, which is extremely important in esports. Schedule regular practices to help your players grow as a team. [18] X Research source If you’re playing a game where players select a character, this also gives you an opportunity to get familiar with each player’s champion pool. If there are certain characters that one of your players can’t play efficiently, you’ll know to avoid certain strategies in the future.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 14
3
Build your team’s game plan based on your player’s strengths. If your players don’t have the coordination to pull off high-risk plays as a group, create a strategy where players spread out to pressure the opponent from multiple angles. If your team has one star player who always racks up the kills, build team compositions in the game where the other players protect the star. Finding your team’s identity will make it much easier to fine-tune strategies. [19] X Research source This is one of the most important things an esports coach can do for their team. If your players aren’t good at playing a certain way, forcing them to play that way will only lead to more losses. Build your strategy around your players, not the other way around. Think about basketball. If you all of your players run faster than the average team, a strategy that utilizes fast breaks is going to work a lot better than a slower half-court style of play.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 15
4
Develop solid early-game strategies to guide your team. Players tend to know how to win if they’re winning and they’ll know how to fight back if they fall behind, but the early-game is uniquely important for the coach. Work with your players, take their strengths into account, and develop some early game plays or schemes to create a winning early-game strategy. [20] X Research source Is your team more suited towards an aggressive playstyle, or a defensive one? Do your players play strong early-game characters or do they need to pick some new characters up? These are the kinds of questions you’ll need to answer. All of this is going to be dependent on your game. There are no universal strategies that work across all esports.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 16
5
Contact other teams to set up “scrims” and get practice. Scrim is an esport shorthand for “scrimmage,” and it’s one of the best ways for your team to practice. Contact other organizations to set up online exhibition matches. This will help your players gain some repetitions as team, but it’s also an opportunity for you to identify weak spots. You can also figure out where there is room for progress in your individual players. [21] X Research source For example, if you notice your team is too quiet during team fights, you can work on being more communicative during chaotic moments in the game. You may notice during scrims that the team sniper is spending too much time looking at the map, or that your support player is building suboptimal items. Spotting these problems early gives you time to work on correcting them before the big game.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 17
6
Theorycraft in your spare time to develop innovative strategies. Theorycrafting is the process of finding potential synergies and strategies in the game. [22] X Research source Read item and weapon items thoroughly, study your game’s patch notes whenever they’re released, and keep a notebook full of ideas. Encourage your players to test out the builds, strategies, and tricks you find while you’re theorycrafting. [23] X Research source For example, if you notice snipers on a certain game map always set up in a certain building, you might realize that they’re vulnerable from a different angle. In this example, you’re theorycrafting an anti-sniper strategy for when opponents are relying on long-distance damage. In a game with drafts, like Overwatch or League of Legends, you may realize that two characters that aren’t good on their own are actually really strong if they chain two attacks together. Here, you’re theorycrafting a unique team composition to take opponents by surprise.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 18
7
Study matchups by reviewing game tapes with your players. Record your scrims and review them with your team so you can discuss what’s working and what needs to be improved. If you have a tournament coming up, look online for previous games your opponents have played and watch those as well. This way you can guide your team on how to spot their opponent’s weaknesses and exploit them. [24] X Research source Basically every esports tournament is streamed and recorded (typically on Twitch or YouTube). It shouldn’t be hard to find footage of your opponents.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 19
8
Keep your players physically fit to keep them in tip-top shape. It’s easy to get out of shape when you spend 6-12 hours a day playing video games! Schedule team workouts where everyone lifts weights, runs, or does calisthenics. Not only will being physically fit make your players better at the game, but it will also help strengthen the team’s camaraderie! [25] X Research source Believe it or not, esports players seriously benefit from being in shape. If your players work out regularly, they’ll be more alert in the game. They’ll also be less likely to run into eye strain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
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Method 1 of 3:
Getting Qualified

Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 1
1
Become an expert player in the game you want to coach. You don’t need to be the greatest in the world, but you will be expected to be an expert in the game you want to coach. Play regularly, climb the competitive ladder, and work hard to improve your skills! The higher up the rankings you can get, the more reputable your resume will look once it’s time to apply for coaching jobs. [2] X Research source You won’t make it just by being a “general” esports coach. You must specialize in a specific game and only focus on that particular game. Also, keep in mind that only team-based games typically have coaches. The more popular the competitive game is, the more coaching opportunities there will be. Some of the most popular games in esports are League of Legends, DOTA2, Overwatch, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, and Rocket League.[3] X Research source
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 2
2
Study the professionals to fully understand your game’s meta. Watch tournaments, follow professional players on Twitch, and tune in to talk shows to hear analysists discuss the state of the game. [4] X Research source This will help you develop a thorough understanding of your game’s “meta,” which is an industry term for the strategies and choices that are powerful based on the game’s balance and play patterns. [5] X Research source For example, if the game developers “buff” (meaning improve) healing items, that game’s meta may change from an assassin-focused meta, to a caster or spell-based meta. These things change all the time as developers adjust the game and players discover new strategies. Having a great grasp of the meta is one of the most important jobs an esports coach has. A pro player may love wielding shotgun, but if it the shotgun gets “nerfed” (meaning weakened), it’s the coach’s job to point out why they need to change their strategy.[6] X Research source
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 3
3
Offer one-on-one coaching for free to practice giving feedback. If you have friends that play your game, ask them if they’re open to coaching and watch them play. Alternatively, you can post on a gaming forum, like Reddit, to offer free coaching for low-ranked players. By getting this experience, you’ll figure out your style in terms of how you provide feedback. [7] X Research source If you’re really good at your game and your username is recognizable in the community, you can even charge players for coaching and make some money! The form of feedback you give depends on the game you’re coaching. If you’re coaching League of Legends, you may comment on item builds, pathing, or team-fight target selection. If you’re coaching Counter-Strike, you might point out where a player could have swapped weapons, taken a safer route, or threw a grenade.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 4
4
Lead an amateur team for free to get experience. There are casual tournaments for amateur players in every game, both online and at gaming cafes. Get a few friends together or recruit players you’ve met online to form a team and offer to coach them. This can be a fun way to develop your skills and get used to managing players with different personalities and distinct play styles. [8] X Research source Most of the popular esports games have a 5v5 or team-mode. You can always use this game mode to practice coaching by pretending it’s a tournament!
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 5
5
Develop a coaching style and philosophy towards the game. This should develop organically based on your experience and knowledge. Don’t pick a random strategy and force it. Are you a hyper-positive and playful coach, or do you favor clear, direct feedback? Are you an innovator who constantly finds new strategies in your game, or do you focus on mastering the most popular strategy? [9] X Research source A lot of this comes down to your attitude towards the game and your personality as a person. Every esports organization is looking for a type of coach, but you’re not going to turn any heads by trying to be a jack of all trades.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 6
6
Pride yourself on being perpetually positive and kind in the community. Gamers—especially professional gamers—tend to have a reputation for being a bit aggressive and impulsive. Never curse or insult players when you’re playing and aim to be as professional and positive as possible. Unlike something like professional football, organizations don’t look for coaches that shout at players or argue with refs. [10] X Research source Picture a well-dressed version of the nicest person you know. That’s kind of the vibe you want to shoot for whether you’re interviewing for a coaching job, or simply playing the game. Don’t say anything negative or problematic on social media. One bad tweet can really ruin your career in esports. The moniker you really want to avoid in gaming is “toxic.” If you develop a reputation as a toxic player, teams won’t even look at your resume when you apply.
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Method 2 of 3:
Finding a Coaching Job

Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 7
1
Adjust your professional resume to make it relevant for esports. This industry hasn’t been around for long, so there is no standard for what your resume should include. Many successful coaches don’t have a lot of work experience anyway, so keep your professional experience as it is if you can’t swap it out for esports experience. If you’ve coached any team though, put it on your work experience—even if you didn’t get paid. [11] X Research source If you don’t have gaming experience but you’ve worked as a tutor, you might write under the heading that you “collected data and analyzed student work to provide meaningful feedback” to demonstrate that you’re observant when it comes to guiding others. Under “Accomplishments,” you might write something like, “Finished in the top 4% of the ranked ladder (2016),” or, “Coached the team that won first place at the Milwaukee Amateur Overwatch Tournament in 2019.”
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 8
2
Start by looking for college teams that need coaches to get experience. Many colleges and universities have esports teams. Even if they don’t have an official team, they’ll usually have a competitive club for the game you’re interested in. Contact your local college or look online to see if there are positions open. This can be a great way to gain some experience in a competitive, professional setting. [12] X Research source If it’s the school’s official team, you’ll typically get a paycheck for being the coach. If it’s just a club though, you won’t get paid. Either way, it’s great experience! You will find openings for university teams on job boards like you would a regular gig, but you may need to contact a school’s student union or intermural organizer to find out about club openings.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 9
3
Seek out minor-league positions to get your foot in the door. The high-level teams rarely hire brand new coaches—those positions are normally reserved for well-known names in the game. However, many organizations have minor-league or backup teams that have open coaching positions. [13] X Research source Search through job boards to find open coaching positions and apply to every post you find! Keep in mind, you’re probably going to have to move if you do land one of these jobs. Most professional esport tournaments are hosted in the city or region where the game’s servers are located to minimize lag. You will find these openings online the same way you’d find other work. The organizations with teams in one game typically own multiple teams across every esport. For example, if you’re in the US, look for openings with TSM, Dignitas, 100 Thieves, Cloud 9, and Counter-Logic Gaming. These are huge organizations with teams in basically every game and at a variety of skill levels.[14] X Research source
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 10
4
Network with streamers, players, and managers to get the scoop on gigs. Many analysts and professional gamers are easily accessible on Twitch or social media. Reach out to them and chat them up to get your name out there. Hang out in stream chats, play online with other pros, and reach out to managers and ask them questions. As you build relationships in your game, you’ll have leg up on future coaching opportunities. [15] X Research source Attend esports conferences and live events whenever you can. This is a great way to build real-world relationships. You’ll also seem like a more desirable candidate if big names in the game can vouch for your knowledge and demeanor.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 11
5
Emphasize your coaching style and philosophy to crush interviews. If you’re given an interview, show up in a crisp suit or clean dress. You made it this far, so they’re unlikely to have questions about your playing ability. Try to demonstrate what makes you unique as a coach. Answer their questions honestly and do your best to make a great first impression! [16] X Research source For example, if they ask what your coaching style is, you might say, “I pride myself on looking at the team as a whole. I think players are at their best when they don’t focus on personal performance and buy-in to the idea that the team can succeed even if their score isn’t especially impressive.” Other questions you might encounter include “How has your work experience prepared you to be an esports coach?” and, “How would you handle a player that doesn’t take criticism well?”
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Method 3 of 3:
Managing Your Team

Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 12
1
Set your roster and assign roles for your players. As the coach, it’s your job to assign roles (not positions) for your players to fill. You typically need a shot-caller—one player who has the final call when making decisions. You may also need a target caller, who shouts out where players should focus in fights. Work to analyze your player’s personalities and give them roles on the team based on what they’re good at. [17] X Research source For most esports games, you won’t pick the player’s position. Players typically specialize in one specific role and won’t be able to change positions. For example, a mid-laner in League of Legends will only play mid-lane. An entry fragger in CS:GO will only entry frag, and a support in Overwatch won’t play any non-support characters.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 13
2
Practice as a team to build communication and get in the groove. Get the team together and hop into some games. Have your players treat it like a competitive tournament so they get used to playing with one another. This will also help your team work out any kinks in their communication over time, which is extremely important in esports. Schedule regular practices to help your players grow as a team. [18] X Research source If you’re playing a game where players select a character, this also gives you an opportunity to get familiar with each player’s champion pool. If there are certain characters that one of your players can’t play efficiently, you’ll know to avoid certain strategies in the future.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 14
3
Build your team’s game plan based on your player’s strengths. If your players don’t have the coordination to pull off high-risk plays as a group, create a strategy where players spread out to pressure the opponent from multiple angles. If your team has one star player who always racks up the kills, build team compositions in the game where the other players protect the star. Finding your team’s identity will make it much easier to fine-tune strategies. [19] X Research source This is one of the most important things an esports coach can do for their team. If your players aren’t good at playing a certain way, forcing them to play that way will only lead to more losses. Build your strategy around your players, not the other way around. Think about basketball. If you all of your players run faster than the average team, a strategy that utilizes fast breaks is going to work a lot better than a slower half-court style of play.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 15
4
Develop solid early-game strategies to guide your team. Players tend to know how to win if they’re winning and they’ll know how to fight back if they fall behind, but the early-game is uniquely important for the coach. Work with your players, take their strengths into account, and develop some early game plays or schemes to create a winning early-game strategy. [20] X Research source Is your team more suited towards an aggressive playstyle, or a defensive one? Do your players play strong early-game characters or do they need to pick some new characters up? These are the kinds of questions you’ll need to answer. All of this is going to be dependent on your game. There are no universal strategies that work across all esports.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 16
5
Contact other teams to set up “scrims” and get practice. Scrim is an esport shorthand for “scrimmage,” and it’s one of the best ways for your team to practice. Contact other organizations to set up online exhibition matches. This will help your players gain some repetitions as team, but it’s also an opportunity for you to identify weak spots. You can also figure out where there is room for progress in your individual players. [21] X Research source For example, if you notice your team is too quiet during team fights, you can work on being more communicative during chaotic moments in the game. You may notice during scrims that the team sniper is spending too much time looking at the map, or that your support player is building suboptimal items. Spotting these problems early gives you time to work on correcting them before the big game.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 17
6
Theorycraft in your spare time to develop innovative strategies. Theorycrafting is the process of finding potential synergies and strategies in the game. [22] X Research source Read item and weapon items thoroughly, study your game’s patch notes whenever they’re released, and keep a notebook full of ideas. Encourage your players to test out the builds, strategies, and tricks you find while you’re theorycrafting. [23] X Research source For example, if you notice snipers on a certain game map always set up in a certain building, you might realize that they’re vulnerable from a different angle. In this example, you’re theorycrafting an anti-sniper strategy for when opponents are relying on long-distance damage. In a game with drafts, like Overwatch or League of Legends, you may realize that two characters that aren’t good on their own are actually really strong if they chain two attacks together. Here, you’re theorycrafting a unique team composition to take opponents by surprise.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 18
7
Study matchups by reviewing game tapes with your players. Record your scrims and review them with your team so you can discuss what’s working and what needs to be improved. If you have a tournament coming up, look online for previous games your opponents have played and watch those as well. This way you can guide your team on how to spot their opponent’s weaknesses and exploit them. [24] X Research source Basically every esports tournament is streamed and recorded (typically on Twitch or YouTube). It shouldn’t be hard to find footage of your opponents.
Image titled Be an Esports Coach Step 19
8
Keep your players physically fit to keep them in tip-top shape. It’s easy to get out of shape when you spend 6-12 hours a day playing video games! Schedule team workouts where everyone lifts weights, runs, or does calisthenics. Not only will being physically fit make your players better at the game, but it will also help strengthen the team’s camaraderie! [25] X Research source Believe it or not, esports players seriously benefit from being in shape. If your players work out regularly, they’ll be more alert in the game. They’ll also be less likely to run into eye strain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
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