When playing a round of speedball, most beginners are paralyzed by the fear of being hit. They stay behind one bunker or will only move a few times, and then sure enough the very thing they were fearful of happens. In paintball, if all you think about is what your opponents are going to do, you will be a sitting duck that’s easily eliminated. Many rookie teams place low in the rankings because of this. An all or nothing, go for broke, completely committed attitude is the only way you will do well at competition paintball. Beyond movement strategies you put together with your team, all tournament paintball athletes should have one particular individual strategy in mind at all times. This is always moving forward. As soon as the match starts, you must be plotting and pushing for your next position to force your opponent into a defensive state and try to pin him down. To do this, you must use every physical tool possible including sprinting, leaping, diving and of course sliding. Mastering the art of the slide will be one of your most important maneuvers and a great advantage you will constantly use.
There are three main slides used in paintball, The Pop-up Slide, the Superman Slide, and the Lateral Slide. The Pop-Up Slide is normally used to advance to a bunker in front of or diagonal to you. To perform the Pop-Up Slide, start running toward the bunker that you want to reach, drop your back leg to the ground, keeping your momentum forward and your front leg pointing forward, remain sliding on your back leg until you reach your destination. One of the big keys to pulling this slide off successfully is keeping both your head and your marker up, not pointing to the ground. Once reaching your bunker, you will suddenly pop-up from your back leg and onto your feet. This slide helps you drop down out of sight from your opponents and travel to a new location very quickly. When performed correctly, you should be on your feet when you get to the bunker ready to shoot at your opponents who you just confused by suddenly disappearing and then reappearing somewhere else. Defensively, the Pop-Up Slide is great for ducking under fire and coming up behind the safety of a bunker.
The Superman Slide is often reserved for players who are attempting to enter the snake shaped bunker. This slide is usually right off the break as soon as you hear the buzzer. Begin the Superman Slide sprinting toward the snake, again keeping your head and gun up while running. As you get closer to the bunker, start crouching and slowly shift your center of gravity toward the ground, easing into a hands in front belly slide; NOT jumping and landing on your stomach. As you begin to fall forward ensure that your gun’s air tank is underneath of your armpit, NOT directly on your shoulder or it could cause injury such as a dislocation. When you are at ground level extend your forearms to the ground, sliding on them into the snake. This slide helps you get into the snake in the quickest, most efficient way possible. When you are entering the snake on a superman slide, it’s important to avoid digging your marker’s barrel into the ground. If your barrel digs into the ground, you can damage your gun or at the very minimum block the barrel with dirt. To prevent this from happening, try to keep your palms facing up towards the sky. This may feel a little awkward at first but practice will make it more natural.
The Lateral Slide is best used to maneuver to bunkers that are horizontal to you. To perform the Lateral Slide, move either to the left or to the right in the direction of the bunker you want to get to. While approaching the bunker drop your back leg to the ground while keeping your leading leg sideways towards the bunker. Remain sliding until you reach the bunker, then bring your back leg up, lifting yourself off of the ground. You can also use your heel that’s in front of you to slow down when you approach the bunker you’re sliding to. This slide is similar to the Pop-Up Slide in all ways except the orientation of your front leg; in the Lateral version, your front leg should be pointed to the side you’re sliding. Use this maneuver to evade incoming fire and move faster to the bunker without being hit.
A big key in all slides is to always keep one foot on the ground (except for the Superman Slide); this ensures that you can get back to your feet as fast as possible. Another important aspect is to remain active in shooting your gun while performing slides. This takes practice but if you can incorporate slides in much of your movement, you will be very hard to hit; shooting while you do so will turn every time you move into an offensive maneuver. It’s also important to always keep your eyes on the field and never look down at the ground for a long period of time. This is so you can keep track of your opponent’s every move while you are moving as well in case you have to make adjustments to your plan. It should be noted, sliding is a maneuver mostly specific to speedball. Woodsball terrains are rarely played on flat surfaces and often have rocks and stubs sticking out on the ground, making sliding impossible.
Another suggestion for pulling off winning sliding maneuvers is to wear a good pair of paintball pants. This apparel is made specifically for this type of game and can really make a difference in not only better sliding performance but also protection as well. Most paintball pants are made with very durable, rip-stop material so they can withstand the abrasive abuse regular sliding will cause without tearing. For sliding, the best paintball pants have a slick sheen to them to help cut down on friction from the ground for faster movement. Most good paintball trousers are also equipped with extra material or padded cells sewn into strategic places like the knees, shins, buttocks and hips to make for softer landings and prevention of injury.
The best way to master the art of sliding is to practice. First start practicing your slides without your paintball gun so you can get good at the actual maneuver without getting hurt. Once you have them down, then start practicing them while carrying and eventually shooting your gun. Once this skill in place, start practicing to develop your shooting accuracy while you’re sliding. It’s best to learn how to slide on a smooth or even slippery surface so you can get the hang of it. Just remember practice doesn’t make perfect, only practicing correctly makes perfect. If you feel that you are not performing your slides correctly, ask an advanced player; most would be glad to help. Mastering these slides will give you a distinct competitive edge over your opponents and make you a better player.