When playing a round of speedball, most beginners are paralyzed by the fear of getting hit. They stay behind a bunker or only move a few times, and then sure enough, exactly what they feared happens. In paintball, if all you think about is what your opponents are going to do, you’ll be an easy target to take out. Many rookie teams are placed lower in the rankings because of this. An all or nothing, go for it all, fully committed attitude is the only way you will do well in competitive paintball. Regardless of the movement strategies you establish with your team, all tournament paintball athletes should have a particular individual strategy in mind at all times. This is always moving forward. As soon as the match starts, you should be planning and pressing for your next position to force your opponent to go on the defensive and try to pin them down. To do this, you need to use every physical tool possible, including sprinting, jumping, diving, and of course sliding. Mastering the art of sliding will be one of your most important maneuvers and a great advantage that you will use constantly.
There are three main slides used in paintball, the pop-up slide, the Superman slide, and the side slide. The pop-up slide is normally used to advance into a bunker in front of you or diagonally towards you. To perform the Pop-Up Slide, start running towards the bunker you wish to reach, drop your back leg to the ground, keeping forward momentum and front leg pointing forward, keep sliding on your back leg until you reach your destination. One of the big keys to successfully performing this slide is to keep your head and marker up, away from the ground. Once he reaches his bunker, he will suddenly jump off his back leg and stand up. This slide helps you get down out of sight of your opponents and travel to a new location very quickly. When done correctly, you should be on your feet when you reach 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 climbing up behind the safety of a bunker.
The Superman Slide is often reserved for players trying to get into the snake-shaped bunker. This slide is usually right after the break as soon as you hear the bell. Start Superman’s slide by running towards the snake, again keeping your head and gun up as he runs. As he approaches the bunker, he begins to crouch down and slowly move his center of gravity toward the ground, scooting forward with his hands; DO NOT jump and land face down. As he begins to fall forward, make sure your gun’s air tank is under his armpit, NOT directly over his shoulder or you could cause injury such as a dislocation. When you’re on level ground, extend your forearms to the ground, gliding over them toward the snake. This slide helps you get into the snake as quickly and efficiently as possible. When entering the snake on a Superman slide, it’s important to avoid pinning the barrel of your marker into the ground. If your barrel sticks into the ground, it can damage your weapon or at the very least block the barrel with dirt. To prevent this from happening, try to keep your palms facing the sky. This may seem a bit awkward at first, but practice will make it more natural.
The side slide is best used for maneuvering into bunkers that are horizontal to you. To perform the sideslide, move left or right in the direction of the bunker you want to get to. As you approach the bunker, drop your back leg to the ground while keeping your front leg sideways toward the bunker. Continue sliding until you reach the bunker, then lift your back leg and lift yourself off the ground. You can also use the heel in front of you to slow down as you approach the bunker you’re sliding into. This slide is similar to the Pop-Up Slide in all respects except the front leg orientation; in the lateral version, the front leg should point to the side you slide on. Use this maneuver to avoid incoming fire and move faster to the bunker without getting hit.
A big key on all slides is to always keep one foot on the ground (except for the Superman slide); this ensures that you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible. Another important aspect is to stay active by firing your weapon while doing slides. This takes practice, but if you can incorporate slides into much of your movement, it will be very difficult to get right; shooting while doing so will turn every time you move into an offensive maneuver. It is also important to always keep your eyes on the field and never look at the ground for a long period of time. This is so you can keep track of your opponent’s every move as you move in case you need to make adjustments to your plan. It should be noted that the slide is a mostly speedball-specific maneuver. Woodsball grounds are rarely played on flat surfaces and often have rocks and stumps sticking out of the ground, making sliding impossible.
Another tip for pulling off winning slide maneuvers is to wear a good pair of paintball pants. This clothing is made specifically for this type of game and can really make a difference not only in better sliding performance but also in protection. Most paintball pants are made from a very durable ripstop material so they can withstand the abrasive abuse that regular slides cause without tearing. For gliding, the best paintball pants have a slick sheen that helps reduce ground friction for faster movement. Most good paintball pants are also equipped with additional material or padding cells sewn into strategic places like the knees, shins, buttocks, and hips to make landings softer and prevent injuries.
The best way to master the art of sliding is to practice. Start practicing your slides without your paintball gun first so you can get good at the actual maneuver without getting hurt. Once you have them, start practicing them while charging and eventually firing your gun. Once you have this skill, start practicing to develop your shooting accuracy while sliding. It is best to learn to slide on a smooth or even slippery surface so that you can master it. Just remember that practice does not make perfect, only correct practice makes perfect. If you feel like you’re not performing your slides correctly, ask an advanced player; most would be happy to help. Mastering these slides will give you a distinct competitive advantage over your opponents and make you a better player.