How to build new habits and overcome bad habitsAug 15, 2022
In this blog, we're going to teach you how to build new habits and overcome bad habits to help your players perform more consistently and at a higher level.
We're all creatures of habit. You, me, your players, everyone. So, what are habits anyway? Habits are the day-to-day choices and activities we engage in. They account for a notable chunk of our time every day – your players included – so it's critical that you help them build good habits and remove bad ones. Because engaging in bad habits daily is directly linked to your player's performance, success, and enjoyment. Pretty important, right?
Why do we develop habits?
To put it simply, we do it to save energy. Think about it. When you're driving a car, there are more than ten things you need to be doing and processing while driving to be safe and drive efficiently. You don't want to be thinking about working the clutch, moving the wheel, using the breaks, and all the other things you need to be aware of while driving. You want to automate those actions rather than consciously thinking about all of them at the same time – that's not an efficient way to drive.
So, what does our brain do? It 'downloads' all of these actions (like a program or patch), so when you get in the car, your brain automatically knows how to do them and then calls it 'driving a car'. Once your brain knows this program well, it can automate the habit and let it run in the background, so we can focus on other things while driving, like having a conversation with a passenger, for example.
Why developing habits is important
Developing good habits is essential because knowing something, how to do it, and that it's good for you doesn't mean you will do it! Even when you know that it will help you to become a better coach and help your players improve.
The three types of habits
Let's briefly touch on the three types of habits to be more effective at adding and removing habits.
These are habits that bring value to your players. They can be in-game habits or general life habits. Some examples are daily exercise, brushing teeth, eating healthy, pre-game routines, warm-ups etc.
These are habits that take value away from your players. They can also be in-game or general life habits such as eating processed food, irregular sleep schedules and consuming too much alcohol. In-game habits could be playing overly aggressive when feeling bored or not checking the minimap before teleporting to a tower.
These habits are just neutral. They neither add nor take away value from your players.
The four stages of a habit
Regardless of whether it is a beneficial, non-beneficial, or neutral habit, there are four stages of a habit. They are:
- Cue – the trigger that starts the habit
- Craving – the feeling your player wants
- Response – the action your player takes to get what they want
- Reward – the reward that your player gets from their response
Here's an example of a habit for a League of Legends player using the four stages shown above.
Cue – 'oh, nothing has happened for 4 minutes in lane. This is boring.'
Craving – 'I want to feel excited, I want action, I want to play.'
Response – 'I'm going to make a play/roam.'
Reward – 'my play/roam helped my team' OR 'my play/roam failed and cost us time, gold, and one of my teammates died'
Another example could be:
Cue – your player sees a sticky note with goals written on it on the screen of their PC or monitor
Craving – your player is reminded of the good feelings and things that achieving that goal will bring
Response – your player engages in effective practice
Reward – your player improves
By breaking down habits into these four stages, you can see more clearly the steps your players take when engaging in one of their habits.
How to form new habits in 7 steps
Speaking of steps, let's run through seven steps that you can help your players take to form a new habit.
Set goals, and get precise on the results you want
First, you need to know if your player wants to be better in the first place. If they don't, you'll very quickly find yourself dragging them along rather than walking together on this journey. Why? Because in their heart and mind, they don't want to develop, and therefore you will feel resistance from them.
It's also important to differentiate between players who say they want to develop because it sounds nice and those who are dedicated to achieving results.
Self-awareness (catch yourself in the act) (the strategy)
This is the bridge between where your players are now and where they want to go. This step involves asking questions like – what kind of obstacles could arise? How would I react to those obstacles? What type of personality do I have? Do I have the time for this goal? Do I have the resources?
In this step, you also want to map out your strategy. Your 'high level' way of getting from A-Z. Because in the next step, you're going to be mapping the smaller, incremental steps to get your players from A to B, then B to C and so on.
Figure out the right tactic
The right tactic is small enough to get your players from step to step with the least effort possible. If the effort is too great, then building this new habit can very easily fall flat and fail. Keep it small and manageable!
Isolate your cue
A cue is a reminder. Some examples of isolating cues are putting a bottle of water next to your PC to remind yourself to drink from it, having in-game reminders open on a second monitor, and putting your toothbrush on your pillow. This makes the habit easy to do.
- Attach the habit to something you know and do already
Attaching a new habit to an already established habit is a great way to ensure its success. For example, the first time you sit down at your PC for the day, you drink a bottle of water and eat a piece of fruit.
The reward is critical for completing the habit loop. A reward triggers dopamine and gives a positive feeling to your players. A reward can come in many forms, such as compliments and free time.
Alone you go fast, and together you go further. This is especially true with developing habits. Encourage your players to use teammates, friends, and family to help them build these habits by involving them in the process.
Now that you know what a habit is, why they're essential for your player's success, and how you can remove habits and add new ones in 7 easy steps, you're ready to help your players reach their next level.
Your next level
If you want a deeper dive into this topic, including more Esports examples and a weekly Q&A with other Esports coaches, join the Esports Coach Development Program.
Every week we deliver a Masterclass for esports coaches. These Masterclasses are a part of the Esports Coach Development Program, where we cover esports topics and questions from coaches. To join the masterclass, click [here] to join the Next Level Esports Discord and just send a message in general chat or a DM to get access, everyone can join one time for free to check it out!
See you there, coach!
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