Why Is Your Aim Inconsistent?
You could spend thousands of hours in aim trainers, years playing FPS games, and still completely fail to aim with precision during key moments of the game.
This doesn’t mean the skill isn’t there. In fact there are likely many moments where you seem to pop off out of nowhere, hitting every headshot, and destroying the enemy team.
But why can’t you reliably do this every game? Why do you struggle to consistently aim well?
Well in this video we will break down a key aspect of your mental performance and show you how to ]upgrade your mind so you can stay focused on aiming consistently well. As a result, you will be hitting many more headshots, and easily snapping into those moments of godlike aim.
Types of Distraction & Focus
Before looking into improving our aim, let’s look at one of the main culprits which ruins your consistency and general accuracy. That culprit is distraction.
When you become even slightly distracted, it massively reduces your reaction time and accuracy. If you’re thinking about the wrong thing, or letting the wrong aspect in-game affect your mindset, then it’s going to weigh you down. But to understand this better, we can split distraction into 2 categories.
External distractions are the trolls in the chat, things in your house, and crowds at events all compete for your attention. Giving them too much of your attention means that you have less attention on your game. Less attention on the game means less control of the game (over your own skills + reduces reaction time and accuracy). Less control means that you have less of a say in overcoming challenges and beating opponents.
Internal distractions are arguably even worse. These are the things in your head which take your attention away from your tasks. Distracting thoughts are so difficult to deal with because they can spin out of control if not dealt with properly.
For example, let’s say you made a huge mistake in a previous round which cost your team the lead in a major competition. This would understandably make you feel guilty. If this guilt stays in your mind for the next few rounds, it may cause you to play with a little too much caution and second-guessing. These are obviously not helpful in high-pressure FPS scenarios which require intense focus and strong self-belief.
During bad games, or immediately after a bad play, see if you can recognize which types of distraction reduced your ability to react and aim. As you improve your awareness of them it will help you take the first steps to eliminating them.
The second step is to then improve the various aspects of your focus.
Improving focus and concentration as a gamer is so important because it helps prevent both external and internal distraction from getting a foothold in your mind and stealing your control of a game.
Sport Psychology splits focus into four different types along two axes (1). Focus can either be broad, narrow internal, or external. And by enhancing each of these it can massively improve your accuracy in consistency in-game.
External Distraction & Focus
External focus refers to concentrating on something outside of your body such as your computer screen or immediate environment. Internal focus refers to focusing on how your body or emotions feel. Broad focus refers to scanning for a stimulus like looking for an enemy to shoot. Narrow focus is when you put all your attention on one stimuli, like when you’re aiming down your scope at an enemy to make a headshot.
As you may have already noticed, FPS games require you to have both amazing broad-external focus and narrow-external focus. Broad-external focus is essential for scanning the map for the sight of an enemy (or target). Pros are obviously so good at this and it’s why they can deliver deadly shots at enemies in such small windows of opportunity.
Narrow external focus is also so important because it ensures that you can keep track of spotted enemies and shut out all other distractions so that you can take them out as quickly and accurately as possible.
These two types of focus can’t exist in your game in isolation though. It’s essential that you learn to switch between both types of focus throughout a round. Being good at focusing broadly may make you good at scanning for enemies while simultaneously checking your map, the status of your health and ammo, and commanding your team, but if you can’t narrow your focus during intense one on one encounters, you might find yourself second best to an opponent who’s attention was a little more engaged.
Similarly, having too much narrow focus will make you a sitting duck for opponents who attack you from your inevitable blind spots.
You can work on both types of concentration and switch between them with a simple exercise. I’m going to show you a picture, but before I do, I want you to find a blue pocket-handkerchief in the picture. (see how long it takes you to find it)
If you were able to scan the picture and find the object quickly, then chances are that you’re skilled at focusing broadly and scanning your surroundings. Let me know how you did in the comments.
Now, using the same picture, let’s see how you can switch from broad to narrow focus. Find the only character wearing a hat, then see how many things you can describe about their appearance in ten seconds.
The great thing about these simple exercises is that you can practice them almost anywhere. If you have a friend or teammate who also wants to improve their focus, I suggest that you challenge each other with these kinds of exercises. For example, The two of you could be sitting at a coffee shop where one of you spots a green car passing by outside. You can challenge your friend by saying spot the green car. They would need to then scan their environment as quickly as possible in order to spot it before it drives out of site. Once you understand how narrow and broad focus works, you can come up with new and creative ways to challenge each other, boost focus and get better at aiming in your game.
Dealing With Internal Distraction
Now that you have a great exercise to improve your focus and aim while away from your PC, let’s discuss how to regain focus in the face of internal distraction. We all make mistakes and mess up sometimes, but what if you can’t shake the guilt from a previous error to the point where those thoughts are causing you to lose focus and start missing shots?
Golf Psychologist, Dr Gio Valiante describes this process as a downward spiral (4). This is where the guilt from a mistake leads to loss of focus which leads to bad aim, which leads to bad performance, which leads to more guilt, etc. To avoid this kind of internal distraction, the key is not necessarily trying to focus on the right thoughts, but to think about as few things as possible.
This is backed up by Flow Theory (5) which explains that periods of intense focus are often characterized by not thinking, but rather through engrossing one’s self in the activity through trusting their well-developed skills and strategies.
But how does someone stop thinking, and how do you clean your mind of the tirade or distracting thoughts you might experience while under pressure?
Because it’s almost impossible to just clear all the thoughts in your head in a single moment, the focus should be to think of as few things as possible. The challenge then becomes choosing which of the many distracting thoughts to focus on. Instead of doing that though, Dr Valiante suggests that you only think of these two things: Target and Strategy.
When feeling distracted and overwhelmed, simply ask yourself, “What’s my target, and what’s my strategy?”
The target you identify could be a zone of the map you’re trying to get to or the next enemy you need to shoot. Identify this first, and fix your focus only on these stimuli. Then, Identify how you’re going to hit that target through your strategy and stick to that strategy.
Let’s walk through a practical example. Let’s say you’re in the middle of a high-stakes competition and you’re playing in front of thousands of spectators for the first time. You make a few mistakes early on, people start to notice, and you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pressure. Thoughts like, “How could I be so careless?” or, “Maybe I’m not good enough to play at this level.” might start to play over and over in your head causing your aim to be distracted.
Before your mind sinks further into the downward spiral, though, you remember your target. Then you remember the strategy you and your team worked on for weeks leading up to this game. Your strategy, in this case, was to approach the enemy base slowly through the east corridor. You know your target and you know your strategy. You shut out all distracting on these two things and nothing else. Your focus is back and you’re ready to make a comeback.
Making an impact on the pro FPS scene has so much to do with developing your aim to be on the next level compared to your competition. As we’ve discussed here though, aiming skills go so far beyond grinding out hours in an aim-trainer.
When it comes to your aiming performance in-game a major key is understanding and improving your concentration skills to a superhuman level.
As you work on eliminating distraction and boosting the different aspects of focus, you will upgrade your aim, react faster to enemies, and perform on a higher level!