Instantly improve your aim
What if I told you that you could instantly improve your aim? But not just for the short-term, but the long-term as well!
And what if I told you that by learning just a bit about how your mind works, you’d unlock a level of aim consistency that made you feel a bit more like shroud, tenz and other pro players?
Well, there’s one aspect of aiming that you need to work on. And by applying methods from top coaches and psychologists, you can improve your aiming results by 8% in just a few minutes [(2)] and improve your aiming consistency by 64% over the next two weeks [(3)].
So let’s dive into the science behind aiming and uncover what you need to do to improve your aim instantly.
What to focus on while aiming.
If you want to upgrade your aim, we need first to investigate an important question, one that has far more impact on your accuracy than you’d imagine:
What exactly should you focus on while aiming?
Now, the quick answer is to focus on something! In one study, they gave participants different instructions of what to focus on or didn’t provide them with any focus instructions at all. When participants had nothing to focus on, they made the most mistakes.
- Figure 3: https://sci-hub.mksa.top/10.1080/02640414.2015.1012102
And this is likely a problem you suffer from in your own games. Your aim feels inconsistent, not because your aim is bad but because you simply aren’t focused on it at all.
BUT the answer of what to focus on goes much deeper than this. And by focusing on the right cues, you can instantly upgrade your aim.
How aim works
But first, let’s consider how aiming works. You begin by identifying a target, then mentally calculating how to move your hands and fingers, so your crosshair meets that target. Then your mind communicates those instructions to the muscles in your arm and hand as you aim and shoot.
Now, most of this process is very subconscious. You don’t have to tell yourself that this is the enemy or target. You just see them, lock on with your eyes and already know that you need to start shooting.
Similarly, the mental calculation of how much to move your hand, the speed of doing it, and where to stop your hand on the mouse pad requires no thought; you just swipe your hand from one side to the other and start spraying down the enemy.
But what happens when you start to focus on what’s happening? You begin to pay attention to the way your hand moves, the way your forearm slides, and how it all feels as you aim?
Well, in the early stages of learning any motor skill, whether it’s aiming, shooting free throws or learning how to surf, our natural focus is very internal. And if you ever had a coach teach you one of these skills, they often give you instructions to help you feel your way through the movement. You are supposed to focus on your elbow, snapping your wrist, having good posture and so on.
A new approach to learning
But one researcher Gabriele Wulf discovered that this might not be the best approach.
While windsurfing in Italy, he realized that he was far less effective when focusing on his body movements and consciously trying to control them. But when he began to focus on the effect he wanted to have with those movements, his performance improved!
This led to Wulf conducting many studies that investigated this idea. Through it, he discovered something he calls the “constrained action hypothesis.”
Basically, when you try to control your movements consciously, it interferes with the automatic control systems that typically allows you to perform that action.
It’s like if you suddenly start to overthink your own blinking or breathing. These are automatic behaviours, but when you think about them, it suddenly takes up far more mental space and makes it feel like they require more effort just because you’re focused on them.
External vs. Internal Focus
So what is the solution to this?
Well, we already noted that you have to have some sort of focus, but we now know that an internal focus might not work very well.
But in his research, Wulf discovered that when attention is directed externally, performance and even learning are enhanced.
For example, in one study, they told some golfers to swing their arms while they told others to swing their clubs. And that simple shift of focus from the internal focus on their arms to an external focus on their clubs significantly boosted performance and skill retention.
Wulf, G., Lauterbach, B. and Toole, T., Learning Advantages of an External Focus of Attention in Golf, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 1999, 70, 120-126.
Put it to the test
And I encourage you to test this out for yourself.
After this video, hop into an aim trainer or deathmatch and focus on your aim.
At first, focus on internal cues like how your hand feels when you aim, your fingers’ motion, and your arm’s positioning.
Then shift your focus onto external cues and see if it helps. For example, you can focus on the movement of the mouse, your crosshair or the movement of your enemy.
As you do this experiment, also try to identify what one or two external cues work best for you. For some, it might be the crosshair itself; for others, it might be a specific location on the enemy’s body, or perhaps for you, it might not be a particular location on the target but the overall movement and velocity of that target.
Science of aiming
But how much does improving your external focus influence your performance? For example, what can you expect if you make this mental shift in your next ranked game?
Scientists at the National Strength and Conditioning Association in the US sought to measure the improvements in the performance of long jump athletes based on using focus strategies (2).
The athletes who employed external focus strategies to maximize technical ability could jump an average of 200cm that day in their jump tests. The athletes who didn’t use any focus drills before jumping only jumped an average of 185cm in tests that day. This means that in under a day, the athletes who used external focus techniques performed 8% better than those who didn’t.
Now you may be thinking that an 8% improvement isn’t too impressive, but consider what effect these focus techniques could have in your game after just a few weeks. Some research suggests that this kind of external focus can boost not only your short-term performance but also your long-term learning of the skill.
And in 2015, Sports scientists from the Czech Republic studied the effects of external focus strategies on sports which require precise movement (3).. In their experiment, they measured the number of mistakes gymnasts made while performing gymnastic techniques. After a few weeks, they found that those gymnasts who used external focus strategies only made a third of the mistakes of those who didn’t work on external focus skills. This means that the group who used these strategies effectively reduced their errors by 64%.
So begin to put this into action for yourself.
Even though it seems like a minor shift in how you aim, it can lead to a significant boost in your aim if applied correctly.
So experiment with the external cues you can focus on. Then during your aim training and while in-game, keep reminding yourself to focus on those cues. If you lose that focus, simply remind yourself of what you need to focus on. In the short term, you’ll feel a small but powerful boost in your aim, and over time, you’ll begin to unlock layers of skill, helping you climb the ranks, set personal bests in aim trainers and get one step closer to becoming an aiming god.