Amateur Coach Diaries: Practice Habits Part 3
When I was about 12 years old, I wanted to be a pitcher for my little league team. My dad was one of the coaches of this team. We had one of those pitch-back net devices in the backyard, so he made a 18in by 18in square in the netting with a rope and then put a stick 50 feet away from the net. He told me I had to hit the square 25 times in a row before he would let me pitch. He told me how my grandfather did the same thing with my uncle and I would have to do the same. I can’t remember if I got it or not, to be honest I only remember that I took a pitch to the head while at bat during fall ball that year. Anyways, the morale of the story is that Baseball takes 10 players on the field to play the game. 9 people in the field, and 1 at bat. But when I was practicing that one aspect of the game, just myself and the net, it only took 1 person and a practice device. This is exactly the same as having players practice in a custom game. Custom games can be useful in many different ways: jungle clears, lvl 1’s, CSing, warming up, and lane swaps.
One of the first practices I had with my team was a lane swapping practice. We pulled up LCS vods of lane swaps and grinded out the timing. I’m not going to go into the logistics, but basically we spent that night, practicing lane swaps. I could tell through vod reviews of even the best amateur teams, we had the best lane swap timing in all the amateur scene. We were getting 30-second tempo swings off the first turret and sometimes it would lead into a sub 15-minute inhib turret. The thing that confused me was that teams we played our lane swap against, still had a slow lane swap a week after we played them.
In a meta that relies on tempo and getting the turret down the fastest, you’d think teams would want to figure out how to replicate it. It comes down to players not wanting to go into custom game after custom game. So instead, the team just scrims with the same slow lane swap they ran the week before. Obviously there is more to do in customs then lane swaps, but that is a great way to use them. The other night, one of our junglers and I were working on a new jungle pick. We played maybe 20-30 custom games of the jungle pick with different runes/masteries/skill orders/ camp orders. You can also practice timing for a level 1 invade. Sometimes what you draw on rift kit won’t translate on to the game field when the pressure is on. Customs are also a great way to try out new match-ups or train a player in a certain match-up. Maybe they need to work on their Ahri into Zed or their Cass into Ryze.
There are so many uses for customs, and a lot of amateur teams just refuse to use them. Well, surprise, this is the closest we are getting to sandbox mode for now. “Why would we go into customs when we could have a scrim block?” Because if you want to make something game ready, you need to practice it before the scrim for it to be effective. I mean, I’m not saying make your team practice a lane swap to their point where they can get sub 3:30 times 25 times in a row. But hell, you do you, coach. You do you. The next article will be about spamming the restart button. See you then!