Setting Your Sights, Part 2: Executing Your Goals

In the last article of this series, I went over how to realize and create your goals. I hope you’ve taken that advice and are now coming into this article with an actual goal in mind! Now that you have your target marked out, let’s find out how you’re going to go about achieving it.

Evaluation

I touched last time on “what’s it worth” and sacrificing in order to accomplish your goal. This stage of goal setting is going to focus on finding out exactly what it’s going to take in order to succeed. Often times this will be a vague estimation, however you have to find out what has worked for others and what can work for you.

So let’s say you’re trying to learn how to make a fancy dinner so you can impress your new in-laws. First, you have to research what they like to eat, if they have food allergies or aversions such as vegetarianism. So you’ve found out that their niece is allergic to peanuts, the mother doesn’t like seafood and the family usually eats turkey and chicken.

Worst dish possible.

Research

The next step in completing your goals is research. You now have to take your goal and find out how to go about it. Research what has worked before, what other people do and if you’re able to find your own path. It makes sense that you have to know how to do something in order to do it, however researching a topic can prevent a lot of time and frustration compared to just jumping in feet first. When doing research, make sure to not just find a single source of information and to gather as much knowledge as possible. This prevents following bad advice, not getting results and failure to obtain your goal. For subjects that are hotly debated, such as eating schedules or routines for weight loss, make a decision based on what you can accommodate.

In the example above, this is finding a recipe for a dish and learning how to properly cook it. You can go to a site that rates and moderates their recipes and get reviews on tips and tweaks to the dish instead of some old crusty cookbook you found in the attic. If you wanted to be a higher Elo in League of Legends, you need to watch professional streams, read guides and find out what works. Listening to a single pro won’t really get you anywhere as their opinions wildly vary from “Just learn to last hit” to “pick a single character” to “learn a bunch of characters in your role”, etc. In this event, find what topics and points are hit on most often in the tips of advice and follow through on those.

I’ve heard about how reliable this guy’s stream is…

Developing Routine

So you know what you want and how to get it. You’re done, right? Well the fun’s just begun for you because the next part is practice and developing a routine. You now know what it’s going to take, so develop a game plan. How are you going to go about this? Will you practice every day, every other day or will you do practicing some days and evaluation other days? Developing a routine is essential to trick your brain’s programming into doing what you want it to do. If you develop a pattern of actions, the pain and discomfort of change go away. If you don’t set up a routine, working towards your goal will always be against the grain, which is the easiest way to allow yourself to give up.

You also want to develop exception policies or any other excuses you may have now and address them. Revisit the things you will have to sacrifice and strike them off one by one. Doing this before you start is critical because if you come across these issues while in the swing of things, they can throw you off. The human brain really likes things to be the same because it requires less energy. This is going to lead you to make sense of really stupid excuses and get behind them. Nip them in the bud and have something to tell yourself to stop the train of thought.

It’s dress like a pirate day, so it’s ok to drink a bottle of Rum.

So if you’re looking to cook that great meal for your in-laws, get into the habit of cooking and preparing your own food. If you’ve never made the dish before, going on the fly isn’t the best way to approach it. Don’t give yourself excuses like “I wasn’t able to get to the grocery store today” or “I didn’t feel like cooking” or “I had to work late” or whatever it is. You knew you had to make this before you did it for them and now you’ve made excuses to do exactly not that.

Monitor Your Progress

A huge and often overlooked factor of goal setting and achievement is progress monitoring. If you’re not monitoring your progress, how can you possibly know if you’ve gotten from point A to point B? Sometimes it is done for you, in the case of ELO numbers being displayed. I can also be the desired outcome, as in the case of weight loss. Even in these casts, you have to monitor the pertinent data. Monitoring what is happening allows you to find the problem spots in what you’re doing and target them. It also gives you something to look back on, which can prove invaluable if and when you start doubting your goal.

Well your attempt at cooking round 1 resulted in the fire department getting called. Clearly improvement is needed! Alright, the second time it came out good except the chicken was dry and sauce was bland. The third time, you’ve gotten it pretty much where you want it, progress! This is pretty cut and dry here, however when working with more data points and fluctuation, monitoring progress is far more important.

I think I put in a little too much salt

So you want to gain some ranked Elo in League of Legends. You start grinding out games, and go on a great winning streak. Then you have your first loss in a while, not a problem.  Then your second. Then your fifth. Then you have some wins and losses mixed together here and there and after a month of play you’re at a 50 ELO net increase. Well if you are monitoring your progress enough, you can how and why you won certain games instead of relying solely on the number ranking. Well, you are 48% win rate on jungle, which is your main role. This means that you’re losing more often than winning, marginally, and the other roles helped you increase Elo. So either improve your jungle play, focus on certain characters you do well with (70% win rate with Trundle and Udyr) instead of characters you feel are good (Lee Sin, Skarner) but can’t play. If you play all lanes equally, but have a 30% support win rate, your support needs work. Monitoring your progress allows this sort of analysis to push yourself towards your goal.

Accountability

The easiest way to stay on track is to be accountable. While it is possible to do things in a vacuum, having someone or something holding you accountable is an excellent motivator. Tell your friends that you are trying to lose some weight and even the act of telling them will make yourself feel guilty eating bad things around them. Maybe they’ll even want to help you in your goal and you can get a great duo queue partner to level up with. Create a blog post on the internet, even if you keep it anonymous, or keep a journal or tell your significant other. Telling someone that you’re looking to change things will give you support to carry on, even if it’s to spite them.

Example Time!

One of my best friends is as avid a League of Legends fan as I am, however he can play a lot more often or at different hours. His strange work schedule put him on at times that I wasn’t available and neither were any of our other friends. Because of this, he primarily plays solo queue ranked games. After hundreds of games, he seemed stuck at a certain point, right around 1350. After that many games, going up or down in Elo takes a pretty big streak or a lot of games with an upward trend, so he had his work cut out for him.

At that point he sat down and really thought about what he could do to improve. He went around on reddit, solomid.net and listened to a lot of pro interviews. He started watching pro streams and matches between high ranking teams and got an idea of what had to be done. The professional knowledge and guide reading didn’t get him too far, though, because a lot of that stuff isn’t really clear information. So he started to look within and track the progress he had been making over several games.

Then a crazy montage went down.

After monitoring his progress he noticed a few trends in his gameplay. The first trend was that he was a main top laner with a negative win rate on top lane. He was around a 48% on top lane and only a 51% win rate on his main champion at the time, Nidalee. That means that over the 150 or so games he played as her, he’s only won 1.5 games more in Elo (+15 net). A 15 net Elo on a main character means you’re stabilized and have to increase your skill with them or switch because it’s not working at your skill level. He noticed that he was very positive with Cho’Gath and Jarvan on top, despite their lack of presence in the current meta.

The next trend he noticed was that his support role was at a 24% win rate, with over a quarter of his games played as support. You can’t always choose what role you get to play in ranked, so he found a big problem area here. Support is usually for the last pick, but he found himself giving the last pick a lane he wasn’t comfortable with and taking support for himself. Normally this is fine, but with such a low success rate on support, he was dooming himself most games.

He then noticed that when he lost two or more games in a row, he usually didn’t win again until the next day. This means that after losing a particularly bad game or trying set of games, he went on tilt mode. From here he did badly in games because he’d given up before the game even started.

The last trend he noticed is that over a period of his ranked games, he’d played 83 different characters. Nobody has a mastery or proficiency on 83 characters. This means he was picking characters that were flavor of the month and deemed “overpowered” with no actual idea on how to play them. This leads to losses.

Gotta play ’em all

So with all of these trends he’d noticed, he developed a solution. He stopped playing his main, Nidalee, because he felt he couldn’t impact a team enough to win most games. He switched into a new set of top laners that he did well on and understood, writing down a list of a few that he wanted to play. Then he made a 2 loss ranked limit and worked on his support in normal games. All in all, he shot up to the low 1600’s and has a new set of goals and challenges to overcome now.

Tune back in next time on how to continue setting goals and setting yourself up for success. If you have any goals you want help with, want to talk about them or have me keep you accountable, shoot me a line at hahanoreplays@gmail.com

Setting Your Sights, Part 1: Realizing Your Goals

Goal setting is one of the strongest ways to motivate ourselves, yet if done improperly can completely undo any progress desired. Learning how to realize, set, achieve and continue achieving goals set out for yourself proves to be a strong ally in life and league. Properly implementing this technique is important enough that I will be breaking this segment down into three separate parts: realizing your goals, executing your goals and continuing your progress.

Realizing Your Goals

As I have stressed before, the basis for improvement in anything is sound fundamentals. The most basic start of goal setting is to realize your goals. While this sounds fairly straightforward, properly evaluating the what and why of a goal determines how successful you will be. The primary reason goals fail is improperly realizing what you want, so setting great goals and milestones for yourself starts with some thought.

Finding What you Want

Seems like an easy first step. What is it that you want? Get some ideas together of what you would like and then refine them. Saying something as vague as “I want to be smarter” or “I want to be better at League of Legends” does you no good. You must be able to measure what it is you’re looking to achieve or the line can be blurred enough to discourage yourself from accomplishing the goal. If you want to be smarter, try something like “I want to go back to college and get a Master’s” and for League maybe “I would like to be 1800 ELO.” These goals are far more clear cut and indicate something to actually work towards instead of a vague concept.

You did it!

Finding Why you Want

This is the most crucial step and requires a lot of thought and analysis of yourself. A strong motivator and reason is the only way to continually achieve and push towards your goal. You can have set backs, hardship, physical and/or mental pain and a lot of doubts along the way. When faced with a wall of opposition, “it would be nice” tends to fizzle out. Dive deep and find that source of inspiration, grab ahold of it and then find ways to harness that.

Let’s take a look at the League of Legends example. Your first thoughts are “Hey, I want to get better.” Naturally, you can say “Well, I want to be 1800 Elo, I’m currently 1400” because it’s a relatively effective indicator of skill. So now I challenge you with the question of why? Why do you want to be 1800 Elo? You must be able to produce a great answer to this or you’ve already failed. Do you want it because you feel others will respect you more? Do you feel that you should have that level of competency after playing so long? How about proving someone wrong who thinks you’re bad, that’s a good one, right?

Screw you, Chad. I can Lego your chest open!

The why part needs to be properly dissected to find out your true intentions. Let’s say you wanted to lose some weight. Well why do you want to lose the weight? Are you looking to be slimmer in order to attract a new girlfriend? Perhaps then some confidence boosting, a change in hygeine habits or simply going out more often can also help that problem. Do you want to be healthier? Well a change in eating and sleeping habits is an easy way to accomplish that, and leaks over into losing weight as well. Do you want to look like the dudes on the magazine covers or Bradley Cooper? Well here a red flag might fly up, because you have to figure out why you want that. If you feel that society and women want that, a new approach needs to be taken. Trying to lose weight because you feel you should be a six pack carrying, rugged god is an awful reason.

Careful thought and digging into why you want to have whatever it is you want is required. This is because often times a lot of thought is put into the image behind what you’d like and less time into what you’re actually after. You might think losing weight means that women will throw themselves at you. You’re a real person and know that isn’t true, but some small part of your brain translates more attention to being swooned over. Getting a higher Elo won’t mean that people start to bow down to you as king player. You might get some “wow, nice rank,” from your friends, but if you’re looking for compliments, gaining 400 Elo isn’t the way to get them. This part is so important, so please, please stop and critically think about why you want your goal and what you think will come of it.

Determining if it’s Realistic

Determining if your goal is attainable dictates the success you’ll have. It’s pretty easy to set the bar really high, and not just hyperbole such as “My goal is to be on M5 as their jungler!” That example is obviously exaggerated, it relies on too many factors to really be a goal, more of an inspiration or dream. It would require their jungler leaving and you being randomly selected, not to mention the fact you might not live in Europe to play with them anyway.

I want to do a crudely photoshopped kickflip over the grand canyon

However, even more tame goals can be unrealistic in a small enough time frame. Saying you’d like to be 2000 Elo when you’re only 1200 after hundreds of games played is not realistic. While you’ll be able to get there with enough work, setting your sights that high is really just a deterrent. What will likely happen is that fifty games later you’re 1350 Elo, working hard and then sit back and realize you’re still 650 away! Just like if you wanted to lose twenty pounds in a week, putting yourself to a really high standard isn’t a safe way to accomplish anything. The only thing an unrealistic goal proves to do is demotivate, so keep it within reason.

Determine the Worth

Any attempts to reach a goal requires change. You cannot do the same thing you’ve been doing and somehow, magically achieve what you want. No sense of entitlement will grant you skill at something you haven’t practiced or trained. With change comes a sacrifice, sometimes good and sometimes bad. You must find what you’re sacrificing and determine if it’s actually worth it. If you’re losing weight, maybe you’re sacrificing late nights, parties, good-but-bad food, alcohol or time. Is not going out with your friends a few nights a week and getting loaded worth looking better to you? Is having an hour or more less per day because you want to exercise worth getting in shape for you?

Wrapping it Together

I’m going to put out and walk you through one of my more recents goal setting thoughts. My goal was to work for Riot. I wanted to work in a place where everyone was passionate and enthusiastic, talked about games all day and were generally just laid back. Add to this the prestige of the huge up and coming company and adoration of millions of fans and why wouldn’t you want to work there? So my goal was refined into being a content producer for Riot. I already write articles, make videos, create guides, provide commentary on matches, mentor other players and help other content creators refine their stuff. I felt that if I had more time to work on these things, I could create even more amazing things for everyone to enjoy.

Why did I want this? Well, I really wanted my content to shine through and help people. I absolutely love and live to help everyone. I’m not without fault and sometimes get angry, but really I just want to be the guy that people come to for answers, insight and a good time. I also would love a work environment where I had more in common with those I work with, and that I could let myself flourish in. To add to the pile, yes, I wanted my name to be out there. I want people to know my name, and I would love to be the Day[9] of League of Legends.

Pictured: Not Me

So I have some intense desires and a goal, so why the disconnect? Well, Riot requires its employees to relocate to California, and I have a lot of school loans. The sacrifice involved is leaving friends I’m still close with after 10+ years of a relationship, asking my fiance to pick up her life and move and leaving my family behind. I also have the added stress of needing to steadily pay back these loans and whether Riot offers a long term solution like engineering experience at my current company would. In the end, I determined that I wasn’t really willing to make those sacrifices and would only work if I was able to stay around here.

So you can see how I ran my goal through the gambit and eventually turned it away. I still have the dream to work there one day, but I am unwilling do deal with the sacrifice I have to make. Next time, I’ll be going over what happens when you do embrace a goal and how to go about executing it. Until then, think of what you’d like for yourself and more importantly, why you want it.

A Subtle Dagger – The Big Impact of Your Small Words

Often times a few small words or a comment on a situation can drastically change the mood of the game. While there is obvious frustration on both sides when something bad occurs, the best way to ruin the game is commenting on it. Most summoners understand that blatant harassment and trolling are unacceptable, however the subtle dagger is much harder to realize. How much does the in-game chat actually impact your team and can you avoid tilting your own team?

To What End

The first question you have to ask before you hit the enter key is “To what end?” What are you looking to get out of this exchange of words? If the answer is “I want to feel better about this situation by letting someone know I’m disappointed” then congratulations, you’ve seen through a variety of ways to say this information without those exact words! Clearly nobody opens up all chat and says the statement above, however many comments ring that same bell.

If your support dies wandering into river to facecheck a bush with mid MIA, telling them “dude wtf mid was mia” doesn’t resolve anything. What are you looking to say with that comment? Clearly the support is now aware that mid was bottom waiting in that bush, so the informative part of your statement is gone. This leaves us with “dude wtf.” Well that’s not helping anyone but you.

 

Not picture: Help

So let’s just say you left it with “mid was mia.” Well thanks to the power of perception, when someone reads the text in game it’s put into their frame of mind. This is a problem with email and text communication as the communicator cannot indicate tone. You might be saying the nicest and most polite way like “hey, next time can you just go the safe way?” but as long as you’re referencing that scenario, they will read it negatively. This makes the last statement equivalent to saying something along the lines of ‘didn’t you look at the map, you idiot?’ Whether you meant that or not, saying anything directly after the incident is an awful idea.

Paper Tigers

The next consideration is a paper tiger or ‘living in a glass house’ concept. Your words are being said to them most times that is all it takes to set them into flames. Now think about a scenario where you’re not doing well, anything said to you at this time just makes you angrier. Yet the very next game you queue up you sling some “are you serious, dude, just play safe” at your failing top lane. However, once you start that flame, most times it’s only a matter of time before the rest of you are ashes.

 

Fierce and Fragile

One comment on a failing lane or jungle will lead your entire team to think that you’re an asshat, your teammate is actually bad or both. Having a team that thinks you’re a jerk combined with “oh, another game with a baddie” gives a very bad mindset to your allies. They can now blame the entire game on that one person and the root of this game’s problems is from that jack wagon on top lane! Bickering and fighting over silly points also demoralizes your team as nobody is willing to give it their all if the team as a whole is acting like a bunch of children with scraped knees.

Like Moths to Flame

Once that flame is started, everyone else will be drawn to it. You start it off with “omg dude, mid was mia” and then the support snaps back “well if MID could call mia’s and follow his lane, we wouldn’t have this problem!” Now mid lane is upset because they were doing well in lane and bottom didn’t see the mia. Or perhaps they are struggling because they’ve been chain ganked by top and jungler. Either way, once that fire is lit it becomes infinitely easier to start throwing crap on everyone.

In Your Hands

So what can you do about this? Disable your chat? Mute everyone on your team? Be overly enthusiastic about the game and a cheerleader? While the last option is a step in the right direction, that won’t work most times either. The best way to approach the chat is to just let it go. Yes, they died. Sure, they’re feeding. If you were trying to lane and the opponent was better or you were camped or whatever else, how would you like getting grilled for poor performance? If you weren’t thinking and just facechecked a bush to ward and died, do you really want to hear about it? Of course you don’t! Most of the time people are aware that they’ve messed something up.

 

I didn’t dodge the grab? You don’t say…

This doesn’t necessarily mean talk to others as you’d like to be talked to. The lack of tone and expression on the internet doesn’t really allow this. You have to assume everyone on the internet you don’t know is a sensitive little flower that causes nuclear destruction when the breeze blows. You can offer words of encouragement, tell someone they did a good job, assure people that you can still win the game or simply be silent. Lashing out against someone else for poor performance does nothing but make you feel better and them feel worse. That is pretty straightforward, however you have to remember their performance is directly related to whether you win or lose this game.

A torch to end all torches

A subtle dagger is just as deadly as full on bashing. Something as simple as “…” at the wrong time can absolutely set someone off on a rampage. Be careful on the expressions you choose to use, if any, and the times you choose to use them. Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish by saying anything at all, and if there is a better way to approach it. Hostility is the natural response to harsh criticism and the lack of tone makes any comment come across how the reader is feeling at that point in time. Be the better player by choosing your words and times carefully.

Analysis Paralysis – Dumbing it Down to Build Your Foundation

The internet is a wonderful source of information, depth and strategy for nearly anything you can imagine. This access to information on a quick and reliable platform certainly has its upsides, however it can lead to an overload of information. In addition to an overload of information, there can also be misinformation spread by the person(s) that can make their voice the most heard. Having too much to think about and a lack of focus causes a phenomena called analysis paralysis, in which the interpreter of data is confused by the bombardment of information.

The Warning Signs

There are indicators of analysis paralysis seen in someone that is trying to better themselves. The warning signs are typically going into minute details while ignoring the broad strokes. Everyone knows that person that needs the stars to align in order to get into something. You’re starting running? Well you need to get running shoes, but not any ones, get the $150 pair that RunGuyDave12 says are mandatory. Then you’ll need running clothes, you can’t just go running in jeans or those beat up shorts, you have to have the drywick underarmor for performance enhancement. How many sports players in commercials do you see wearing paint stained sweatpants? Oh and you can run longer if you’re listening to your favorite jams and pumping yourself up, so you should get an iPod arm strap and now you need new headphones because your other ones might fall out. Well what if it’s raining and you want to run? I guess you should get a gym membership or a treadmill for your house, but you can’t just go to that smelly $10/mo gym, that’s where “casual” exercisers and slackers go. You need to be going to the top of the line new facility down the street for $50/mo, that’s where the real exercisers go.

Not pictured: sweatpants and a hoodie

So you’ve got your shoes, running clothes, iPod strap and headphones and a gym membership. What’s missing? Well, you know, actually running. So much thought has gone into how to increase performance that you haven’t considered that maybe you can run in those beat up old sweats and practice your form. Maybe your feet and shins hurt because you are running flatfooted or you’re not used to the exercise. While this example may seem hyperbolic to those who have ever ran for exercise, this is a mindset many take for all aspects of life. It lacks a feedback loop that diagnoses actual problems and finds solutions.

The League of Legends “Runner”

Since I like to apply life to league, let’s look at League of Legends equivalent of the above now. A standard player will read guides, watch professionals play and read up on the game a little bit. They’ll see these players doing and saying really remarkable stuff and will obviously want to replicate it. So when you’re laning you need to be harassing your laner and winning your lane. But you also see when M5 runs top they invade the enemy jungle and take their golems, so when you’re top you want to do that. Top laners also run teleport and do awesome bottom lane ganks and dragon control, so you should run teleport. Are you a jungler? Well maybe you should be invading a whole bunch and messing up their jungle. How about playing Maokai, he’s good at ganking right? You need to be ganking all the time. No just counter ganking. No, invading and map control. Mid? Gotta be hyper aggressive, it’s how Regibro does it. Nah, maybe a little passive with Anivia, Froggen is considered real good, right? Curse has some great dragon control, we should focus on early dragons and doing them just as they spawn! The jungle is about buff control only, we need to have the strictest timers on our buffs possible! That Nunu/Kog’Maw bottom lane is amazing, we should try to run it all the time. But it’s weak early and Leona and Alistar are amazing, let’s do a kill lane! Man, this matchup in lane is considered weak in my favor. Strong in my favor. This guy counters them in lane! Maybe I should choose a safer character to play… 

Dude, CLG runs three teleports. We can totally do the same thing!

Alright.  Clearly you can see there’s an abundance of information and things you can work on. What’s left out of all of these descriptions? Fundamentals such as farming and warding are left entirely out of this. Far too often players focus on things they could be doing to change the game like counter picking lanes and roaming. The reason these things work at the professional level is because they’re good at doing whatever the want while maintaining farm. Emphasis on fundamentals is not glorified most times (except maybe some comments about how well Doublelift can do it) and is swept under the rug. However, if you are able to farm better than your opponent and can ward properly, you can make it to the higher ELOs. Aside from ELO, having sound fundamentals is key to improving because of the feedback loop.

The Feedback Loop

The feedback loop is how you can diagnose and address problems in your performance. By having sound farming and warding skills, you’re removing variables. Why did you lose this game? Well you were only 10 CS behind where you should be and warded well enough to avoid most ganks. This means that those aren’t reasons you lost this game and maybe you lost because you didn’t shut down the opposing laner, join teamfights, contest dragon, etc. But if you are at 82 CS at the fifteen minute mark, you’re missing a substantial amount of income and now did you lose the game because you didn’t have that money or because of any of the above reasons? Having strong fundamentals in lane helps you find your actual problems and put them through revision.

The 2/6 has more gold than the 13/7 because he didn’t stop farming.

Dumb It Down

The point of this article is to keep you out of analysis paralysis, or letting too many different options stop you from fixing something that can be much simpler. If you’re not able to farm with 90% efficiency (you miss maybe one creep in a wave of 6), work on your farm. If you’re not buying wards and being ganked or losing map control because of it, learn to ward. Map objectives, lane harassment, counter picks, lane matchups, roaming, counter jungling, buff control and teamfighting can take a back seat to these issues. Get to great farming and warding and I will guarantee your game will not only improve, but it will become easier to spot errors in your play.

Picture Perfect – How Mental Imagery Can Help You

Mental imagery is an often overlooked aspect of improvement and learning. When looking to improve, most seek to better their mechanical skills, snap judgment and knowledge pool. While these are all areas that should be worked on, imagining what you can do to better yourself and picturing it is just as important as any of these. If you can’t picture in your mind, without assistance, how something should look and yourself doing it – how will you be able to actually do it? In this article I’m going to go over mental imagination and how it can improve your game and more.

Mental Imagery?

I threw that term around a bit, and it can be a bit vague. Are you supposed to have pictures in your head? Imagine scenarios that could happen? Project and see into the future like a demon time travel wizard, David Blaine? Unless you can actually see into the future, I mean I want you to play a movie in your head. Close your eyes and imagine what it is you want to do. At first, the images you come up with will be brief glimpses, but I am at the point where I play a full-fledged scenario out in my head entirely. This can be applied to anything you want to do whether it’s perfecting your form lifting weights to envisioning your penalty kick soaring in a wicked arc over the defender’s heads or how perfect the filing system that you spent all month organizing will look.

Monkey See

Obviously, the most critical part of this process is watching replays, videos, gameplay, tournaments or anything relevent to what you want to be better at. You cannot picture perfect serving form in tennis if you’ve never seen a match being played. Similarly, you can’t picture vaulting over Baron wall with a Malphite ultimate and stealing it and picking up kills if you didn’t know Malphite’s ultimate went through walls. Fortunately, League is a very open game with a huge community that shares their accomplishments.  This makes amazing plays more accessible to the casual user, enabling them to envision a stronger play. The Malphite example is a facepalm to most people because we’ve all seen examples of epic Baron steals on youtube ad infinitum. But, imagine someone who doesn’t ever watch videos and replays – they may not think the ult goes through walls.

Monkey Do

So, how do you get this mental reel going? More importantly, what do you picture and why? Let’s take a look at the first question – how to get this going. The best way to get the imagery going is to first find out what you want to accomplish. Then, once you have a goal in mind, find out how it’s done, what it looks like or think about how you’d go about it. This two-part approach will get you the results you’re looking for quickly. Let’s take a look at an example to solidify this imagery:

You’re playing Ahri in mid. The enemy has an Nautilus jungle and you’re laning against a Zyra. You’ve done harassment and whatnot to Zyra and now Nautilus is coming for you.  But you’ve seen this before a hundred times. Activating your ultimate you dodge off to the side of the anchor, tossing a charm to bring Zyra closer and an orb hitting at the same time. The snare flies out and you dodge back, away from Nautilus. Zyra is now retreating and you zip forward with your final burst, catching another orb for the kill and flashing out of Nautilus’ second anchor flying at your face, a clean kill.

She seems a bit on the angry side.

While I might have a taste for the dramatic there, that scenario will arise and if you can picture it, you’re more prepared than not. If you don’t imagine using your character in unique and effective ways, it will be hard to implement it on the fly. This example is a lot more detail than you may originally expect, but when you’re at the loading screen let your mind come up with scenarios. What happens if their Ashe fires an arrow up or if you are going for a kill and the jungler pops out? How about when top roams down or when you go to steal their blue. Picture not only the actions there, but also the reactions and throw scenarios together.  You may mess up, they may react differently, but either way you’re already more prepared for the situation.

This can be applied to whatever you’d like in League. Picture using a Flash/Shurelyia’s into Skarner grab and dragging them to their death. You’re Alistar and no carry dies on your watch! I will obliterate their jungler as Shyvana, I can picture them now doing their red and crapping themselves when a dragon flies over the wall. I can see the gold flying after every minion kill – didn’t even miss one on bottom lane. That Rumble ult dropped on top of their team, slowing their escape as I maniacally laugh chasing them with a flamethrower.  Get creative and put a video to your goals.

Feel It

That’s right, feel it. You watch the hail mary with a minute on the clock in slow motion flying to the wide receiver – touchdown and the crowd goes wild. Doublelift pops his ultimate, Tumbles around sniping off their support and FLASHES OVER THE ULT FOR THE DOUBLE, OH MY GOURDDDDD. The surge of adrenaline, the rush of excitement and the knowledge that you did something truly spectacular – that’s what I want you to feel.  It will keep your thirst for the amazing going and you have to feel it whether you’re in front of 100,000 people or alone in your basement at 3 AM in your underwear. Feeling the emotional and physical rush of doing something awesome is unmatched, so get your taste.

Conclusion

Running a movie through your head about what you can and will accomplish will absolutely vault your game to the next level. It’s important to see what you can accomplish and then do it. You shouldn’t be picturing the whole 45 minute game in your head, but pick out that five seconds or so of actions and reactions and you will be a lot stronger for it. Most importantly, remember the glory and the feeling of power from living out your mental image. It will keep you coming back for more.