No music. No other apps, games, or programs. Phones away. Strategize, practice, skill up. Game for hours and hours every day. This is your job now. (Aside from school—that’s still your first job.)

This is essentially what the best of the best Varsity esports teams do, and certainly what some of them are doing right now as they gear up for the next season of collegiate eSports. The season is six weeks long, with practices and competitions throughout. If the team makes it to the postseason, they have another week of wild card tournaments, followed by a four-day championship. This year, the season will likely look a little different, depending on how colleges handle their teams and clubs in the midst of the pandemic. But regardless of what the season will specifically look like—whether or not in-person events will happen, or even whether teams will practice in-person together—you can bet all Varsity teams are getting into the zone and preparing to seize their next chance to reach the top of the field.

So, how exactly do you train for Varsity eSports?

Hone individual skills
First things first: make sure you’re sharpening every tool you have as a player. You know what role you have on the team and what your strengths and weaknesses are. To prepare for the season well, you must spend time really homing in on the skills you need to improve in order to take your gaming up a notch.

Learn the characters
Most games have lots of players. Popular Varsity team games like League of Legends have hundreds. The success of your team does in fact ride in part on how well your team knows the characters in the game—what those characters’ strengths are, how they fight, what moves they tend to use, where they will show up, what other characters they work with, what they’re after, and so on. The best way to be able to strategize in-game and make successful choices is to know the characters like the back of your own hand.

Practice every single day
You might read that and say, “Duh.” But when we say practice, we mean practice, practice, practice . . . and then practice some more. The top professional gamers practice up to 12 hours a day. Now, that’s a lot. When you’re at college, schoolwork and your degree has got to be your top priority, so practicing for that many hours may not be feasible. But there are certainly Varsity teams that do it and certainly individual members who do that and then some. For other sports, your body limits how many hours you can practice for. Not so with eSports (or at least not so much), and the more you practice, the better your skills and strategizing get, and the more you win and your team can win.

Practice cooperating, communicating and strategizing as a team
As much as you can work on your own as an individual gamer and improve from there, the real trick to having a winning Varsity team is not whether or not each individual team member is the best on their own—it’s whether or not your team is the best together. You really have to work together and work at working together, so that you know how to best communicate, cooperate, and strategize as an ensemble.

Scrimmage, run drills
Just like in any other sport, running drills and playing scrimmages are what help you as a team learn the intricacies of certain plays and how you work together. They help you know what it feels like in real-time, and how you can best change strategy together mid-game when you need to. If your team hasn’t started scrimmaging and running drills together yet, definitely find yourself a group who will do that with you until your team can.

Workout daily
Some coaches won’t emphasize the importance of getting a physical workout in, but a lot will—and we will. You definitely need to practice gaming for hours every day to get to be your best, but you can’t game your best if your body isn’t getting what it needs to stay healthy. And sitting for that many hours, with lots of tension to boot, will do a number on your body. Make sure that while you’re in training mode, you utilize at least one of your breaks between gaming sessions to move your body and get that blood flowing.

What else is your team doing to train for the season ahead? Comment below…