Written by Zach McGinnis
It’s quite common for professional athletes to train at high altitudes in order to push their muscles further and perform better at sea level. Similarly, gym regulars will know best that changing up one’s workout is essential in training all parts of your muscle and not hitting a wall or plateau as improvement becomes evident. Counter-Strike might be a video game, but the principle remains the same – there are plenty of things a player can do to train when not in game with their team. Keeping training fresh is key to both maintaining and improving muscle memory, as well as keeping players engaged in their training. Luckily for aspiring and seasoned fraggers alike, plenty of training maps and methods have been tried and tested for years by the Counter-Strike community. This article is going to delve into the multitude of training methods and content available.
We’ve all been there, wondering how on earth we could’ve possibly spent two hours in a deathmatch server. Raw deathmatch is by all means the best method of warmup overall; however, it certainly isn’t the only way a player can train things like aim and movement, nor does it keep the player engaged. Keeping a focused mind while training truly does help in training at any discipline, as it’s human nature for our minds to wander while our bodies go on autopilot. Young competitors will always hear from their coaches that they should practice like they play, and this is no different. Counter-Strike players are going to want to maintain optimal focus at all key points in a round, and as such training while keeping the mind actively engaged through varying tests will help train a player to maintain focus when they’re playing.
A hero to many, a mapmaker known as Ulletical has developed several of the best training maps available in the Steam Workshop. What might be the poster boy of training maps, Aim Botz, is an awesome tool with a truly vast amount of customization options built right into the map itself. This map can be a good start to any training routine or warmup, as some players may have trouble getting the ball rolling in a deathmatch server where everyone else is already a few Mountain Dew’s deep and ready to frag. The customization side of things is very useful as well both in maximizing repetitions and changing things up to keep one’s mind engaged. Another very useful map by the same user called Recoil Master is available to help practice spray patterns at different distances.
Another map in the workshop that might be the most useful overall for pure aim training would be training_aim_csgo2. As the successor to one of the most downloaded training maps of all time, this map has several great drill-style modes for players to train their aim and muscle memory. For a small whack-a-mole-esque training range this map offers things that other target shooting maps do not, such as the “angles and sliding” mode where players can train how to properly scan their crosshair across the screen at different angles. Players also have the option to change the size, speed, and colour of the targets they are shooting at – making this map very useful for players looking to put in proper training hours at any level.
One final training map that can be good practice is one called Fast Aim. This map has been around since the dawn of Counter-Strike in all likelihood, and has been cloned so many times due to its popularity that any version of this island warmup map will be adequate. The version from the above link has plenty of customization and ease-of-use enhancements, and should serve as a good tool if one is in a bit of a pinch for time and needs a quick dynamic warmup if for some reason deathmatch isn’t an option. It is recommended that players try and use both major rifles and pistols if possible.
If a player is ready to put in time training to get better at Counter-Strike, they likely are already aware that there is far more to the game than clicking heads. Though often thought of as more leisure activities or time-wasters, surf and KZ maps can do more than one might think to help a player in an actual game. While surfing isn’t as applicable here, having good clean movement can make a player more efficient in moving quickly around the map or even in peeking angles confidently – and KZ is a great way to practice this. Named as an abbreviation of its creators name: Kreedz, these maps are designed to push the movement and speed mechanics of Counter-Strike in order to move around difficult obstacle courses. The strafing practice and muscle memory players can develop by putting in even a few KZ sessions a week can benefit them exponentially even if they don’t realize it at first. Sometimes a few seconds or a single extra step can be a difference-maker in a round, and having sound movement mechanics built into your playstyle can help eliminate mistakes and make impact plays.
Lastly, retake/execute servers are a great place to put all of the above offline training to use. These servers simulate “real” round situations (real is a term that should be used loosely here as players often play unnecessarily aggressive) so that players can get used to where bombs can be planted, where players are likely to hide in post-plant situations, where rotations are going to be cut off by the opposition, etc. This is a way to get through a lot of gun-round repetitions in a shorter amount of time than it would take to queue up for a match. Much like deathmatch, playing raw retakes all day is only going to help to a certain degree; however, one is more likely to get more realistic gunfights in a retake or execute server than in a deathmatch. Another type of server that is starting to gain traction are called Duels servers. These servers are somewhere in the middle between a deathmatch and a retake, as players get put in different arenas that are placed in different positions that are often contested on popular maps. Players are able to get quality repetitions of actual in game scenario gunfights. Unfortunately, these servers sometimes struggle to gain population and as such can be hard to find reliably at this time.
Malcolm Gladwell suggested that 10,000 hours of good quality practice are necessary to consider oneself world-class in any discipline. That theory has since been contested several times, and most Counter-Strike players don’t have that kind of time to budget; however, it holds value in its principle of quality. The irony of practicing anything is that practicing with quality takes practice in itself. What’s most important is that players find a training/warm-up routine that works for them, and one they can add variables to in order to keep things fresh and keep the mind engaged.