Staying on top of your game at all times is hard. No matter what, your brain can only execute tasks in intervals.
The brain needs sleep, nutrition, oxygen, and breaks among other things to operate on optimal levels.
If you want to step up your mental performance as a gamer, keep reading as we will break down what exactly is needed. In the end, you should have an idea of how to get your mind as close as possible to the winning mindset.
Sleep is the best way to recharge and cleanse your brain, muscles, and entire body. Quality sleep (7-9 hours a night) is vital to ace your performance. It’s like pressing a reset button and spawning with a full HP.
To excel in your sleep, avoid caffeine, alcohol, or other substances before bed. Instead, try to find more natural ways to master your sleep.
Do not expose your eyes to blue light at least 1 hour before bedtime. This, unfortunately, includes your computer and phone screens. Blue light activates your brain and fools it into thinking it is daytime. Instead, try reading or meditating. Make sure your room is as dark as possible.
And lastly, find a routine and stick to it. You should not compensate for bad night sleep by taking naps or going to bed earlier. In fact, the best advice is “Do nothing”. Stanford University professor Andrew Huberman and Dr. Matthew Walker discuss tips, importance, and science behind sleep in their podcast. We recommend every minute of it.
Nutrition & Hydration
These are as important as quality sleep. What you eat and drink makes a big difference to your performance. Healthline is a very reputable source of health-related information. Find out which 11 foods can benefit your brain performance.
These include foods with omega 3, such as fish. Snacking nuts or seeds or even blueberries are beneficial. Coffee in moderation has also studied benefits due to its caffeine and antioxidants. A good rule of thumb is 3+3 when it comes to scheduling your meals. Eat 3 larger meals and 3 light snacks per day to stay on top of your game.
Lastly, drink plenty of water. 2-3 liters a day at least.
Dehydration can have dire consequences on our brain. These include lack of focus, fatigue, headaches, or slowed-down reaction speed. All of which are vital for your performance in real action.
You will benefit from this. Several studies show at least 150 minutes of weekly cardio impacts your mental health positively. Anything that increases your heartbeat and breathing, frequency counts.
Go for a jog, to the gym, take a hike in the forest, ride a bike, swim or join a sports team. It is best to split your activities throughout the week.
Developing a routine around physical exercise breaks your day from gaming. This is another crucial piece on mastering mental performance, as the next part will show.
Take regular breaks
To summarize how important taking breaks is, we will quote Ph.D. Stew Friedman. He is the director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project at the University of Pennsylvania.
The mind needs rest. Research shows that after you take a mental time-out, you are better at creative thinking and coming up with solutions and new ideas, and you feel more content
This applies to gaming just as well as anything else that needs your brain’s computing power.
General consensus around the subject is to take breaks at least every 90 minutes. An opportunity for some of that previously mentioned physical exercise.
Optimize your gaming space
Open the window to get more oxygen for your brain. Invest in an ergonomic chair and a table that enables good posture. Limit any external noises by closing the doors, turning off the TV as well as music. Getting a quality headset will help you immerse into the game and block unwanted noise. Distractions to your brain mean distractions to your game.
Play with new people
Getting out of your comfort zone can feel awkward. There is some merit for it though. First of all, you will have to communicate less friendly and more professionally.
There is a reason why communication in the military is so strict. Speaking the same language with little to no room for human error keeps everyone aligned. Your commands will be clear to others and vice versa.
Swapping your crew also broadens your views from a strategic standpoint. It might also help you optimize game theory as you learn new tricks and game plans.
So play the occasional session with randoms with an open mind. It can help you step up your own game.
Get a coach
Once you have done everything there is to do alone, it’s time to bring in external forces. First of all a coach will make sure you follow the six points listed above. We often need an external motivator to push ourselves to the limit. A coach can analyze your game, study insights on your competitor, provide data, and much more.
Finding your and your teammates’ weaknesses and strengths is a key to progress. When you and your team are busy playing, a coach will observe what you do, when you do it, and how you do it. Trimming repeated mistakes and offering alternative strategies helps you evolve.
Finally, having a coach means having someone to talk to. If something is impacting your performance negatively, you can speak out about it. Talking about issues and being heard is proven to reduce mental baggage.
Now you have the tools and tips to step your mental game up. You can start by creating a clear plan about your next steps. Find time to exercise, pay attention to what you eat, and give your brain a rest.
This includes sleeping as well as breaks throughout the day.
And if you are thinking about a professional esports career, read our guide on “How to become a pro gamer“.