Hi there. I’m Freddy, an old-school paintballer with almost two decades of experience, so I know a few things about paintball strategies.
I’ll let you know my top 24 tips to dominate on the paintball field.
Most paintballers try to play paintball without any plan to win. If you want to win, you have to be competitive. Here are the most effective winning strategies for beginners and professionals.
Top 24 Paintball Tactics
#1 Know the rules of the game
Like every game, paintball has strict rules that everyone should follow.
Typically, all fields have the same game rules, but some places have different directions according to the field’s location and structure.
Often a knowledgeable referee will guide you, and you must follow their directions and guidelines properly. Learn more about gameplay and rules here.
#2 Visit the field
If you are new to the field, visit it first to familiarize yourself with the layout, and you will know the best hiding places, routes, and obstacles beforehand. You have the upper hand if you know the entire field and your opponents don’t. The exercise also boosts your confidence, trains you to create mental maps, and increases your intuition during play.
#3 Make a plan
Create a plan with your teammates on the objective and how you will go about it. The ability to plan, communicate and work together as a synchronized unit separates the pros from the rest. Failure to plan leaves each player running around with very different objectives. It’s hard to win if your team doesn’t have a coordinated effort towards any goal.
#4 Safety always comes first
Have you ever heard the phrase “won the battle, but lost the war”?
Do not compromise on safety to win a game! You don’t want to do anything stupid, like taking off your mask during a game to have better visibility. Next thing you know, you get shot in the face and end up blind for the rest of your life. Then you can’t play paintball anymore. It’s never worth it to risk injuries for a single second. Paintball is no joke.
Take precautions and follow all safety directions. There is always some risk; that’s life, but at least the chances are much better than you can safely play paintball for years to come.
Here are a few safety tips to follow:
- Please don’t take off your mask during a game, as it can lead to severe injuries. Depending on where a paintball hits you, it can lead to bruising, blindness, stroke, or even death. That’s why you always wear a protective paintball mask. If you have problems breathing or the goggle fogs up, consider a better-ventilated paintball goggle like the Dye i5 or Virtue VIO Ascend.
- Follow the field rules, and don’t climb on trees or rock formations if they don’t allow it.
- Wear a protective mask, neck protector, vest, proper shoes, and gloves.
- Wear a groin cup to keep your private parts protected.
- Use barrel cover out of the field so you don’t accidentally shoot someone or something.
- Your marker should have not more than allowed FPS.
- Don’t use frozen paintballs, marbles, pepper balls, or any other type of ammunition other than approved paintballs.
Please read our detailed guide about paintball safety and danger for more information.
#5 Ensure that all your equipment works:
Of course, the essential gear includes a paintball marker, mask, air tank, hopper, and paint. Ensure that everything is working before your game. Keep your goggle lens clean, so it doesn’t fog up. Ensure the barrel is clean and there is no paint or debris in your marker. Also, consider all the things that can malfunction during a match that most players wouldn’t think of. For example, if you use an electronic hopper and suddenly have flat batteries, your paintball won’t fire, and you lose the game. If that’s the case, you may want to bring some spare batteries. Having enough co2 or compressed air in your tank and enough ammo in your hopper are other things to keep in mind. Also, storing your equipment correctly and carrying it in bags reduce the risk of getting damaged.
#6 Use an anti-fog paintball mask
Anti-fog paintball goggles reduce the chances of fogging, so you are less likely to have it ruin your visibility. Your eyes are crucial when playing; you will be a sitting target for your opponents without good vision. However, if you are wearing an anti-fog lens and the weather conditions change, causing all your opponents’ regular masks to fog up, you can storm the front and snipe down your opponents like shooting fish in a barrel.
Dual-pane thermal lenses are the best to resist fog.
#7 Assign markers according to the player’s position
After you have laid a plan, you have to assign markers according to each player’s role and position, as it is an essential part of a good paintball strategy.
Fronts should use paintball markers with a quick fire rate. During a shoot-out, a faster firing rate is an advantage. Imagine one player firing one shot per second with a manual gun versus a player with a fully electronic paintball gun that fires 20 times per second.
The mid-players should focus on accuracy and reliability to quickly eliminate any moving opposition.
Floaters and insert players can use any paintball marker, but lightweight gear and high speed are preferable.
Snipers should use the most accurate long-range paintball markers.
#8 Choose the right paintballs:
Choosing the right paintballs will improve the accuracy of your shots. I advise you to try several brands and practice shooting at a target to determine the most accurate. Once you decide on a brand of paintballs, carrying as much paint as possible will reduce the chance of running out of ammo. A pro player should never run out of paint.
#9 Be confident
Don’t be afraid. Be confident. Confidence increase over time as you gain more experience and hone your skills.
A player always scared of being hit will not be in the right mindset to win. Like in any game, confidence is key to playing with intuition and dominating your opponents.
#10 Communicate during the match
Communication is the backbone of any team sport. Communicating with your team can always plan new strategies or objectives, change the course of action or fall back on plan Bs or Cs. Find out how to join a team.
Some teams carry communication devices like walkie-talkies or use eVoke or similar built-in wireless communication systems in their paintball helmets.
#11 Take cover, fire, and advance on the field in turns
Utilizing hiding places behind trees, rock formations, bunkers, and obstacles decrease your chances of getting hit and eliminated. From these strategic places, you have a better position to start shooting at your opponents.
You and your teammates should also help each other advance on the field by taking turns shooting toward the opposite team, forcing them to hide while one player runs forward to a new position. The player in their newly established position then starts firing to cover the players in the positions further back so they can run and advance on the field.
#12 Spread out in pairs
One of my favorite tactics is to play in pairs on the field. Pairs are powerful because one player can divert the opponents’ attention while the other player advances their position. A beginner’s mistake is to gather the whole team in a single place, which is easy to attack. Disperse across the area according to your strategy and plan. Some players can hide behind trees, while others hide behind obstacles. Please don’t make it evident for the opponent team to know your next move. The element of surprise is powerful.
#13 Keep moving toward the target and objective:
Don’t stay in one spot. Use hiding places temporarily to take cover from enemy fire, support your teammates, and then move towards your target. Changing location often makes it harder for the opposite team to coordinate their attacks. Keep changing zones and get closer until you can eliminate your opponents or achieve the objective that wins the game.
#14 Aim before you shoot
Aimless shooting will waste your paint and make you run out of ammo mid-game.
Aiming before shooting increases your chances of hitting the target and eliminating them from the game. Accuracy is crucial if you have had a stealthy approach and your opponents are unaware of your position. You give away your position every time you shoot, so you may only have one chance to eliminate your target, so aim and shoot accurately. Most beginners focus on firing multiple shots and hoping one of them lands, but that also makes them run out of ammo faster.
#15 Shoot with both hands and both sides:
Shooting with both hands will improve your gun’s stability and precision. When you hold a marker with both hands, your upper body will become narrower, reducing the chances of getting hit.
#16 Stay low
Stay low to avoid being hit. Sometimes you have to crawl or sneak to avoid being seen. If you are stealth approaching your opponents, the objective is not to expose your position. Stay down and wait for the right time to attack.
#17 Be aware of your surroundings
A common beginner mistake is to be so focused on the opponent in front of them that they completely lose focus of their surroundings. Having a laser-like focus on the target is essential, as is awareness of what’s happening around you. If you’re too focused on what is happening in front of you, you may not see the other opponent approaching you from the side or be aware of your teammates’ situation.
#18 Use rapid-fire when needed
The front player should use rapid fire with automatic guns that can shoot many paintballs within seconds to force the opposite team into a defensive position or eliminate them. The front player is also responsible for covering the rest of the team as they advance on the field, and rapid-fire is the best approach.
#19 Don’t pick ammo from the ground
Never pick up paint from the ground, as the paintballs may be dirty or leak and jam your paintball gun. While sitting there with a jammed-up marker, you are useless to your team.
Even if you find perfectly usable paintballs on the ground, you should leave them there. Picking up paint during a game distracts your focus, and your chances of getting eliminated increase. If you are worried about running out of ammo, remember to bring more next time.
#20 Check your air tank
A simple beginner mistake is not to check their HPA or CO2 tank or test their equipment before playing a game. Once the game starts, they notice they don’t have any gas left and are useless. Check your equipment before every match, so you don’t have to worry about these things during the game.
A standard 20 oz tank will allow you to shoot 800-900 paintballs which is enough. An excellent rule of thumb is that if the tank is less than half full, make sure to refill.
#21 Use smoke grenades to escape
If you find yourself in a tricky situation where you are surrounded and taking heavy fire, smoke grenades can be super helpful and help you escape from your dire situation. Timing is everything with smoke grenades, as players can still shoot blindly through the smoke and hit you when you make your run. Sometimes it’s best to wait until the shooting stops, but not so long that the smoke clears and your window of opportunity is gone.
#22 Use paint grenades wisely
There are many grenades in paintball, like paint grenades, thunder flashes, and flashbangs which may divert the opponent’s attention. Here are a few paintball grenade tips:
- Don’t use grenades thoughtlessly, as any explosion will expose your location.
- Keep your grenades away from water and moisture, as it will ruin them.
- Don’t hold grenades for a long time. Throw them immediately because they can explode in your hands or the air, and then they are wasted.
- The intelligent use of paint grenades is when the target hides behind an obstacle or in a bunker. Throwing grenades will force them out of their position, giving you the perfect opportunity to eliminate them.
#23 Carry paintball pods and extra ammo
Keep refilling your hopper with more paintballs when running low and have an opportunity to do it safely. A standard paintball hopper has a capacity of 200 paintballs, and if you need more, you should carry extra paintball pods. Pods are cylinder-shaped containers that can hold 150 extra paintballs in reserve. The cylinder shape makes it quick and easy to load 150 new paintballs into the hopper lid opening without spilling.
If your gun is mag-fed, it may only hold up to 20 to 30 paintballs, and you will have to carry extra magazines and reload very often.
#24 Keep practicing on your own
If you are a beginner, practicing on your own will be the most efficient use of your time. When you practice by yourself, there is no pressure from teammates or opponents, and you can focus on learning how to use the paintball gun and gear until it becomes intuitive. Once aiming, shooting, and moving across the field is like second nature, you can add team play and opponents. If you have a backyard, put a cardboard target in a safe spot and start practicing.
Additional paintball tactics and strategies some players still use
Dead men walking
Dead men walking is a tactic where a teammate steps towards the opposite team with the gun down, pretending they have been eliminated. It is a very old-school and risky tactic and is likely to fail today as most players are familiar with it.
The Squeegee tactic is to act like you are cleaning your marker. I think it is one of the worst tactics since it doesn’t make sense that a player would clean their marker during the match unless they have debris or paint stuck in their barrel or hopper, and I don’t think anyone would fall for it.
Act like your marker is empty
If you have a gravity hopper, you can point it towards the sky, and it will not load new paintballs into the chamber. With no ammo in the firing chamber, it won’t shoot pellets when you fire. You can use this technique to trick the other team that you are out of ammunition and hide behind an obstacle. The opposite team may feel it’s safe to rush closer to your location and seize this opportunity to take you out before you can reload ammo. And when they leave the safety of their position, that’s the perfect opportunity to eliminate them. This tactic may still work today.
Leapfrogging is a technique used by most professional players. One player will cover another player while they get to their new spot, and vice versa. It works great in pairs but requires a lot of trust in your teammates. If anyone messes up, you will quickly be eliminated. Your team can also use it with multiple pairs of players simultaneously, effectively giving more cover and risking more players getting eliminated if it fails.
Flanking is when a small group of a team has a task to divert the attention of the other team, and another group sneaks up and attacks from behind them. Flanking can also help set up a cordinated attack from several fronts.
I hope these strategies can help you become a better player, and perhaps play in a tournament. Did you know that professional players make money from paintball?