Analysis carried out by CSGO gambling site CSGOLuck has revealed a series of tips that esports gamers should follow to improve their in-game performance.
Drawing on research from the International Journal of Esports, National Institute of Health, and several other sources, experts have outlined some health and lifestyle tips which could bring significant improvements in three main components of gaming performance, which budding gamers can use to optimise their gaming potential.
The average gamer has a reaction time of 300-500ms, while most professional gamers react faster than 200ms. These three surprising methods have all been proven to help reduce reaction times, which can maximise gaming performance.
MRI studies show that when we simulate ourselves performing specific tasks, the parts of the brain responsible for those activities behave as though we really are performing them. According to Eathletelabs, research on visualisation shows that after just two weeks of practicing for 15 minutes a day, athletes showed improvements in reaction time more than seven times that of those who did not.
A number of benefits have been claimed by those who practice meditation, but that of improved gaming performance is, not shockingly, an under-recognised one. A study from BioMed Central and the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Functions assessed the reaction time of participants pre and post 40-minute periods of meditation. In this study, 100% of participants’ reaction times were reduced immediately after this meditation period, showing that meditation could just be the perfect pre-game ritual for gaming enthusiasts and esports athletes.
Reading is an established way of improving the speed of cognitive processes undertaken in the brain. Rarely considered, however, is its effect on reaction time. Research from the University of Toronto established a significant relationship between reading ability and reaction time, with a direct correlation showing that within their 81 participants, those who read more and thus had a higher reading ability were able to detect visual stimuli faster than those with lower reading engagement and ability. Then, a few pages per day, could convert into a few ms, and maybe the difference in a gaming scenario.
Energy and Focus
Participants of one International Journal of Esports (IJES) study almost all agreed that having enough energy and optimal focus is essential for gaming and esports performance.
In this study, participants identified almost by consensus that particularly unhealthy fast foods and snacks high in sugar rich-carbohydrates were a detractor from their performance, making them tired and lacking in focus.
- Meal Routine
The IJES identified that large meals containing unhealthy food items could negatively affect blood glucose regulation. A solution can be to increase the meal frequency, e.g., eat every three to four hours. Since a well-regulated blood sugar level is essential for optimal cognitive performance, this is vital for individuals competing in cognitive sports, such as esports. Skipping meals is also shunned, with several esports athletes recognising the negative impact of omitting breakfast. Studies suggest that not consuming breakfast can negatively affect certain cognitive abilities.
Several participants mentioned caffeine, and with energy drinks proving popular among gamers, their effect on in-game performance must be recognised. While it was accepted that caffeine could improve energy and focus, the overwhelming majority reported experiencing that, overall, caffeine was harmful to their performance. This may be related to high levels of simple sugars frequently found in the drinks. Sucrose, glucose, or high fructose corn syrup, which are commonly found in such beverages, can profoundly impact blood sugar levels which, as NASA identifies, can negatively affect cognitive performance.
Reactions, decision making, accuracy, and tactical thinking are aspects that rely in part on the cognitive performance of the gamer, making looking after the brain a fundamental part of high-performance gaming.
- Taking Breaks
Many esports athletes mentioned the importance of their general well-being as a factor influencing their performance. Taking breaks was cited as essential to help with mental clarity and allow for reflection, which improved participants’ learning and progression, and, ultimately, in-game performance.
- Sleep and Relaxation
The link between sleep and cognition has been well established in studies, with the consensus that 7- 8 hours per night is optimal for cognitive performance. The Sleep Research Society states that when sleep is shortened or disrupted, cognitive performance on memory, attention, and processing speed all suffer; all skills relied upon in-game for esports athletes.
The IJES identified that sleep problems are attributed to being aroused or extending bedtime. Elevated heart rate and arousal typically follow participating in esports, so it’s beneficial to stop playing unnecessary games before bedtime and instead engage in relaxation techniques to minimise the physiological effects of gaming.
Most participants of the IJES study acknowledged that it was not so much the physiological impacts of exercise that were a component of their in-game success but rather the mental health benefits. It is recommended to reach the weekly recommended goal of 150 minutes of exercise per week, with this feeding into the many elements of well-being that are proven to help improve gaming performance.
These lifestyle factors play a significant role in the health and performance of esports athletes. Although there is a consensus on how vital these components of health are to improving esports performance, many subjects of the IJES study, in particular, still reported habitual intake of energy drinks, sub-optimal sleeping patterns, and poor diets. While this is the case, those esports athletes who look to implement strategies to improve these areas of lifestyle will surely reap the rewards in-game.
A spokesperson from CSGOLuck commented on the findings: “Athletes in any field are required to take care of their physical and mental well-being. With the increasing professionalism, popularity, and profitability of esports, the best gamers are under increasing demand to take good care of themselves, in the same way a soccer player, a basketball player, or any professional sports person would.”
CSGOLuck is a gambling focussed site on the popular esport game, Counter Strike: Global Offensive.