The Mental Side of PvP

The mental aspect of any sport or activity is a crucial factor that plays into account when it comes to being successful. Having the right mindset and staying cool when things get tough is all part of the mental journey people will face when participating in any competitive activity.

Pokémon GO PvP is no exception and in fact, mindset plays a bigger role than what you may think.

How is it that highly skilled players seem to always stay on top? let’s just say it’s not always about their skill level. Arguably one of the biggest factors in PvP is decision making, and when you’re in a bad mood or playing while ’tilted’, it can alter your gameplay and ultimately make you play a whole lot worse.

Finding Your Zen

High-level players understand the importance of the mental aspect that Pokémon GO PvP is all about. Today I’ll be going through some of my own tips which have helped me and still to this day keep me sane on a big losing streak. I will also be featuring community advice that players have given to me that has helped them to achieve their goals.

The number one biggest tip that I have used throughout the years in any competitive activity is to “play to improve, not to win“. Now, what does this mean exactly? It’s the mentality of going into each and every game with the mindset to want to improve your own gameplay rather than focusing on the things you cannot control.

Stopping to take a second and reflecting on a loss can and will improve your overall gameplay quality for future games. Thinking back on mistakes, whether they be minor or major is an excellent way to avoid it happening again in future games.

Could you have survived that move without shielding? Should you have gone for a bait? Was that swap necessary? ask yourself questions about why you lost instead of just getting upset over a loss is the correct mindset to want to improve and ultimately climb the ranks.

A big part of tilting involves lingering thoughts of failure and knowing the consequences of losing ELO points. Everyone gets annoyed once in a while by things they can’t control, in this case, lag, being hard countered, enemy living on 1hp are all things out of ones grasp. As unfortunate as they may be, always remember that accepting failure is a part of improving.

This mentality unfortunately does not come naturally to most people as it is a basic human instant to want to succeed. Any sort of failure or setback involved in an activity can have a negative impact on your mental health. Taking a step back to remember that there will always be bad days, and that is it just a game at the end of the day are things to remember for when you just want to throw your phone at a wall.

Tips From the Community

I reached out to the PvP community to find out how other trainers deal with tilt in their own way and what keeps them going for when things get tough mentally.

OGMasterWade, AKA @tEhEtUmmYtUms11 on Twitter wrote:

“Sometimes it’s best to just set the phone down for a couple of minutes. Remind myself this is a game. I play this to have fun, not torment myself. Not having fun? Might be time to change the team or take a longer break.”

OGMasterWade discusses the idea of simply setting your phone down after things get tough. This is something that, believe it or not, takes more mental strength than one would think. When a player is tilted, often they will want to get straight back into a game to try and salvage their lost points. This is one of the worst things you can do, as you are purely playing to win which will alter your decision making and will just make the situation much worse.

Areeb, AKA @Biggchilll on Twitter wrote:

Bad plays and mistakes happen by everyone, but that’s how we learn and get better. I get anxious when I am close to legend, bad plays do tilt me, but just try to do your best. If 2-3 bad sets, take a break for the day.

Areeb reassures us that mistakes happen. Even the pros are not perfect. High-level gameplay can often come down to understanding your opponent’s strengths and weakness to take advantage of a certain aspect in their gameplay to triumph over them. It can be tiny mistakes that can cost a whole game and this is a natural occurrence with any video game or activity that just takes time and the right mindset to overcome.

JordiePop83, AKA @PopJordie on Twitter wrote:

My biggest tip would be to not compare yourself to others. Constantly comparing your performance against others isn’t healthy, especially after a rough set. You don’t have to play all your sets in a day. It’s okay to take a break. Try to care less and ultimately have more fun. Addiction is a powerful amplifier of emotions.”

JordiePop83 talks about the self-deprecating trait of comparing yourself to others. Remembering that everyone progresses at a different rate and that there is always time to improve is crucial for staying positive. At the end of the day, it’s not a race, as long as you’re making a conscious effort to want to improve and not get angry over losing, then that is a positive day.

Walshman30, AKA @MitchellWalsh97 on Twitter wrote:

“Keep using the same team. You will know how to be better with that team in future matches. Also, I pat my dog between sets.”

Walshman30 brings up the important factor of repetition. Knowing a team compositions strengths and weakness’ will be one of the best ways to climb the leaderboard. Another great point to note is the idea of taking something you love, such as a pet and distracting yourself. Not only does this help to improve your mood, your doggo will love the random pats!

Finally, triptando on Discord wrote:

“Last season I was trying too hard maybe, and when I had more Losses than Wins on a day, I would not be happy. For this season I’m taking it more slowly. Take breaks when I feel the need. Maybe not do 25 battles every day. Accept the fact every climb is a bumpy road with ups and downs. Can’t go positive every single day and I’m not staring blindly on the ranks this time.

I’m way more focused on improving my skills as a battler. I think if I improve myself, the ratings and thus the ranks will follow soon after. There’s a lot of aspects I know a lot of (typings, movesets, etc.), but I also know on which parts I can improve a lot (move counting, timing swaps, remembering residual energy etc).

Since we are in GBL’s seventh season, there’s a lot of experienced battlers, especially in the higher ranks. I know I should improve those aforementioned skills to be able to match them there and I know I’m not the best battler out there, but I do know I love the GBL battling, especially when I play with some of my favourite Pokémon.

By the way, this is coming from someone who only hit Veteran (2500 rating) for the first time last season, and peaked at ~2660. So I’m not a Legend (far from it even), not a leaderboard player, but just someone who enjoys battling and I think you should try to evaluate every game.

From a loss, you can learn more than from a win. Asking yourself where things went wrong and answering all of these questions yourself will account for the next time you battle, that’s an improvement. That should be the focus.

TL;DR: Don’t focus on your rating numbers. Focus on improving your own battle skills. Always keep a fresh and positive mindset. Accept that you can’t climb every day. The season is long enough for you to hit your goals.”

triptando brings up a lot of different aspects that can easily add up while competing in PvP and has the right fundamentals in order to counteract negative thoughts. In their first sentence, they bring up the vital part of taking breaks and how important it is to accept that not every day will be positive, which is completely normal.

Another great statement triptando brings up is that we are up to season 7 in GBL. The amount of talent and quality in each battle has increased ten folds since its initial release at the start of 2020. As the trainers get better, the more intense the gameplay will be. If you can, try not to let anxiety stand in your way of being successful.

Parting Words

If there’s one thing you take from this article, it’s to remember to always prioritise yourself and your mental health over anything. Have you ever noticed that you play better when you’re in a good mood?

Don’t let the losses control you. If things aren’t working out, change your strategy, change your mindset. The strength of your mind determines the quality of your life.

Best of luck, Trainers!

Adam ‘Avrip’

Author & tags

Writer/Editor for the Pokémon GO Hub. PvP enthusiast. 2023 Perth Regional Champion. 9th at Yokohama World Championship. Collector and enthusiast of rare Pokémon retro memorabilia. GBL Legend Multiple Seasons. Sold my soul to Niantic on 07/07/2016.

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