Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Overcoming Ladder Anxiety

I used to suffer hugely from ladder anxiety before I started this blog and was in a position where I had to play games. I would use any excuse to justify to myself why I should stop playing; winning the first game meant that things could only get worse so I should stop whilst I was ahead, and losing the first game meant that things would never get better. It took a long time for me to get over the fear of that little button but I'm glad I did. I've been meaning to write this piece, on overcoming ladder anxiety, for a while; so here we go.
You have to accept that losing is a part of succeeding and that everyone loses a lot; even the best players in the world. In the long run learning from losing is more useful than ignoring your problems and hitting a brick wall that you can't overcome. I often hear people saying that they have gotten into x league so now they wont play any more, so that they will stay where they are, but it doesn't work like that. If you don't play you consign yourself to at best stay where you are, but more likely, to be moved down.
Set yourself weekly targets and do your best to keep them, but accept that this isn't always possible. Even if your target is wildly optimistic it should focus your practice and encourage you to play more. You need to have a plan for what to do on a winning or losing streak. For example, if you win three games in a row say that you will keep going until you lose. If you have lost three games in a row quit and try again the next day. Taking away these decisions will help you feel like less of a quitter if you do have to stop playing and takes away the stress.
Don't be disheartened by how many leagues there are and how far from the top leagues you can seem. Just focus on climbing up one step at a time. From Bronze to Grandmasters there are six steps, and it takes time to traverse them, so any gain is a great achievement and don't be put off by how far off the top can seem. Practice and experience are the biggest helps in dealing with a strange strategies. Playing a lot of games won't set you up for every eventuality, not even close, but it will help you deal with previously unseen strategies, as you are more likely to have faced something similar in the past.
So, the next time you are faced with that button, remember that you will at least get experience out of playing and probably a lot more. Thank you for reading and I wish you every success on the ladder in the future. If you enjoyed this article then you can find me on twitter at @RobinTerran or follow the blog from the pane to the right.

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