How to Improve in Any Video Game

A positive mind promotes a positive outcome.

So, you want to get better at video games? I want to share what has helped me improve, which are also many things that pros do on a daily basis. These tips and words of advice are focused on the PvP side of gaming, but much of this article is applicable to PvE gaming as well.

“Hit your shots” is a simple and can be improved by slowing down your shot to develop muscle memory, running hand-eye coordination and mouse/thumbstick accuracy drills, and ensuring you have the right sensitivity for you (Copying pros isn’t always the best option). But, there are many other factors that go into being a pro-level player that many people miss. All the things they’re not doing, what they’re avoiding, what information they’re tracking and making decisions based on, how and why they position the way they do, and more.

Pros are also typically exceptional at managing their mental resolve and focus, which is the core of improving. Mental focus is huge for gamers. The time you spend raging about how the game sucks, how you only lost to cheese, how you should have won, or whatever it may be could be spent realizing that the loss is just a lesson still needed to be learned. I once heard Luckyy (of Luckyy_and_BW) say “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” This stuck with me and is the mantra for improvement. We’ll dive deeper on this with the next few sections.

Don’t waste time focusing on factors out of your control. The random on your team could have hit a single bullet out of the entire 30-round mag to finish the enemy who was one shot, sure. But, that doesn’t help you improve for the next fight that won’t include that blueberry at all. Instead, you could be thinking about how you overextended near the end or could have taken a moment to recover health/shield or reload before engaging that last enemy. While taking that moment, your rando would have done a fine job of distracting that enemy. They wouldn’t need to hit a shot to do that.

A recent example: I was up against Dizzy, XQC, and their third (I honestly don’t remember who it was, but they were a friend of XQC’s I think) in Apex. My team and I downed Dizzy and their third while XQC was weak. One of my friends went down in the process. I was left one shot on a roof and my teammate was around 100 effective hp (EHP). XQC was also around 100 EHP. I was hyped from the first two knocks and was aggressively trying to find the third enemy. XQC finds me first from good awareness and ally callouts. He hits me with the one shot he needed to knock me. My third then challenged him in the open while XQC used a tree for cover. Both players using a Spitfire and same EHP. My third choked shots and was an open target resulting in a loss in the fight.

My third could have positioned wiser and hit better shots, but that’s not going to help me get better to beat that caliber of players the next time I run into them. Instead, I could review what I did wrong resulting in the loss. My bloodlust created tunnel vision and I forgot to check my EHP status while on high ground. I could have maintained a calmer mind and stepped away from the ledge after the second knock to do a quick information check before engaging again.

If I did, I would have then healed up quickly, which would have then allowed me to get free shots on XQC who would have been exposed to me while engaging with my third. This would have guaranteed a victory from the fight as XQC was one shot and exposed at the end of the engagement. So, moving forward I started developing a habit to make a quick check of my EHP if I ever get a moment to breathe in a fight and now rarely make the same mistake again.

I would like to note that focusing on what other people could improve on can be beneficial in a team environment. But, you’re likely not in a professional esports team (that would be the dream though, huh?) and probably play with matchmade players or with a rotating list of teammates based on which friends are online. I would only allow myself to focus on what my teammates could do better if we’re all in a calm, logical mindset and have previously discussed wanting to improve together. Nobody likes to play with that know-it-all who comes across as condescending.

Many times, players will feel like they “should” have won a fight. They feel like they’re better than the other player and only lost because they messed up instead of because of the enemy making a good play. Sometimes this mindset is so strong that people will come out of a lost fight saying things like “you’re not good, kid” or “they only won because I made a mistake,” and well…yeah. You made a mistake which means they were better than you (at least at that moment). Often times, people win not from playing perfectly, but from making fewer mistakes than the opponent (or at least less critical mistakes). You even see this in professional-level play.

The truth is that everyone is equal. Some start with natural advantages including reflex speed, hand-eye coordination, etc. But, you can always adapt and improve to have a good shot at beating any player out there. You just might not be there yet and you’re even further if you still feel entitled. To get out of the entitlement mindset, make a habit of complimenting someone who outplayed you. For example, if they made a good rotation and caught you at an angle you weren’t expecting, vocally say “nice rotation.”

If they’re being toxic about it, then heck’em. They lost their compliment. But if they just get the win on you and move on, then they’re just a gamer out there looking to get good and have fun like you. No reason to create a negative atmosphere. Once you get past entitlement and focus on a positive atmosphere of accepting humanity and taking losses as lessons to learn, then you’ll notice quick improvements and more enjoyable gaming experiences.

Any time you get into a negative mindset, you’ll generally perform worse and lose the ability to improve. Once you’re tilted, you’ll find yourself making more excuses and getting tunnel vision causing you to lose the ability to quickly analyze a situation to adapt effectively. A major aspect of gaming is keeping a positive mind. A positive mentality really does wonders with keeping you eager to learn, willing to push yourself to perform better, and helping those around you experience the same benefits. A negative mind will drag yourself and those around you down.

Everyone has “tells” of getting tilted. Things like pushing too aggressively without the team, snapping responses to questions with progressively harsher tones, etc. Developing self-awareness to recognize when you are performing your “tells” is crucial. Once realized, take a 15- to 30-minute break, grab a snack (those Snickers commercials are pretty truthful about hunger), get hydrated, and do some stretches (we’re sitting down a lot while gaming). Get that mental and physical reset your body and mind deserve. You may have been going a bit too hard and need a breather.

Take that time to also think about why you’re playing the game and what you want out of it. Get your inspiration, passion, and a better perspective back. If you feel re-energized and are back to a positive mindset, then you’ll return to better performance and a mindset for improvement. Even if the rest of the night is a struggle bus, a positive mindset will allow you to still have more fun than if you were a ball of raging stress. Everyone has bad days. If you’re on a losing streak, just take a moment to look at some memes or cute animal videos/pictures, joke with some friends, etc. Get back to gaming after that break to maintain positivity.

After a loss, I find it incredibly helpful to think about what I could have done to win. If I missed a lot of shots, was it because I chose an awkward angle or was too nervous? Did I get caught too far from my team? Did I waste a grenade earlier that I could have used later? These are a few of many questions that could help troubleshoot what could be improved for later.

If you struggle with remembering the fine details of a fight (or just want to make sure you got that facts straight for accurate improvement), then record your gameplay. Use a recording feature on your console or install a program (like OBS) on your PC for review later. If you’re playing with others, just make a mental or physical note to check the footage later for an engagement you couldn’t think of a way out of.

Streamers can just turn their VODs on for the platform they’re using and check their past broadcast footage. I used this to review the perspectives of Dizzy, XQC, and myself for the fight I gave as an example earlier. Watching how other skilled players responded to my actions helped in more ways than just the EHP checking lesson. If you’re playing with a streamer, you can check their footage later as well to see how they handled fights with you to get a better perspective on if you’re too aggressive, not aggressive enough, if your assumptions for your teammate’s decision making was accurate, etc.

Many gamers don’t think about physical health relating to improved gaming performance. I certainly didn’t for many years. Games just require using your hands, eyes, ears, mind, and sometimes voice, right? Those are the primary tools from your body, but everything is pretty linked. Getting proper hydration, nutrients, and sleep will help you focus, analyze, and maintain a positive mindset. Getting quality blood flow is great as well for keeping the brain going at full speed. Regularly stretching your hands, wrists, and arms will help improve your dexterity. Stretching everything (including your legs, neck, and back) will promote blood flow and help avoid long-term injuries that can be caused by excessive amounts of sitting (this still helps you improve because it will allow you to keep gaming long enough for the lessons to really add up later in your life).

Regarding mental health, try to not get into competitive games or difficult activities when you’re already experiencing high stress levels from life events occurring before or during the activities. You’ll likely be quick to anger and frustration. Try to resolve personal problems beforehand. If you can’t, then at least spend some time meditating and getting yourself into a positive mindset before hopping into the game. Having a good, positive mental foundation to start on is essential to performing well and finding ways to improve.

Sometimes you need a second opinion or some extra knowledge to help you break into the next level of skill. Some people have learned lessons you haven’t even thought of yet. Getting involved in discussions with friends and community members who are also eager to improve can be significantly beneficial. Discuss the lessons you’ve learned and hear about the lessons they’ve learned. Discussing how your team could have won a recently lost fight can provide both immediate and long-term benefits (just remember that nobody, including you, is always right).

You can also read/watch content creators looking to help gamers improve (hi, I’m that kind of content creator). A lot of these constructive influencers have dedicated their lives to improving and can share their years of experience and knowledge with you. You can also watch professional players live stream their gameplay. Even if the pros aren’t intentionally looking to teach their viewers how to get better, you can still study their movement patterns, weapon/gear choices, and figure out why they make the decisions they do as well as how they approach certain situations.

Good games have a plethora of unique scenarios that you may need to adapt to on the fly. But, as you continue to improve, you’ll likely start noticing certain patterns that are commonly found. Discovering optimal strategies to employ in those scenarios and training yourself to execute those strategies is key. Keep a calm, positive mind, be ready to learn, and embrace losses as lessons to be learned. Always remember that we’re all human. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has those days. Everybody knows what I’m talkin’ ‘bout. Everybody gets that way. Nobody’s perfect! (Oh god, not the HM flashbacks again…!)

Anyway, what matters is how you handle your mistakes. Don’t make frustrated excuses. Practice acceptance and confidently look to improve. You got this!

Chad has spent his entire life in gaming and has dedicated thousands of hours through the recent years as a streamer looking to help the community.