Monday, January 25, 2010


You’re probably reading the title and thinking Reiner is going to tell us he’s finally burned out. He’s going to call it quits and leave us alone. Well…no such luck. No, this is about player burnout. But it’s not about your hardcore tourney player spending two or three days a week at the field and unable to sustain the pace, although I’m sure that’s an issue within the tournament player community.

The burnout I’m thinking of is probably totally different than most players or even field owners think about. I see it all the time. I can often forecast it on a player’s second or third paintball outing ever. This burnout has to do with the Newbie that falls in love with the game on his first time at our field. He comes to the counter and tells us how much fun he is having; how he had no idea he was going to like paintball this much; how he’s going to do this regularly from now on.

We then see him the next weekend or maybe a couple of weeks later. Sometimes he’s already bought his own gear by the time he comes for his second ever paintball outing. He keeps coming week after week, hardly missing a weekend. Soon he’s one of the “regulars” because he is always there. The other regulars know him by name. This goes on for a few months and then we start seeing him a little less often. Instead of coming every weekend, it’s once or twice per month. Then we won’t see him at all anymore.

The way I see it, these types of players have “too much of a good thing”. The novelty wears off. As I recognize this trend, I will often warn these players that if they come too often, they’ll probably end up burning out. But they never believe it. They are infatuated with their newfound hobby.

This is why I always have to smile when I read posts from players or field owners (or potential future field owners who are going to run a field the “right” way) about how paintball should be really inexpensive for players so they can afford to do it all the time. I read it and smile because I know that most “regulars” will only be regulars for a relatively short time. Then they will move onto something else that catches their interest. But the field owner has based his business plan on attracting and keeping lots of players, and keeping them coming back regularly because at their field they can afford to play all the time.

As a field owner, I have found out and understand that I have a much healthier business if my customers come regularly, but much less often. It’s best if they pursue other interests outside of paintball, and not get too infatuated with just paintball. I have a feeling that is not the way most field owners feel about their customers. I’m sure most want to hook their new players hard and have them come back as often as possible. Sometimes, even I think I’m a bit of an odd duck, a business owner that doesn’t want his customers coming too often. How odd is that?


  1. Excellent post. Time and time again I have told players I would rather see them four times a year for life rather than 20 Saturdays in a row.

  2. Well, you see to the human and not only the money. I think field- and shop owners have to understand personal advertisment and customer service and healthcare better, instead of looking for short-term profit.

  3. You know, this is another tidbit of information that should be obvious but isn't.

    How many people go to the movie theater every weekend? Or to Great America? Or bowl?

    Paintball is a recreational activity, and recreational activities are, by most people, best enjoyed infrequently in rotation with other recreational activities. Just the way the human brain works.

    Additionally, they are far better enjoyed socially. I used to play volleyball once a week all summer every summer - quit when the friends I played with moved. It wasn't the volleyball that was so important as the time with the friends each week.

  4. Long term thinks vs. short term thinking has been a big problem in the paintball industry for quite a while now.

    One of the problems I think is tat many new field owners start with too little cash right away. They need positive cash flow to survive. Unfortunately, theat leads to short term thinking. Short term cash flow vs. long term prosperity/

  5. It's simply the character of some people... too much money to burn... get hooked on some new hobby for the short term and then move on to some other hobby that interests them or they're better at... or is pushed along by a friend and they lose interest in tandem... how many of us have done this with other sports? I know I did with golf... I don't think a field can keep this type of individual interested for the long term or keep them away to stop them burning themselves out...

  6. Houdini, I agree. There is nothing that can be done about it and it's not paintball specific. It was more just a post about an observation of a specific human charecteristic.

  7. Hi, cool site, good writing ;)

  8. sorry

  9. Juric. Sehr gut. Das Bistro ist ja super.

  10. Just an anon comment. I think its due to the fact that PB has not yet figured out how to make it like golf or tennis. Something that you can easily do once a week that holds your interest for years. In golf, its the progress. You compete against yourself weekly and enjoy the progress as your ranking goes down a bit, you figure out whats wrong in you play and so on.

    In tennis, its the string of success and fails you do in a 1 hour of play. Its exciting. Tons of plays, tons of situations to ponder on and soforth.

    In paintball, its almost impossible to track your progress, hard to figure out where you actually did wrong and what you could have done better, because in the end, paintball is a team sport played with random teams most of the time.

    What the fix is, I have absolutely no clue. Just pointing out I think the reason why paintball infatuates the new keen players quickly is lack of feedback you get from it.

  11. Anon, I see what you are saying but do not completely agree. Yes for recreational paintball it is a team mission you are trying to accomplish and your team may be different every time, although many players often play as units with the same group of friends. But for me, when I play recreationally, at the end of the day I don't really care if I've won or lost more games one way or the other. I do however take pride in my overall accomplishments and my overall play that day. I'm either really happy, satisfied or less satisfied with the way I played. I am constantly thinking about how I will handle a similar situation next time I run into it. I remind myself what I should not have done and how I will try to do it differently, or better next time. If I'm snap shooting and missing, I work on my technique so I miss less often. I guess what I am saying is that I do, just like when I played golf and tennis (and other sports), work on improving my skills and game play. For those that branch off into true competitive play, those thngs are even more important.

  12. I've seen a lot of that on my scenario team. We started out really strong about 6 years ago with about a dozen very active people. We'd get out to play every few weekends. We hit all the scenarios at our local field as well as a couple extras in the region, and for about half of the team one of the bigger national games. Each year since our peak (our 2nd year) we've steadily declined. First people started to miss stuff and only show up half the time. We also had a very active forum and the posts started to drop off. One by one, people just fell off our radar. We are now down to about 6 people, but only 3 are active. The remaining active people want to grow the team to more respectable numbers, but we haven't even had much luck recruiting. People who seem like good prospects will show up to run with us a couple of times, but then we never even see them on the field again.