“We don’t want to tell them to stop playing games”: Professor Ingo Froböse on training in eSports

Joining the Red Bull Gaming Ground on Monday and Tuesday, Professor Froböse and his staff will help the teams taking part in the pro gamer bootcamp get in the best possible shape for the gamescom week ahead. We sat down with him to talk about his views on eSports as well as how best to train to become a pro.

ESL: Thank you for your time, Professor Froböse. Can you tell us some of the things you’ve prepared for the teams at the Red Bull Gaming Ground to get in shape before gamescom kicks off?
Professor Froböse: We’ve organized two different workshops, one for the pro gamers and one for the upcoming players. We don’t want to tell them to stop playing games on the computer. Instead, we communicate the advantages of sports and movement in increasing physical and mental performance.

ESL: Is this the first time that you’ve worked together with eSports teams and players?
Professor Froböse: We started testing eSports players last year during the ESL Pro Series Finals to get an overview of the target group. In this context, we have conducted several interviews with the players. In addition to this, stress tests were carried out at regular intervals. We have seen that this target group can be compared to professional athletes in some areas. However, eSports players in Germany don’t have professional structures like the ‘real’ athletes in regards to training methods and principles.  

ESL: The training is said to focus on mental, dietary and physiological aspects. Does one work without the other or are these all heavily linked in order to train effectively?
Professor Froböse: In our daily work, we pursue a comprehensive and holistic approach. That means that we focus on nutrition as well as on mental and physical aspects. Performance is a complex structure built on many different pillars. For that reason, training only one of these aspects equals building just one pillar – it may work, but it will never be an excellent result. As such, our challenge and task is to integrate these pillars into our daily life with the aim of achieving sustainable impact.

ESL: What do you see as the biggest similarities and differences between an eSports event and a classical sports event?
Professor Froböse: From my point of view, eSports events are professionally organized and very similar to classical sport events. There are moderators, commentators and of course lots of fans and supporters. There are not only viewers from the internet – some eSports tournaments are visited by over 25,000 people. The big difference is the reporting about the events in traditional media and the social recognition and appreciation of their performance. However, eSports have gained more and more attention over recent years.

ESL: What do you expect from these training sessions for both you and the teams?
Professor Froböse: We will communicate the latest scientific findings on issues such as duration and intensity of coordination, endurance and strength training. We hope that the teams will be open for new ideas from the field of sports science and see the benefit of a holistic approach. On our side, we hope to get a closer look at the teams’ training methods and their physical and mental strain during gaming sessions.

ESL: Many would argue that playing video games is mostly a mental activity. What sort of benefits have you noticed in physical training that affect things like competing in a video game or even studying for a test?
Professor Froböse: You’re right – playing video games demands a high level of mental activity, including high concentration and perception skills. But there is evidence that physical activity can improve these skills. For this purpose, we are interested in developing individual training schedules for this specific target group. These training schedules contain on the one hand a combination of coordination, endurance and strength training and on the other hand different relaxation techniques.

ESL: Are there four things to do before or after a competitive match that you would recommend to help them increase their performance? What do you tell the teams to do before or after their matches?
Professor Froböse: Before and during a match, drinking sufficient amounts of water is very important to maintain a high level of concentration. After a match, it is essential for an optimal recovery. To sum up, one could say that good hydration keeps your body running.

In addition to this, it is important to provide good nutrition. As seen in traditional sports, a few hours before a competition players should eat meals rich in carbohydrates and low in fat to stock up and sustain their energy reserves throughout the match.

Another tip is taking regularly active breaks like doing some sports or even going for a 5 minute walk. In this way, mental stress can be reduced, the stressed muscles can relax and concentration can be restored. Studies show that people’s concentration capacity is much higher after a moderate or intensive physical activity session than when they have been inactive.
To avoid muscular stiffness, strengthening of the upper part of the body, especially the shoulder area, is very useful.

Finally, the implementation of relaxation techniques may help to calm down and refocus before a match as well as recover and relax following a match.

ESL: Is there any piece of life advice that you would like to pass on to all the players looking to start an eSports career?
Professor Froböse: My advice for all the rookies out there would be that gaming is more than just playing video games. It is a complex interaction of many different, mostly cognitive, skills. To improve these skills and guarantee sustainable results, a holistic approach is needed.

ESL: Thank you for talking to us, Professor Froböse!

What do you think? If you want to see if the teams make proper use of what they’ve learned, make sure you have your ticket for the Red Bull Gaming Ground booked so you can watch them in action live in Cologne next Monday and Tuesday!

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