Can juggling improve your Counter-Strike game?

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You read that headline right. Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Top-tier Counter-Strike is a highly competitive space where every player is looking for the one thing that could give them an edge in the server. 

So could that thing be juggling?

First CS2 Major Winners
Photo courtesy of PGL/Stephanie Lindgren

F1 drivers are often spotted juggling before races and they’re not the only ones. Juggling, the activity of continuously tossing a number of objects into the air and catching them, keeping at least one in the air while handling the others, is actually an extremely useful activity for athletes in a number of sports. There are a few reasons for this. 

Ambidexterity, hand-eye coordination, and balance are the physical benefits linked to the activity but other benefits include spatial awareness, focus, and concentration. Brain cognition also benefits because juggling is a great Cross Crawl exercise. Cross Crawl exercises are utilized to activate both sides of the brain. They focus on specific cross-lateral movements (so the simple version is you’re crossing over from one side of your body to another) while using a set number of repetitions. Cross Crawl Exercises are meant to improve motor skills, focus, and coordination…. making them an ideal addition to a warm-up before a competitive Counter-Strike game.

I can hear your eye roll muscles working overtime again. But you’d be surprised how useful exercises like this are to warm up your muscles and your brain. PGL Copenhagen Major Winners, NAVI, have incorporated juggling into their preparations. Their performance coach, Urszula “Xirreth” Klimczak, says she introduces Cross Crawl exercises into the warm-up routines of many of the esports athletes she works with to “wake-up” the brain before long periods of concentration are needed:

“Cross Crawl exercises engage both hemispheres. One hemisphere is more analytical or more sharp, if you like, when it comes to decision making, whereas the other hemisphere is more about emotions and instinct. So at some point, when you do activities which engage the left and ride side of the body, they cross. Thus the name. You need to wake up both hemispheres with a natural language to make them work a little bit better. Juggling sharpens your senses and ensures both hemispheres are equally engaged, especially before performance when you need a player to be productive and sharp.”

According to Xirreth the entire team has given juggling a go with some players also choosing to utilize a football for cross crawl exercise. Yup, just kicking a ball from left to right offers a similar “wake up” for the brain. If you’ve watched much behind-the-scenes content from Counter-Strike events you’ll know a few teams choose to play football as a means to warm up or wind down after big games. Whether they knew it or not, that exercise was assisting them in and out of the server.

Xirreth says juggling can also be a great way to find focus and settle nerves:

“If you juggle a little bit before you go on stage, it also gives you a sense of relaxation and allows you to focus and calm the mind. It can be used not only as a warm up but also as a means to get you in the zone. I’m really happy the players reacted well to the idea. I’ve mentioned it to many players in the past, with a few believing it is stupid. Not everyone wants to do it. But once a player understands the idea behind it and you see the difference when you play, you want to do it more. Formula One drivers do it, Iga Świątek (Women’s World Number 1 in Tennis), uses juggling in her warm ups and it could very well become a popular warm up technique in esports moving forward.”

Pro League Complexity victory

Unfortunately, all that juggling didn’t help NAVI against Complexity recently during ESL Pro League Season 19. The Major winners were eliminated by the Americans (who are led and coached by South Africans… this isn’t documented nearly enough). If NA fans online are to be believed, Complexity are basically major winners now… of course, it would be imperative to find out if part of their preparations before this match up included learning to juggle? 

 

 

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