PokéPrep #11 The “Pokédoro” Training Technique

Hello Reddit, I’m Primitive and today I am here to present you with the next article of the PokéPrep series! This will (hopefully) be a weekly series of articles focused on providing simple, actionable tips that can be applied to improve your VGC gameplay but don’t involve actual in-game tips! Today we will be talking about implementing the Pomodoro Pokédoro training technique!

Do you ever find yourself starting off really hot during a testing session, winning most of your games, building confidence about your team/play and then slowly losing more games, questioning your plays, or constantly changing things around on your teams?

Well according to Francesco Cirillo you are only able to maintain ~100% focus on a task for 25-40 minutes until you start to see diminishing returns on your work. When he was a university student back in the 1980’s he would set himself a 25 timer on a kitchen timer that looked like a Pomodoro (the Italian word for tomato) and would study fully focused for that time and after the timer dinged he would take a 5 minute break to refresh himself and then start again for another 25 minute cycle. Thus was born the Pomodoro training technique. 

I myself have used the Pomodoro technique for many things in the past years such as studying, reading, writing articles, and as you could probably guess, playing Pokémon. 

Today I want to share a variant of the Pomodoro technique that I used to originally get me a sponsor for playing Hearthstone and then transferred over to VGC where I aptly named it the “Pokédoro.”

The Difference Between Pomodoro and Pokédoro

So what is the difference between the Pomodoro and Pokédoro? Well during the Pomodoro you study in 25 minute cycles with 5 minute breaks, which has been proven to help improve many areas of life. However, 5 minutes is not a long break, and if you’re anything like me then the 5 minute break doesn’t provide enough time to regain my mental fortitude to continue giving my full focus when training for a competition. I found the higher stress situation of preparing for upcoming tournaments caused the time for me to regain full focus to increase and had to adjust accordingly.

Despite me finding success with the 25-5 cycle in my studies and work, when it came to practice I just never saw the benefit of a 5 minute break. And for a long time I would forego these breaks and just play 3-4 hours straight and to no surprise the last 2 hours were way worse and less productive than the first 1-2. 

After self analyzing and realizing that I was sabotaging myself by playing for long sessions with no breaks I decided to try a different cycle of training.

The 45-15 Cycle

I got to work to find how long of a break I needed to effectively implement the Pomodoro into my training for tournaments. I started with 10 minutes and went up by 5 up until I was taking 30 minute breaks. However I could tell that 30 minutes were too long as by that point I would tend to get distracted with other things, or the thoughts of how to improve filled my head and I was eager to get back into training. So with more testing and experimenting I started going back down by 5 minutes until I found a sweet spot, which was 15 minutes per break.

Now I just needed to learn how long of a training session I could handle before I would see diminishing returns on my practice. I decided the best way to track this was time each play session until I began to feel my concentration fade away and I would begin to start checking my phone or start looking at other distractions. 

I noticed that I was able to handle around 40-50 minutes of practice until I began to feel my concentration fade. 

With the 15 minute break already set I decided on going in the middle there at 45 minute play sessions so that a full cycle would equal out into an even hour.

With 45 minutes playing and 15 minutes away this is perfect for making multi hours sessions nice and clean and the break supplies me with a good amount of time to refresh and clear my mind opposed to the 5 minute break of the previous cycle.

What (Not) To Do During The 15 Minute Breaks

Since everyone’s hobbies and interests are different I’m not going to be listing tasks that you should be doing like I did for my “How To Spend Time In-between Round of Online Tournaments” article, which I recommend reading if you need ideas on productive activities to do during your breaks. However that is just a small list and I recommend you test different tasks to see what is helpful for you to clear your mind. 

Instead it will be better for me to talk about what you should NOT be doing during your training breaks. 

Luckily there is only one thing you should not be doing, unlucky it most likely is the task you planned on doing during this break.

The one thing you should not be doing during this break is another task that can take your focus away from your training when you return. What I mean when I say this are activities such as other video games, online videos, TV, social media or entertainment apps such as TikTok.

The main reason you want to avoid activities such as the ones previously listed is because it can and most likely will take away from your ability to get 100% focused again on training. 

If you play another video game such as Minecraft then once you get back into playing VGC you may begin to think about the game and have thoughts such as the next building you are going to make, or how your friends are gaining resources without you. These thoughts have nothing to do with VGC and if they are filling your brain then you are drastically reducing the effects you can gain from Pokédoro.

If you check social media you may see something that frustrates you or something you disagree with and that can stick with you for an extended period of time and take away focus. 

Watching videos not related to VGC such as stuff on YouTube or TikTok can also make it hard for you to get away from that content and back into training making staying fully focused a much harder task.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t do these things at other times, but if you are planning to implement this strategy into your training program then I assume you are serious about improving. And if you are truly serious then you should be making the effort to give yourself the best chances to make the most out of each training session. Leisure tasks such as the ones i listed are great for relaxing and unwinding, but there is a time and place for those tasks and while you’re working to improve is not the proper time to partake in those tasks, and they should be saved until after you have finished your practice session.

The Pokédoro technique may seem simple, and maybe ridiculous but there are many studies that show its effectiveness in other fields of practice and VGC is no different. I know we all want to perform our best and the Pokédoro provides an easy to apply strategy that not only improves your quality of practice but also allows you breaks which may help with other areas such as tilt. I really hope you give this a try so you can begin to reap the benefits I have felt from it for yourself.

Thank you for reading today’s article! If you enjoyed please give this post a share, or consider checking out my social media for more VGC improvement content. You can find my Twitter here, YouTube here and my Twitch channel here. If you have any topic suggestions for future PokéPrep articles please feel free to DM on twitter!  I hope you enjoyed and I wish you a fantastic day!

Published by Primitive

My name is Michael, but if you know my from competitive gaming you probably know me as Primitive. I'm a life long competitor in various card games, and turn based games who still has the burn to compete and work to be my best. I have been on a health and fitness journey since February 2018 and it is now one of my burning passions, making one of my new major goals to become a personal trainer to help others see the benefits exercise and nutrition can bring!

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