“Tilt originated as a poker term for a state of mental or emotional confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in the player becoming over-aggressive.”
Tilt can ruin great tournament runs, destroys confidence (and sometimes desks), cause rash decisions, cause burnout and many other terrible things.
Gaining control over your emotions and most namely tilt is a key skill that is necessary to being able to perform at the highest level in VGC or any competitive outlet.
Although this isn’t an easy task, nor is it something that can happen overnight, gaining control of tilt is something I highly encourage everyone reading this to put on the top of their priority list.
I’m not perfect and I won’t claim to be but I have done a lot of work on my mindset which has caused me to go from a raging tilt machine into someone who very rarely tilts and when I do tilt it’s usually caused by pent up emotions from outside the game.
Today I want to share some tips I have used to tackle my tilt problem and minimize its effect on my life.
Clear Up Outside Noise
Like I just mentioned, whenever I tilt it’s usually caused by some outside source. The way for me to deal with this is not to ignore whatever is happening in my life, it’s to deal with it and then move on with a clear mind.
If you have things on your mind that are going to cause you to easily tilt then you should be focusing on taking care of it before you come to practice. Playing tilted will never be a good thing for you and can be actively detrimental to your gameplay and mental.
And if you don’t know what’s causing it I suggest you take time to get away from distractions and begin to write down in a journal what’s on your mind. You may find that the underlying cause will show its ugly head which is the first step into correcting the issue.
Regardless of what tips you take away from today’s article and try implementing into your life, if you don’t take care of the things in your life outside of the game that cause you stress or anxiety then you will be taking the long and hard road to improvement.
Read The Mental Game Of Poker Vol.1
This is an incredible book written by Jared Tendler who is a coach to golfers and some of the top poker players. There are 2 volumes to this series and I recommend you read both however for tilt purposes you will want to read the first volume.
In this book Jared talks about the tilt profile and the 7 different types of tilt. Identifying what type of tilt I suffer from and implementing the strategies provided in the book to overcome them is one of the key turning points in my life to overcoming my tilt problem.
Some people may suffer from 1 type of tilt, some all 7, for me I suffered from 2 different types of tilt which were “hate losing tilt” and “entitlement tilt.”
This book also offers a lot of great advice on improving in the mental game outside of just tilt and I highly recommend it to everyone reading this article.
Create Tilt Triggers/Rules
In order to really start gaining control over tilt you need to be able to identify when you’re tilting or beginning to tilt and implement rules in your life that are lines that you do not cross in an effort to counteract the tilt.
To give an example of my rules I have set for myself:
To Prevent Tilt
- I always take a break after 3 losses in a row to prevent falling into desperation tilt
- I never play for more than 50 minutes at a time without taking a break to avoid tilting from fatigue/lack of concentration
- I use the session sheet to stay focused on a goal so that I can have a clear goal that I’m working to improve on.
When I do Tilt
- Write down my feelings. I know I only tilt with outside causes so I work to identify what is causing me to feel this way
- After doing the previous step I go into a 30-60 minute session of doing something I really enjoy that is effective at clearing my mind. I have a list of things that I have found work best for me but what I usually do is go to the gym or get outside and go for a run/take my dogs on a walk. For me when I tilt the worst thing I can do is stay looking at a screen so I usually avoid playing another video game or watching YouTube, but that is just what I have learned has worked best for me.
Keep Track Of Your Progress
Keeping track of new habits or removing old habits is extremely powerful. You can keep track of this on a calendar, an app on your phone, a notebook, or whatever works best for you.
The reason you want to keep track of the days that you successfully follow your rules to prevent tilt is that the more days you do it in a row you begin to make a chain of daily wins, and when you have a chain of daily wins you will be a lot less likely to break that chain as it can provide a sense of confidence and pride. It’s as easy as making a mark on your calendar, or adding a sticker/emoji to a tracker on your phone.
You won’t start and stick with it as habits such as tilting are very hard to overcome when you do them for so long so if you get 1-2 days in and break the chain don’t get down on yourself and continue tilting without thought. You want to start over and pride yourself in the days that you successfully fight off tilt and overtime those 1-2 day periods will turn into 1-2 week periods and you will have tangible evidence of your growth in this area.
This one may seem a bit hocus pocus if this isn’t something you already have going in your life but the thing is, meditation works. It’s not easy to start, and takes a while to get used to but meditation has had incredible benefits for me and is proven to have benefits for millions of other people.
Through meditation you can learn how to reset your mind and emotions which is not only extremely crucial in competition but in life in general. Being able to reset your emotions through breathwork is super easy, super quick and very effective.
I have been on and off meditation for a couple years now, I would read a book or blog that promotes the benefits of meditation, and stick to it for a week or two and then drop it due to me “failing” at it. But now I meditate daily 2-3 times a day whenever I need it and I can say it has provided me noticeable results in being able to reset myself to my emotional baseline when tensions get high, as well as help me better focus on the task I am working on during each part of my day.
Like I mentioned I “failed” at meditation but no one is going to get it right on the first try and to use my favorite quote “the work comes before the belief” meaning you’re going to have to work on meditation everyday for awhile until you start believing in its benefits. Just like you can’t workout once or twice and see results or eat one healthy meal and drop 10 pounds, meditation takes time to build that mental muscle but once you get that first small result it will begin to compound into greater results and greatly accelerate the benefits you get from this practice. I recommend giving it at least a month of daily practice until you decide to if it’s for you or not.
Many of the world’s greats in competition and business use meditation and many swear by how great of a practice it is. If it’s good enough for them to spend time each day on it, why don’t you give it a shot as well?
Fix Diet and Exercise
This one is extremely vital for mental clarity. Your body is made up of the nutrients you eat and if you’re filling yourself with suboptimal food then it’s going to be a lot harder for you to think optimally.
I spent a large portion of my life overweight and being told that fixing my diet and starting to exercise would help my mental health but I always blew them off and never made the changes. Once I started making the changes back in 2018 I began to notice how true that statement really is and it’s been so impactful on my life I even began my personal trainer and nutritionist certification classes because I wanted to help others feel the absolutely incredible mental benefits that exercise and proper nutrition brings.
Here is a link to an article I wrote talking about how I started exercising and dieting slowly and it became a lot easier to stick.
If you have any medical issues I would consult a doctor before making any drastic changes in your exercise routine.
But I must put emphasis on the fact that this works and it works well, it can and will likely change your entire life physically and mentally for the better if you stick to it.
Write Down Your Goals
Keeping track of the goals you want to achieve in your life is a great way to stay motivated. Having them written down somewhere easily accessible so you can quickly come back to them in times of tilt can give you some clarity on why you’re doing what you’re doing, why it’s worth working through the tough times, and give you a little kick in the butt to help you reset your mental state.
Grant Cardone, the author of the 10X Rule (one of my favorite books) states that you should write your goals down each morning when you wake up. I do this in my daily journal but it’s a fantastic habit that will make sure you are drilling into your head what you really want in life first thing in the morning. If you don’t keep a journal then you should look into the session sheet and implement it into your training.
Read Up On Those Who Inspire You
I spend a lot of time reading, and listening to podcasts. This probably isn’t a common habit in the VGC community but I’m just not a big fan of TV or movies and only play video games I really enjoy so reading and podcasts take place of those activities for me as a form of entertainment.
What I have learned from this however is that learning about people who have accomplished goals that you want to accomplish is incredibly motivating and a powerful way to get you out of the tilt mindset, into the growth mindset.
I can’t tell you how many times I have watched each finals set during the world championships, DOTA’s true sight, interviews with great esports players, chess players, or athletes, the people who are the best of the best at what they do. I’m very competitive and have competition in my blood so anytime I am down about some bad beats I took, or some bad plays I made to lose important sets I always go back to these pieces of content and remind myself what I’m training for and what it would be like to be in those grand final seats.
Motivation is a fleeting emotion which is why I normally advise people to look more for a burning drive to achieve goals instead of motivation. But the fact is that motivation is very powerful in the moment and sometimes all you need is a boost of motivation at a low point to get you through it and back into a winning mindset.
I encourage you to spend time researching some of the people who have done what you wish to do and use their story and success as motivation to show you what’s really possible if you put your all into a goal.
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!