Paintball continues to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and it’s certainly a great way to keep fit, take out some pent-up aggression, and channel your inner Rambo.

But it can be a little daunting, and rookies might be a bit apprehensive before stepping out onto the field of battle for the first time.

With that in mind, we’ve put together this brief but informative guide on the best paintball tips for beginners, so all you greenhorns might just stand a chance of surviving.

And even if you’re an old pro, you might still learn something, so listen up.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on RiflePal. For more information, read full disclosure here.

Paintball Tactics for Noobs – Too Long, Didn’t Read

In this fast-paced world of life and combat sports, on the odd occasion, we just don’t have the time to rattle through an entire article.

Either that, or you’re bored already.

So, let’s add in a nice set of bite-sized bullet points, which looks attractive, is easy-to-read, and will give you the main gist of the article if you’re in a rush.

Top paintballing tips and factors to consider before your first game:

  • Equipment.
  • Understanding the rules.
  • Adapt to the game and terrain.
  • Take your time, breathe, and stay calm.
  • Keep a low profile and your head down.
  • Find the best cover.
  • Conserve ammo.
  • Accuracy and shooting tips.
  • Surveillance – find them before they find you.
  • Teamwork and communication – you won’t win without them.
  • Hone a well-balanced attack and defense.
  • Don’t play the hero – yet.
  • Check out some pro videos and drills.
  • Have fun.

Of course, that doesn’t give you too much to go on by itself, so we recommend reading the rest of the article, as we go into more detail on each point.

Lead the way, private.

paintball players playing woodsball and aiming by markers

Paintball Tactics & Tips for Beginners


There’s no two ways about it, paintball is going to knock the wind right out of you. The first time I played, I couldn’t breathe after the first 60 seconds of scrambling through the bushes, and nearly threw up.

Of course, it didn’t help that I was a heavy smoker at the time, and it was for a bachelor party.

I cannot stress enough just how important fitness is when it comes to paintball. We’ve all seen the movie Zombieland – cardio is the number one rule for escaping the undead.

The same can be said for staying one step ahead of your paintball opponents.

So, before you go out there for the inevitable bloodbath, try to have a decent level of fitness, so you don’t pass out during the first dash for cover.

At the very least, make sure to do some stretches as a warm-up – and drink plenty of water. You’re going to be sweating buckets.

A Word on Equipment

Quality paintball equipment will make all the difference to a fun, safe, and successful day – particularly if you’re a beginner.

Check out this article on what to wear for paintball to get you properly kitted out with the right clothing.

If you’re playing at a dedicated field, then guns and ammo will most likely be supplied, and they should be of a reputable standard.

But if you’re bringing your own gear, never buy inferior paintball guns, or inferior paintballs. Pros and amateurs alike will tell you this is a cardinal sin.

Higher quality guns and ammo will help you avoid the dreaded ‘chop’ – when a pellet jams in your barrel but doesn’t break. Man down – you’re sitting this one out.

Many paintball fields have a rule that you don’t bring in any outside paint, anyway, which does make a lot of sense – even though it means they’ve literally got you by your balls for buying their balls.

That doesn’t mean you can’t find decent, inexpensive gear and equipment and bring it to battle. Head on over and check out this review of the best budget-friendly paintball guns on the market for some great examples.

Your own gun is likely to be much better than the basic guns supplied at fields as standard.

But perhaps one of the best pieces of advice any experienced paintballer can give a beginner, is to wear the best possible paintball mask you can find. Particularly if you’re prone to heavy sweating, and/or you wear eyeglasses.

Seriously, this shit is going to make a massive difference to your day, from your comfort to your safety – so don’t cut corners here. Follow the link above for some excellent options. Anti-fog is essential.

Come prepared with quality gear, and you’ll already be in a great position to have an awesome experience, with an edge over the opposition.

paintball recreation battle in woods

Rules and Regulations

It’s as simple as this – KNOW THEM AND FOLLOW THEM.

Sometimes, rules and regulations can be bent and broken (just ask Neo in the Matrix). But NOT WHEN IT COMES TO PAINTBALL.

They are there to keep you and all the other players safe, and ensure everyone has a good time without losing an eye.

Rules will vary depending on the type of game (more on that, below), but the following points are commonly universal:

  • No point-blank shooting (keep 10-15 feet away).
  • No alcohol or drug use.
  • No firing blind – no different to a real firearm.
  • No removing of masks, goggles, or protective gear during the game.
  • No cheating!
  • Obey the Marshall at all times.

That list is by no means exhaustive, but you get the picture. When in doubt, contact the field you’re playing at for a full list of their on-site house rules and regulations.

Terrain and Game Type

You might be playing speedball, you might be getting deep into a MilSim (military simulation, sometimes called “scenario-specific”). You might be in a wood, you might be in an open field.

And you might be playing in all kinds of conditions, in any one of four seasons.

There are hundreds of paintball game types, and multiple terrains in which we enjoy them on.

Know your surroundings, understand the game, the objective, and what’s expected of you. This will also help in your choice of clothing, depending on the terrain, the time of year, the weather, and the camouflage required.

Wearing the best pants for paintball will help you negotiate that terrain, with unrestricted movement, as well as offering the possibility of pellets not actually exploding on your body. Check out that link for more.

Either way, no matter the game or environment, everyone has a part to play – even the fresh meat.

Incidentally, you can check out this article on speedball versus woodsball, to understand the differences and find out which is best for you.

paintball player in protective uniform and mask aiming sniper rifle

Staying Calm

New paintball players have a tendency to let nerves, excitement, or fear get to them, so much so that you might shit your fatigues before the whistle blows.

And panicking once you’re out there is going to be the fastest way to get you dead.

It’s important you try to remain calm, stay focussed, and control your breathing. This can be challenging, especially if you’re not used to wearing the mask. Anxiety attacks are not uncommon.

Just take your time, slow things down, and remember you can always step off the field of play into the safe zone if you need to. Just don’t take your gear off until you’re inside the designated area.

But it’s natural for adrenaline to take over – hell, that’s why we do it! Just try to keep your feet on the ground if you want to stay out of the deadbox.

Remaining rock steady and in control is also vital when you’ve got the enemy in your sights. It can mean the difference between spraying paintballs everywhere but the target, or nailing that sucker right in the chest.

Maintain a Low Profile

You watch any intermediate or pro paintball match, and you’ll immediately see how the players are holding themselves, how they move forward, and their body language.

For a start, you should always be leading with your gun. Keeping your head behind your hopper is a useful technique, as is turning to the side.

Blowing my own horn, I used to be pretty decent at laser tag back in the day, because I learned pretty quickly that lowering your forward profile gives opponents less of a target to shoot at.

And that’s easily transferable to the more big-boy sport of paintball. Turn your shoulders, keep your elbows in, kneel, crouch into a ball, or go prone.

Whatever position you decide to take up, make yourself as small as you can, and they’ll have less of a chance of hitting you.

If you float around like the Goodyear Blimp, you’re asking to be painted up, so keep your head down.

paintball player wearing mask and holding marker in knee position

Find Good Cover

Which leads us nicely on to one of the most important paintball tactics for beginners – or anyone, for that matter.

Finding good cover is essential.

And by “good cover,” I mean anything that’s going to stop a paintball hitting you.

If you’re playing speedball, get down behind those large inflatables, so you don’t have any part of your body exposed.

In woodsball, it can be a bit more tricky, as trees or bushes might not be wide or dense enough to prevent pot shots from hitting their mark. Try to stay behind solid objects where you can.

When moving from cover to cover, go low, go fast, and don’t be afraid to pull off the odd dive, slide, or commando roll to make it – terrain permitting, of course. Use some common sense.

Look for other cover options on the field. Most decent paintball locations will offer houses, forts, bunkers, old cars, buses, hay bails, oil drums, and even tanks to hide in and behind.

And once you’re hidden, you can use one of these paintball sniper rifles to pick off unaware opponents, and turn the tide in your team’s favor.

Conserve Ammo

One thing I see beginners do all the time is spaff all their ammo in the first five minutes. You’re not going to get very far if your hopper runs dry.

Good paintball paint can run expensive, so there’s no point in blazing $200 of the stuff during the first game. Unless, you want to, and you can afford it, of course – be my guest.

Even so, you’ll need to stop and refill, which will take you out of the game, and you could lose momentum, a valuable position, or time storming the enemy position.

Likewise, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of gas for the day, and replace the canister if you begin to see a visible dip in your shots.

Whatever you do – never pick ammo up off the floor. It’s tainted, out of shape, and dirty – all of which can ruin the insides of a paintball gun.

Although it might be tempting when you see a stack of spilled, unexploded paint – stay away. You have been warned.

Accuracy and Shooting

If you’ve never fired a paintball gun before, there’s a pretty easy learning curve, but it will take practice to master your accuracy.

While it might look pretty badass, shooting from the hip isn’t going to give you the highest hit ratio.

There’s a technique the pros use, and mastering a few of the basics should help improve your strike rate with a little practice.

Then it’s all about running those drills, baby.

Take a look at the video below for some awesome tips on paintball accuracy and shooting.


Just because you’ve found some nice cover doesn’t mean you should hide there for the whole game – there’s work to be done.

And an important aspect to winning a paintball match is to know thy enemy.

If you’ve found a good vantage point, you can be extremely useful to your team by calling out enemy positions, and generally seeing what they’re up to.

Recon can be just as useful as a gung-ho murder spree, so try to control yourself and don’t give away your position too soon.

There will be plenty of time to strike, but there’s a great feeling of being able to see your opponents in the line of fire while they have no idea that you’re there. Here’s a good example.

In my first ever paintball match, circa the mid 90s, I thought I was approaching an unguarded part of the enemy base.

Heart racing, I was sure to have found the backdoor, and would take them all out before they had any idea what hit them.

I was low, I was slow, stopping every few moments to check the situation. Cautiously I approached, and just as I was closing in, I was lit up by a paintball from the undergrowth right in front of me.

Such was the shock, I let out a less than masculine squeal, to the hilarity of my buddies.

There, less than five feet away, was a dude lying motionless, prone, and camouflaged. Unflinching, nerves of steel, waiting for the best moment to take the shot.

He must have been watching me walk all the way, right into his perfect trap, totally unaware of his presence. The patience of a saint.

A lesson was learned that day. You should learn it, too.

Teamwork and Communication

As fun as it is to fly solo sometimes, you’re not going to get anywhere without your team. That’s why teamwork and communication is vital to success.

You look at any battle that was ever fought, anywhere, ever. Victory stands or falls on keeping the channels open, while disrupting your enemy’s ability to do the same.

Pro paintball teams will have a full system worked out. Signs, codes, signals – the lot. Some teams have full radio gear – just like the military.

You might not have time to learn everything on the day, but at least pay attention to your teammates, where they are, and where they are in relation to enemy troop movements.

Call out opponents, signal your intention to your comrades, and talk to each other. If you spot enemy forces in a flanking position, don’t keep that shit to yourself!

And it’s always a good idea to discuss a strategy with your brothers and sisters in arms before the game begins.

Even if it’s just a brief chat back at HQ, having even the most basic plan can help you win more times than you lose, and certainly if you have none at all.

paintball players in goggle masks aiming with marker guns

Attack and Defense Tactics

As important as teamwork and communication is, so too is understanding your personal role, with regard to attack and defense.

While you’re safe at HQ, see if you can establish the best possible balance between these two disciplines with your squad. Who goes where and when is very important.

I’ve seen capture-the-flag games where the whole team charges out in a bid for glory, only to leave their own base wide open for the counter.

Sure, in any sport, defense might not be the most glamorous position, but it’s certainly the most vital. Just ask the Italian soccer team.

Take turns in going forward or hanging back. Mix things up a bit, be unpredictable. Go left, go right, go in a small squad, or hunker down and wait for the opposition to dare to approach you.

‘Zoning’ is the term given to organizing players into covering different areas of the field – depending on game type and objectives. If you’re given a role, you shouldn’t deviate from it.

A huge part of the fun is getting your tactics spot on – but you need to have some in the first place.

Don’t Play the Hero

Alright, so we’ve all had delusions of grandeur about this epic run and gun moment where you single-handedly take out the opposition and then your teammates raise you in the air as a gesture of gratitude, love and adoration.

It’s not gonna happen.

Well, it sometimes does.

As tempting as it might be to charge off and play the hero, try to reign it in a bit – especially if you’re brand new to the sport, and you actually want your team to stand a chance of winning.

In one of my early games, I legged it out of the base all alone, only to come right back with my tail between my legs and covered in paint – having run right into the enemy’s advance defenses.

Scouting things out would have prevented that, and perhaps saved my blushes, which were thankfully hidden by a paintball mask.

Those bruises were pretty obvious the next day, though. And speaking of bruises, you might want to check out this article on which hurts more – paintball or airsoft?

Have Fun

Perhaps the number one beginner paintball tip – is to have fun. Enjoy yourself, don’t take things too seriously, and don’t lose the plot if you fail to win first time.

Remember – it’s just a game.

I’ve seen all sorts of meltdowns on paintball fields over the years, and let me tell you – witnessing these whining babies ain’t pretty.

Laugh it off, relax, be a good sport, and you’ll have a lot more fun than those guys, without making yourself look like a douchebag in the process.

Check Out Some Videos

If you’re really serious about paintball, or you just want to get the drop on your mates who have also never played before, then I recommend checking out some how-to videos on the internet.

YouTube is a great place to start, and it features footage from all kinds of paintball matches, at all skill levels and abilities.

Watching pro tournaments is a good way to get familiar with movement, tactics, and shooting techniques.

Start by checking out the video below – but that’s just scratching the surface of the epic paintball content that’s out there if you look.

And you can also learn a lot by following the best paintball brands in the business, so check out that link to find more quality peeps in the community that are only too happy to help with paintball tactics for beginners.


Paintball is a dangerous sport, and by that I mean, it’s dangerously addictive. Once you’ve had your first taste, you’ll keep coming back for more.

But we all have to start somewhere, and I hope this guide on paintball tips for beginners has helped in some way to make the adventure even more accessible to a new generation of players.

Stay safe out there, and happy ballin’!