How to Practice
League of Legends (or anything)

By SleepyKnight
Coach at Microcoaching

Climbing in League is not easy and becomes more difficult as you continue to reach higher ranks. No matter one’s current rank the most effective way consistently improve performance is with a disciplined and targeted practice regimen. Unfortunately as soon the session begins you’re going to be asking yourself so many questions it can quickly become overwhelming.

League is supposed to be fun, but practice is usually challenging, mentally taxing, and sometimes boring. What we want to do is get the most out of the time we do dedicate to those grueling practice sessions and just like after a hard session at the gym, feel good about ourselves. This article will help you learn the methods to creating the perfect practice experience.

This guide outlines four steps to building a solid practice program. Setting your goals, developing and employing methods, evaluate the results, and taking time to celebrate your achievements. This guide will make you better at league of legends and the process will fill you with a sense of confidence that will make you a dominant force on Summoner’s Rift.

1. Setting Your Goals

The first step to getting better at anything is to decide where you want to end up after you have put your of time and effort into improving some aspect of yourself. The obvious goal is usually the next tier -- Bronze IV ,Gold 5, Plat 2 and so on. While this is definitely a useful metric to prove that your skill has increased, it doesn't actually help you figure out what you need to practice! You need to set specific, realistic, measurable, and attainable goals.

Here’s a list of some of the ones that come up often in league:

  • Creep score at 10, 20, and 30 minutes
  • Scuttle crab kills
  • Enemy jungle camps stolen
  • 1st Bloods
  • Damage per minute
  • Skill shot hit rate
  • Dragons secured
  • Barons Secured
  • Vision Score
  • Split push decision success rate

Some of these goals will require more effort to measure and master than others, but all of them reveal valuable information about your gameplay. It’s also important when you’re setting your goals that you consider your two preferred roles. One of the things that makes league even more difficult is how different the game is for each role. For example, if you’re a jungler you need to have your first clear on lock. Meanwhile if you’re a mid laner your ward timing and position had better be well planned. Moreover, it is essential to prioritize the areas of focus in your practice by their impact on YOUR game. There is no point in sinking 10-20 hours into securing neutral objectives if you are jungle pathing is not optimized.

If you don’t know where you should start, always go back to the basics. These fundamental skills that everything else is built on. In league these are knowing your abilities, items, laning, and creep score (CS) to name a few. It never ceases to amaze me how many times I discover something I didn’t know by reading a tool-tip. Just the other day I learned that duskblade has a 99% slow for 0.25 seconds on your first hit after being unseen for 1 second. This makes landing a triple shuriken on zed incredibly easy and will often be the difference between a won and lost fight! This doesn’t sound too bad right, but not everything is as simple as reading a tooltip. Now we have to figure out how to practice those more complicated aspects of the game.

2. Develop Methods

Now you’ve done some honest and thoughtful self-reflection and you’ve made a decision on what aspect of your game will get you the most LP for your gold. Developing the “How” in practicing comes next. This aspect can be the very difficult because of the dynamic and sometimes ambiguous nature of a League of Legends match.

Start with one simple, broad question: “Why?”. Then ask it again and again and again until you find the root cause of problem. This clip is a great example clip of Louis CK showing how deep the why rabbit hole can go. It’s important to keep yourself focused, so make sure you don’t go too far and focus on things outside of your control.

Okay come back to league! We need to be specific so you may ask yourself: “Okay! I have really low damage per minute (DPM), but how do I fix that?” This question allows you to determine the reasons your DPM is low. The issue may be that you are dying too early in team fights, you’re not landing your spells, or (as usually is my problem) playing too cautious because you’re worried about making a mistake. All of these are valid causes, and each has a different and unique solution. If you are dying too early, then you need to review replays and analyze the enemy’s perspective to highlight the steps that lead to your death.

Alternatively, you may consider changing your play-style to a more judicious approach and increase the aggressiveness as you experiment. No matter your given approach, you’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone to learn your own and your champions’ limitations. Never be afraid to experiment, but be precise and thoughtful about the way you do it.

On the other hand, if you’re not landing your skills, the method of practice is little bit more straightforward. First, you need to know when you should use your skills and second you need to watch or play games and identify those real moments where you have a high probability to land your skill shots.

For example, enemy players are most vulnerable when attempting to kill a minion or chasing an opponent against a wall. If the enemy is against a wall there are typically only two choices of how to dodge. Their options are either to flash/dash or walk away in a perpendicular direction from the wall (assuming you are in range to attack). In comparison to an “open-field” scenario, the probability of landing a hit on your opponent decreases because the number of directions available to your opponent to move or dodge has greatly increased.

3. Employ Methods and Evaluate Results

Congrats on reaching Step 3! You’ve set goals and developed your practice methods. It’s time to figure out if you’ve learned anything. Imagine you played 20 games with your focus point of increasing your DPM damage and noticed that you’ve not shown an increase in DPM. You need to go back to step two and think of other possible solutions. It could be your itemization, death rate, early game, and a plethora of other factors. The continuous and conscious employment of the process is how you reach your goals. Unfortunately it’s not easy to stay focused over one game, much less 20 games, or 100 games. I have to use all my energy to focus on whatever goal I’ve set for myself most of the time, but in the end the improvement comes, even if it comes slowly.

4. Celebrate Your Achievements

This process usually feels like you’re working yourself to death for little gain and then one day you wake up and you’ve attained your goals. It’s important to step back from the game and the grind at that point and just take time to enjoy the results you’ve attained. If you’ve reach that new bracket go into some normal and low pressure games and play for fun you’ll help avoid burning out. I remember the first time I hit Diamond, I wanted to just keep grinding all the way to challenger (lol yeah right). This lead to me going on autopilot, playing low effort, growing toxic, and eventually getting demoted back to platinum before the season ended. I didn’t even get my sweet border so it’s almost like I was never really diamond.

All in all it’s a long process to improve at something as complicated and dynamic as League of Legends, but if you create a solid plan with specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic goals you’ll get there. Set a goal, develop your methods, evaluate your results, and take time to celebrate your milestones and you’ll make it there. You often here the saying “practice makes perfect” but in reality practice makes permanent, so maybe we should say “perfect practice makes perfect.”

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