Esports & Sports Science - Lachlan Parker
Can you introduce yourself?
Heyo! My name is Lachlan Parker, a 23 year old Rehabilitation Counselling student from La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. I recently graduated with a Bachelor in Sport and Exercise Science, having the opportunity to engage in over 300 clinical placement hours, achieving a Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance and working alongside the Melbourne Rebels as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach. I am also the founder of Mindclickers – an Esports Performance and Psychology podcast, that provides an in-depth insight into the life of Esports professional players, coaches, shoutcasters, organization owners and researchers. I have been playing for well over 10 years, previously competing in CoD 4 Promod & StarCraft 2 at the Masters level. My passion for the esports scene has only grown stronger as I’ve had the opportunity to talk with some of the professionals I’ve idolized throughout my time gaming.
Tell us a bit about your work in esports. What is your area of expertise, and what is your approach?
My practical within esports is fairly new, however my passion for esports has been long-lasting, as I hope to actively promote a positive physical and mental change within the Oceania region. As a part of my passion for esports, I founded Mindclickers with the goal to indirectly promote change to casual and competitive gamers, by sharing the thought processes of why professionals do what they do, and how they adopt various psychological strategies in a very high pressure environment. Being able to talk with other allied health professionals in the field of Sleep research, Nutrition and Physiotherapy has exposed young gamers to adopt new interventions into their gaming patterns, which they otherwise would not have. I have previously done 1 on 1 individualized coaching in StarCraft 2, where I helped to work with players on match analysis and understanding stress management. My goal is to ultimately be able to assist players through my experience in Sport science, by adopting measurements and cognitive tests to further help promote performance, paired with my counselling skills to help adopt change.
What impact do you aim to have on the team and athletes you work with?
My main goal when working with athletes is to help acknowledge change. When an athlete understands that doing "x" can help impact "y", we have already taken a giant step towards promoting a better overall quality of life. Whilst I can not directly force change, it is important to help the athlete take a step back and look at there performance/mental health from an external perspective. This will help them develop an understanding of the small things that they are doing, without realizing it. By doing that, you can gradually introduce interventions to help holistically impact their decision making to promote change. One of the continuous problems I have seen with esports athletes is addressing ambivalence. That is, when athletes understand that doing something like wrist warmups before an intensive high APM (actions per minute) game can help reduce strain, however don’t go ahead and actually do them. As I am quite new into the esports performance and coaching scene, most of my work has revolved around StarCraft 2 and stress regulation. StarCraft is known to be one of the hardest games to play, as there are multiple variables that must be accounted for, whilst playing in a 1v1 scenario. Based on that, the mental impacts of a loss are a lot heavier because there is no one apart from themselves to lay the blame on for small, obvious mistakes. In this environment, it is important to first address their mindset outside of the game, before playing. By adopting stress reducing techniques such as visualization or meditation, it can help athletes picture themselves performing well.
Why do you think physical training is important for esports athletes/teams and how do you think they can benefit from it?
I may be biased coming from a very physical upbringing; achieving my black belt in Taekwondo and starting bodybuilding at the age of 17. Physical training has been continuously stretched by research which shows positive physiological and psychological benefits. We have seen research supporting compound movements such as a bench press or deadlift to strengthen the posterior back and hip flexors, ultimately helping to correct anterior dominance. Whether or not physical training has a direct impact on in game performance is negligible, as it will indirectly help to improve quality of life. Physiologically we can see improvements in both the nervous system and musculoskeletal system, as even cardiovascular exercise can help to reduce heart rate, which ultimately may indirectly impact stress regulation and ones ability to keep calm. As gaming often requires athletes to be seated for very long periods of time, adopting an exercise routine can drastically help to split apart the daily grind, many gamers experience. The most important thing for the esports scene going forward, is to ensure that we are being open to change, especially when the age entry is gradually becoming reduced. When this happens, younger and younger athletes will start to join teams, whilst simultaneously juggling other external life stresses. Therefore, breaking apart this grind by exercising can help drastically increase an individuals potential to have a long lasting and successful career.