Cross-Training for Esports Performance: Effectiveness and Interventions

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In this article, we’ll assess the benefits of cross-training in esports performance. In particular, we’ll be looking at how it can be used to better develop skills, build creativity, and help avoid burnout.


Reid “x0tek” Johnson

Twitter | Liquipedia

Esports Coach

Reid “x0tek” Johnson began his esports career in 2003, playing in a World Cyber Games qualifier for Age of Mythology. While he was disqualified in this first event due to his young age, x0tek’s later career tells a different story. From turn based strategy games to tactical shooters, x0tek’s nearly 20 years as a competitor would bring multiple world and national titles across a variety of games. With the advent of the pandemic in 2020, x0tek took time away from competition to explore coaching. Since then, he has:

  • Coached the first Egyptian team to ever top an international esports professional league, Team Anubis, in CrossFire
  • Coached then-Australian juggernaut the Soniqs in Valorant, reaching top-ten in the North American rankings
  • Coached Cloud9 White’s game changers roster, winning a national championship and becoming the first all-womens team to break into the top 40 rankings of a major esport
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What Will You Learn?

  • Introduction
  • Cross-Training to Build Skill
  • Mechanical Skill
  • Teamwork and Coordination
  • Multi-Tasking
  • Cross-Training to Enhance Creativity
  • Mechanical Creativity
  • New Tactics and Strategies
  • "Yomi" and Calculated Gambles
  • Cross-Training to Reduce Burnout
  • Conclusion


In the esports performance world, there remains an unspoken belief – really a system of beliefs – among many competitors. “If you’re trying to improve,” the mentality goes, “Don’t play other games. And definitely don’t change your settings.”

This mindset makes intuitive sense. It is one of consistency. After all – each hour you spend with new settings is an hour where your muscle memory is being overwritten, degraded, and replaced. Each hour you spend playing another game is one less hour of practice. This has the ring of logic to it.

And yet, cross-training is a widely recognized practice in traditional sports, helping athletes stay in shape while avoiding burnout, improve their creativity, or even better develop game-specific skills. However, the esports world has largely ignored these benefits. Competitors may play other games to relax for example – but it’s rarely viewed as a recovery portion of their training regimen, or an additional vector of improvement.

In this article, we’ll assess the benefits of cross-training in esports. In particular, we’ll be looking at how it can be used to better develop skills, build creativity, and help avoid burnout.

It’s important to first note that esports is an incredibly multi-faceted ecosystem, and different titles will require different training regimens. However, by analyzing game-specific examples, we can gain insights into how cross-training can help esports athletes unlock their full potential.

Neymar. A name famous in not only football (or soccer, for U.S. readers), but also in Counter-Strike esports circles. The football legend has won 3 Champion’s League titles, and his impressive scoring and speed have cemented him as an all-time great in the sport.

And yet, most of his youth was spent playing another game entirely. A similar, yet fundamentally different, game called futsal. This was true for other football legends, such as Pele, Ronaldinho, and Xavi. Futsal is at its core a faster paced, more aggressive and technically demanding football, giving each player more opportunities to handle the ball. Esports medicine

Esports are no different, with transferable skills playing a huge role for many titles and competitors. When Riot launched Valorant, many of the best players were former Counter-Strike professional players. When a new Street Fighter title comes out, many players from different fighting games such as Mortal Kombat or Tekken often will shine in the early stages. Esports Performance

This phenomenon can be used to not only excel at new games, but to develop skills for professional and amateur players at their current games. This section dives into some of the ways in which this might be possible.

“Futsal has been very important in my life…in developing my technique, quick thinking, short movements…I think futsal is fundamental in a footballer’s career. It was very important in mine.”

– Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, Professional Footballer

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The largest collection of gaming-specific health, fitness, and performance information on the internet, brought to you by the experts currently working in the industry with top-tier esport organizations.

Organizations that have benefited from the expertise of our authors include Cloud 9, Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, FNATIC, G2, TSM, and more.