How to Play Speedball

How to Play Speedball

While the object of any game of paintball is to win – generally by hanging a flag – while eliminating opponents from the game by marking them with paintballs, speedball really breaks the game down to its basic elements. The most athletic form of paintball and the style of play where the game of paintball truly becomes a sport, speedball challenges a paintball player to perfect their craft and win with teamwork, communication, athleticism and gun skills!

Speedball is a style of paintball played between two small teams of opponents starting at opposite ends of a small, flat paintball field populated not by trees or structures, but cover like inflatable bunkers called Air Ball, corrugated piping called Hyperball, or other items like cable spools, barrels or other forms of mad-made cover. The field is often mirrored, meaning that bunkers are in the same place on either team’s end of the field to keep things fair, and field size is much smaller than the fields used for wooded or recreational play: there’s no guesswork about where the bad guys are, so the objective becomes eliminating them before they eliminate YOU.

Speedball-style paintball eliminates a great deal of the “fieldcraft” players who enjoy paintball in the woods work hard to perfect – the sneaky aspect of the game where players work to outwit one-another and disappear into the woods, only to reappear and wreak havoc on unsuspecting opponents. Rather, speedball puts everyone close together and challenges players to out-shoot, out-work and out-play one another. Hence the “speed” in the name, everything happens in moments, rather than minutes and inches count – leave a hopper hanging over the top of a bunker or lead with an elbow when coming out to shoot and it’s all over! Therefore, winning at the game of speedball means honing an edge – learning to work together with teammates while simultaneously becoming a better individual player by constantly working on the basics of the game like gun skills and athleticism.

Playing successful speedball means understanding the objective of the game and working together with a team to achieve that common goal. As speedball games are won by hanging a flag, and that flag can only be hung when the bad guys are eliminated, that means working together to get those opponents off the field. When a speedball game begins, usually when a horn sounds, players must get paint in the air as quickly as possible. That said, it’s not about simply blasting towards the opponents and hoping for the best, but about each player taking responsibility for a specific role. Some players will need to work to eliminate opponents early in the game by shooting not where an opponent is, but where they’re going to be, by putting a stream of paintballs into a spot through which an opponent is going to move. While those players are doing the shooting, smaller and faster teammates can move quickly up the field to take key spots, then turn their paintball guns towards opponents who they now have a better angle on.

Players should decide before the game who’s going to handle what responsibility. Some players need to head to the left side of the field, others need to go right, and some players need to shoot while others move. This type of teamwork will take the guesswork out of the game once the paint is in the air and the adrenaline is pumping. Once it’s decided who’s going where, each player needs to understand what they’re supposed to do once they’ve accomplished that task. Players running up the field headed to important bunkers need to know what to look at and where to point their guns once they get there, while players staying closer to the back of the field and doing the shooting need to know what their job is after the first few moments of the game – usually making sure teammates in front of them know where the opponents are that they can’t see, and helping to make sure those teammates up front stay in the game by keeping opponents away from them.


Communication during a game of speedball is critical to success. Players way up front, looking at very specific points on the field and otherwise keeping their heads down to avoid incoming paint can’t see much of the field, so players further back who can take a look around need to keep their teammates informed as to where the bad guys are. Likewise, when those bad guys are eliminated and walking off the field, everyone on the team needs to know that an opponent was eliminated as this changes the game, and where the eliminated opponent came from, as this may open up one side of the field to create an opportunity to move forward. Players further back must take the responsibility to keep track of how many opponents are on the field and where they are, then work together with their teammates to move forward for better angles when an opportunity presents itself. This all happens by talking back and forth during the game! No one player can see everything, but every player can see something, and when this information is communicated throughout the team, a complete picture of what’s happening can be put together!

Once the paint is flying and everyone’s talking, things in a speedball game can get pretty hectic. That’s when the individual skills become important. Players should avoid sticking their heads up to take a look around, and only come out with their paintball gun already shouldered and ready to fire, as seeing an opponent then trying to pull up and take a shot requires too much time in a game decided by moments and inches. Always be ready to shoot! Even a missed shot is an opportunity in a speedball game: if a player shoots at an opponent and misses, but that opponent ducks and hides, that’s a chance to move to a different position for a better angle! During gunfights, players should never come out the same side of their bunker twice – as this makes them an easy target. Rather, come out shooting from the right side, then the left, standing up and then crouching and so-on, so opponents can’t simply shoot at a spot they know you’ll appear in.

By polishing basic individual skills and working together as a team towards the common goal of winning the game, speedball can be an extremely intense and fun form of paintball! Paintball players looking to advance beyond recreational play and become a true paintball athlete will find their home inside the net of a speedball field, where glory, fun and a few welts await!

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