The Most Overlooked Game Mode: Practice

The Most Overlooked Game Mode: Practice

Practice. Practice. Practice. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, but maybe by the end of this article I’ll convince you to actually act on that thought. I didn’t really up my game until I started utilizing, what many people call, “labbing” or “hitting the lab”, AKA practice mode. If you are constantly throwing picks or can’t handle pressure this is where you need to be. You need to become comfortable with the game in order to excel against players in head to head matches. Those looking to prime their skills in order to beat other players in head to head must utilize practice mode. 

The Math

To play one game of Madden online it takes roughly 45 min – 1 hour. During this game you won’t get that many opportunities to get better. What I mean is you’ll only be running around 30-45 plays (if you aren’t running hurry up) on each side of the ball and in different situations. This is such a small number it makes me cringe. That number of plays doesn’t give you the amount needed to progress your skills. Sure you’ll progress, but it will be at a much smaller pace. In practice mode you’re able to go through 30 plays in a matter of minutes.

Practice Modes

There’s 3 different types of practice modes in Madden 13 you have to pick from.

  1. Normal – The most used practice mode. You can play either offense or defense.
  2. Offense – No defense is on the field. Great opportunity to practice user catches not under duress.
  3. Kickoff – Ability to practice returning, kickoff coverage, squib and onside kicks.

Practice Options

Madden 13 - Madden 13 Practice Mode 1

There are a few options you’ll have in practice mode. By pushing start and going to practice options you can re-spot the ball to practice different scenarios, choose a new play, change the practice type, and switch sides. Also note, if you want to switch your play without pushing start, before calling your next play, push select and you will be brought to the play call screen.

We Talking About Practice??

15-30 minutes a day tossing the pigskin around in practice mode will do wonders for your game. I strongly recommend spending the majority of your time practicing offense.

I recommend this because on offense, the computer defense is somewhat realistic as to how a *sim* user would play defense against you in head to head. For example, if a your opponent calls cover 3, the cornerbacks are going to act the same just as if you called cover 3 in practice.

I cannot say the same for on practicing defense. Playing against the computer offense is a very bad simulation of how an actual person would play offense against you. For example, the computer makes bad reads, constantly tucks the ball and runs, gets rid of it too quick, throws lob passes, and more. This is why I like to stick to offense in practice mode unless you need to tuneup your user defensive skills.

Why Practice Offense?

I will go into depth about practice drills in future articles but for now, here’s why all madden players should be hitting the practice field.

  • Finding good plays - Too many players fall pray to picking the same plays over and over. Be sure to feel out different playbooks and familiarize yourself.
  • QB awareness/poise - Improving where to go with the ball, reading blitzes, avoiding blitzes, hanging in the pocket, knowing when to get rid of it, or when to scramble.
  • Reading your offensive routes - How do your routes react to certain defensive coverages.
  • User catch practice  - Improve on your stick skill.
  • Reading the defense  - Know what defense they are in right when you call hike.
  • Lead pass practice – Know when/where to throw the lead pass.

Why Practice Defense?

Again, I’m not a huge fan of defense in practice. But there’s definitely some advantages to practicing defense.

  • User controls - Opportunity to practice clicking onto cornerbacks for user picks.
  • Play recognition – Being in the right position at the right time.
  • User hits - This goes hand in hand with user control. You’ll have the opportunity to practicing laying that hit stick.
  • Stopping the run - Find plays to help you stop the run. Practice plugging gaps.

Practices Raises Your Awareness Attribute

Like the real NFL, Madden is much more of a decision making and strategy game than many would think it is. It’s about having a personal awareness as to what is happening on the field. You have a clear cut advantage when you know what adjustments to make, what defense the opponent is in, or what offensive play they are going to call. This has nothing to do with any stick skill – it’s about awareness to be in the right play/position at the right time. These things come with experience and time spent in practice mode sprinkled in with h2h games with opponents better than you. With practice you have the ability to increase your personal awareness – a trait I think more people should be talking about.

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