How to Play Paintball for the First Time – Essential Guide for Newbies

How to Play Paintball for the First Time

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Paintball is an athletic and challenging sport that can be an awesome day out for friends or an exciting hobby for those who want to master the game. However, we know that it can seem a little scary or overwhelming to a beginner. In this guide, you will find everything you need to know on how to play paintball for the first time with ease! Paintball is meant to be enjoyed by anyone no matter the experience level, so let us help you jump in with confidence.

First Thing’s First – Does Getting Hit With a Paintball Hurt?

The short answer is that yes, getting hit with a paintball can hurt – but probably not as much as you think! There are a few factors that will affect the overall pain level, being: the closer you get hit, where you get hit, and how fast the paintball is moving. This means that a paintball that hits you in the shin at high speed from close range will probably hurt a little more than a paintball shot from far away (especially if it hits you in the rear).

Your pain tolerance will play a role as well, so only you can be the judge in the end. The main thing to take away is that most hits can vary from a stinging impact to a sore bruise. So prepare yourself for a bit of pain and make sure you gear up accordingly! You can check out our article on what it feels like to be hit for a more in-depth explanation and some awesome recommendations for protective paintball gear.

What to Wear While Playing Paintball

You will want to wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothing to play paintball. Anything darkly colored or with a camouflage pattern will be advantageous. There are also many styles of paintball jerseys and other merchandise available if you want to match as a team or want something a little more sporty.

It is recommended that your choice of clothes includes long sleeves and pants, especially as a beginner, as you will probably take more than a few hits! It’s a good idea to bring a change of clothes for the ride home or to play in a sweatshirt or covering you can remove when you’re done playing. This will help protect your car seats from getting too dirty on the way home at the end of a great day. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and ensure they are tightly tied before each match.

Maddog Sports Padded Chest Protector
















In addition to your outer layers, there are many types of protective gear you may wish to wear as well. This can include a chest protector, gloves, neck protector, elbow, and/or knee pads, just to start. You can even find equipment bundles available for sale that are great for beginners to stock up with less hassle. For a deep dive on what to wear for your first time paintballing, check out our article on what to wear during paintball.

Types of Paintball

There are two major types of paintball : woodsball and speedball. Woodsball is exactly as it sounds – a paintball game that is played in the woods, using the natural surroundings to hide, while surprising your opponents and strategically playing the game. Some of these types of games can last up to 24 hours! This is called scenario paintball, is usually played with much larger teams, and requires a story or scenario to be followed and played throughout the game.

Speedball is a faster-paced style of paintball game that is played on a field instead of in the woods. The more common type of speedball for beginners and casual players is hyperball or rec ball. In hyperball, the game field will usually have bunkers or other types of objects scattered throughout to hide behind and use during gameplay.

There is another type of speedball called airball. Airball tends to be a more competitive atmosphere and is played in a smaller field with inflatable bunkers for use during gameplay.

No matter if you choose speedball or woodsball, there are plenty of mini-games that different paintball fields will organize such as capture the flag or zombie hunter games, so try out as many as you can to find your favorite!

What to Bring When Playing Paintball

Empire Paintball X-Ray Single Lens Goggle














Most paintball fields will allow you to rent all the paintball equipment you need, but you can bring your own if you want! The most important piece of protective equipment and the only one that is mandatory for you to wear is a mask. The Empire Paintball X-Ray Single Lens Goggle is a great affordable option. If you’re a little more worried about protecting not just your face but your whole head, the Empire X-Ray V2.1 Thermal PROtector Goggle is another excellent choice.

Many establishments sell food and drinks on-site, but it’s always a good idea to pack your own or call first to check. Bring lots of water to stay hydrated, as it can get hot under all your protective gear! Bring snacks that are easy to open and eat and that will provide lots of energy. You may be rushing from game to game so you’ll want to make sure you can grab a quick snack and then make it to your next event, ready to go!

Common Paintball Rules

Each game of paintball has its own rules, however, there are a few common rules that are applicable in most games and across most fields to ensure the safety of all players. Here are a few of the most common rules you will see no matter where you choose to play paintball:

  • No shooting a paintball player who is within 10-15 feet
  • If you’re not on the paintball field, your barrel sleeve must be on
  • Do not reuse paintballs from the ground
  • No outside paint
  • Do not remove your mask on the field at any time
  • Always listen to and obey the refs
  • Your paintball gun must be calibrated to the site guidelines

That last point is very important and for a newbie can seem a little confusing, but don’t worry! If you’re renting, the guns should be calibrated properly already, and you can get them checked over before the game to be sure. Check here for a more comprehensive list of paintball rules.

When is the Best Time to Play Paintball?

When is the Best Time to Play Paintball












If you found this article outside of summer and you’re wondering when you can get started, don’t worry! Paintball can be enjoyed all year round. Summer and fall are the most popular times, but this sport is enjoyable no matter the time of year. Snow, mud, rain, fallen leaves, and different types of weather all present their own enjoyable elements and you may find you love playing your new hobby all year long. Each season will have its own unique challenges and advantages and you will find that you can learn all sorts of ways to adapt. Check out our guide on how to play paintball in winter!

How to Play Paintball Like a Pro

Just because you’re a beginner, doesn’t mean you need to play like one. With the following tips and tricks, you will be able to learn how to play paintball like a pro in no time!:

Listen to the Rules on How to Play Paintball (and Follow Them!)

Make sure you always listen to the pregame rules and safety instructions given by the referee. Ensuring that everyone knows how to play, what safety precautions are in place, and how to navigate the course properly will ensure that you and everyone else can have the most fun while preventing injury. Failing to follow any of the provided safety rules can result in you being removed from the course, so stay quiet and listen well during these briefings. There may be a time when you break a rule unintentionally and get booted from the game. Don’t let this ruin your day! Simply be polite to the ref, leave the field, and ensure you be extra careful in the next game. It’s all part of learning how to play paintball.

Have a Gameplan

Go in with a game plan and strategize with your friends and teammates. Many paintball minigames include activities such as capture the flag, where there is an end goal that your team must accomplish. Being a team player and using your team to create a solid plan will not only make you more likely to win but will help make sure you have the most fun while playing!

When you have a job, a plan of attack, and team support, the game can become much more thrilling, and everyone involved will have a much better time. Try not to spend too much time hiding, as many games will count how many people you hit and it’s a lot more fun running around the paintball field when you’re actively playing, rather than crouching behind a tree!

Keep Yourself Hidden

Remember to keep yourself concealed when scoping out your opponents. Try not to poke your head straight up over obstacles, or to stick too much of your torso out when peeking around corners. It’s always best when you’re trying to look around an obstacle, to try and peek your head out the side of the object instead of over the top. This will keep you as a smaller target with fewer angles to be hit from. You don’t want to spend your whole game in hiding of course, but in those times when you need cover to find the members of the opposing team and get a good shot, these little changes can make a big difference.

Keep a Positive Attitude

No matter if you and your team win or lose, if you are an instant pro, or need a bit more practice, it’s important to keep a positive attitude. Remember that at the end of the day it’s just a game and you’re here to have fun with your friends. Even if you aim to compete one day, everyone starts somewhere. So take your losses and lessons, practice new skills and new techniques every time, and just enjoy the process when learning how to play paintball!

Final Thoughts on How to Play Paintball

We hope you enjoyed our beginners guide on how to play paintball for the first time and gained some valuable insight into how to play this fun and thrilling sport! And remember – don’t be intimidated by or get too wrapped up in whether or not the paintballs hitting you will hurt. Just have fun and enjoy the game!

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