Science behind getting better in League of Legends

Published at 2018-05-22 22:19:57 - Edited at 2019-03-25 18:06:51


The question how many hours do you need to spend on a task to be a true master of it surely crawled into your mind at some point in your life. It’s an important thing to consider when you try to manage your time and plan your life accordingly. Ten thousand hours rule, that says that you need to spend at least 10,000 hours on something to be a true master is fixed in mind of numerous people especially professional athletes, musicians, and scientists. The term was coined by Anders Ericsson in 1993 based on his paper “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance”. What a lot of people miss in his work is that during this 10,000 hours you need to perform deliberate practice which means that you need to consciously and intentionally practice your weakest aspect of the thing you want to get good in. Before we dig into what deliberate practice means and how we can apply it to League of Legends to get better at the game lets see how practice whether deliberate or not affects your brain.

How practice affects your brain

“Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement, and it helps us perform with more ease, speed, and confidence.”

~Ted Ed

Whenever you issue a command to your body it begins in a grey matter where information is processed and electrical signal starts, for it to be effective it needs to travel all the way to your muscles through your spinal cord and axons (Axons are nothing else but nerve fibers). To preserve the quality of the information contained in electrical signals from your brain axons are covered with myelin that acts in a similar fashion to the isolation of electrical cables.

Whenever you practice myelin layer thickens and isolates better.

“… The repetition of a physical motion increases the layers of myelin sheath that insulates the axons. And the more layers, the greater the insulation around the axon chains, forming a sort of superhighway for information connecting your brain to your muscles.”
~Ted Ed

This process creates so-called muscle memory and increases your reaction time substantially.

How to practice effectively in League of Legends

Effective practice is consistent and targets your weakest aspects that are at the edge of your current abilities. While you practice you should aim to focus entirely on the task at hand, this means that you should turn off all possible distractions like Facebook, cellphone and anything else that might be disturbing.

Start slowly

Before you go right into a ranked game you should warm up your brain and muscles. Follow this routine for maximal performance in LoL:

Start with this warm-up:

After you are done follow this in game warm-up:

  • Click this link and set the timer for 10 seconds.
  • Enter practice tool with tank runes and don’t buy any items. Go to any lane that you usually play on.
  • Start the timer and look at your mini-map whenever timer rings while trying to CS as many minions as you can and record your performance for future comparison.
  • Enter ranked game about 2-3 divisions below your peak elo and play at least 1-2 games but no more than 3. If you are practicing your map awareness at this session you can keep timer turned on.

The greatest thing about it is that you will see better results in your serious ranked games right away!

Frequent repetitions with allotted breaks

Every part of your body gets tired after frequent and intensive usage including your brain. Your organism stores glucose reserves for your brain to use but after a while, they will get depleted and your focus won’t be clear enough for the practice to be effective. To prevent that elite violinists studied by Mr. Erikson were engaging in the deliberate practice for about 90 minutes (around 2-3 games), followed by short 10-15 minutes breaks and naps sometime in afternoon.

You can also try Pomodoro technique of 25 minutes practice (around 1 game) followed by 5-7 minute breaks.

Whichever practice you choose to keep in mind that the amount and duration of breaks are as important as their quality. Mindlessly browsing memes or texting your SO doesn’t count as one. Examples of quality break would be:


Recent studies suggest that Yogis and Buddhists were right for thousands of years and breathing focused practices strengthen our focus and give us other cognitive benefits:

increased ability to focus, decreased mind wandering, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased emotional reactivity, along with many others. To date, however, no direct neuropsychological link between respiration and cognition has been suggested.

The research shows for the first time that breathing – a key element of meditation and mindfulness practices – directly affects the levels of a natural chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical messenger is released when we are challenged, curious, exercised, focused or emotionally aroused, and, if produced at the right levels, helps the brain grow new connections, like a brain fertilizer. The way we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.

~ Trinity College in Dublin article

That’s why I highly recommend you to dig into it and include meditation practice before your games. From my experience, it doesn’t only allow you to get good but also has more meaningful life and a bit more introspection into who you are hence decreasing potential tilt which might cloud your judgment.

Click the video below if you want to learn more about positive effects of meditation condensed into 3 minutes video from asapscience

There are numerous ways to start meditation and breathing practices. The only secular recommendation I can make at this time is headspace app. It has some basic content available for free and more sessions cost quite a while, but it’s still a very good start in my opinion. I will talk more about it in a different article if you are interested in that topic let me know 🙂

You can also read about mindfulness breathing here.

Practice in your imagination

Numerous studies suggest that what you learned during practice can be reinforced just by imagining it in your brain. In one of the studies 120 basketball players were randomly divided into four groups to determine which one will be the most successful in free throwing :

  1. Physical practice group
  2. Mental practice group
  3. Both mental and physical practice group
  4. No practice group

The results were quite surprising:

results demonstrated that the mental imagery group did improve their free
throw shooting, although was not statistically significant.
However, the combination of physical and mental practice proved to be
statistically significant when compared to the control group.

That’s why i recommend that after each game instead of randomly browsing memes you should mentally go through your last game and think what were your mistakes and how to avoid them. Replay team fights in your mind and think how you could have executed and get better in League of Legends.

How to pick weakness you should target

To correctly pick a theme for our practice we should divide League of Legends to fragments and target each separately. Most people stop at micro and macro gameplay division but we want to dig deeper than this, so lets divide micro and macro as well.


  • Csing/minute (how many minions you get per minute on average)
  • Precision of your mouse clicks
  • Juking
  • Hitting your skillshots
  • Reaction time
  • Correct usage of abilities and items
  • How you use tools available inside the game like hotkeys, smart-casts, target champions only, F keys etc. (I will cover this in future articles)
  • Watching mini-map


  • Understanding of your’s and enemy’s winning conditions
  • Ability to distinguish between winning, neutral and loosing match ups and how to execute them
  • Proper positioning inside lane
  • How and when to rotate
  • Tracking enemy jungler
  • How to take objectives
  • Vision game
  • How to close game

Now try to take each separate ability that i just outlined and rate yourself from 1-20 and focus on the ones you feel you are under performing with. To give you a perspective lets consider the difference between different tiers in watching mini-map. An average bronze player almost never looks at mini-map, silver player every 40-60 seconds, gold 30-40, platinum, 15-30, diamond 5-15, master/challenger takes a glimpse after every command. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if you look at map every X seconds you need to be Y rank, someone can get to mid/high platinum with 2 on our scale so he’s looking at mini-map as often as high bronze player but his other skills are way above average so he managed to climb all the way to plat.

So the key to getting better in League of Legends and deliberate practice will be targeting the skills that you are under performing with and fixing it as quick as possible to enable you to climb the ranks.

Obviously, it’s a hard and close to impossible to look at your performance objectively that’s why we can help you out with our coaching sessions.

Don’t play on a losing streak

If you’ve just had a frustrating team or exhausting loss just take a break and reset your mindset in each game you should be focused on improving not on what happened in a previous game.

Lower your champion pool

When playing you should remove all variables that might be interfering with constant and focused practice. One of the most common mistakes people make is they try playing too many champions and playstyles at once. Try picking 2-3 champions with similar winning conditions and focus on learning the game instead of learning a new champion every game. Applying this simple idea will allow you to not only focus on macro and objective oriented game but also understand better what trades you should take.

Remember to exercise

Physical activities have numerous positive effects on your health and your brain. Exercises reduces insulin resistance and inflammation effects, affects a creation of new brain cells and increases blood flow in your brain and much more. So remember to follow WHO recommendation and do at least 60 minutes of real life physical activities per day!

Good luck on Summoners Rift

I hope that this article will help you to get better in League of Legends and enjoy a stress free game. Remember that games are made to be enjoyed as well as being competitive 🙂 If you see any mistakes in the article or you wish to add something let me know in the comments. Good luck!


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