Being a world champion at anything requires a combination of skill, strategy, and mental fortitude. This is true even for those who excel at a game as seemingly simple as rock paper scissors. Yes, that’s right, there are world championship events for the classic playground game, and the players who participate in them are serious contenders.
So, what goes on inside the minds of rock paper scissors world champions? What secrets do they have that make them so successful? To find out, we spoke with a few of the top competitors in the game and got a glimpse into their thought processes.
The first thing that is clear is that these players take the game very seriously. They spend countless hours practicing and refining their skills, just like any other athlete. “I take my training very seriously,” says 2019 world champion Kazuhisa Kaneko of Japan. “I work on my timing, my hand movements, and my concentration.”
Concentration is key, because even the slightest distraction can mean the difference between a win and a loss. “You have to be completely focused on the game,” says 2018 world champion Maxamilian Schneider of Germany. “Any noise, any movement can throw you off.”
Once the game begins, strategy comes into play. Top players don’t just randomly throw out rock, paper, or scissors – they have a plan. “You have to be able to read your opponent’s moves and adapt your strategy accordingly,” says 2017 world champion Andrea Farina of Italy.
Some players rely on patterns to guide their choices. “I look for patterns in my opponent’s moves and try to predict what they will throw next,” explains US national champion Tim Conrad. “If they throw rock twice in a row, for example, there’s a good chance they’ll throw scissors next.”
Others use more psychological tactics. “I like to mess with my opponent’s head,” says UK national champion Charlotte Le Rougetel. “I’ll throw the same thing a few times in a row to make them think I’m predictable, and then switch it up.”
Ultimately, however, it all comes down to a split-second decision. “You can plan and strategize all you want, but in the end you have to trust your instincts,” says 2016 world champion Shotaru Imanishi of Japan.
And that’s what separates the champions from the rest of us. They have the skill, the strategy, and the mental fortitude to make split-second decisions under pressure. As Schneider puts it, “it may seem like just a silly game, but at the highest level, it’s a real sport. And like any sport, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be a world champion.”