Also having a general idea of what to do in what situations ahead of time helps immensely.
A good little thought game is to have some of your friends give you random lists of 5 or 6 ships and for you to mentally figure out a target order as fast as you can.
Also having a good idea in your head about relative strengths of groups will save you a lot of pain and death. Getting a rough number of enemies and their ship types, measuring it against your fleet, and knowing if you can have a good fight, die horribly, or wipe the floor with them, will be very useful.
As you get to know your people better you'll start to know if you can push those odds up or down in either direction and make better decisions to fight or not.
The other super important thing, at least once the ships start getting bigger and more tanky for you, is making judgments on if enemy tanks are breaking, going to break, or is it time to switch targets. Your most valuable resource is always TIME. If you spend 30 seconds shooting the most tanky enemy ship and it's getting reps and you get nowhere, you are wasting your time and your people are dying. You have to be able to kind of quickly figure out if you are shooting the wrong thing and if there is a better thing to shoot.
Many many fights that I've won have just been due to bad target calling by the badguys, going after big, tanky, or flashy ships instead of killing things and reducing incoming damage.
Many fights I've lost have been for the same reason.