Air Roll Shots are one of the most (if not the most) versatile shots in Rocket League. It is one of those shots that when mastered, opens up a world of possibilities and turns the game around in seconds, quickly turning defense to offense and creating opportunities for shots at net in the unlikeliest of scenarios.
In this essay, I’m going to teach you how these shots work, why you must learn how to hit them and where to best use them to stun your opponents.
What are Air Roll Shots?
In an Air Roll Shot, the player tilts the front corner of their car up using air roll and then dodges diagonally into the ball. The corner that is tilted up is the corner that comes in contact with the ball. Air roll shots are great for balls that are on a low or medium-high bounce.
The main principle behind air roll shots is maximizing shot power without compromising accuracy.
The reason we tilt our car is to get more precision and power into the shot which otherwise would not have been possible. The idea is that some points of the car’s hitbox are better at transferring power and momentum to the ball so you should try and make contact at those points. The roof, the wheels are meh. The nose is good. But the front corners are the best.
Generally, beginners find learning air roll shots hard because it requires getting used to placing your car mid-air in atypical orientations, especially when compared to something simple like a hook shot. While advanced players who are familiar with aerials and air rolling find air roll shots easy. In either case, however, perfection only comes with deliberate practice.
When & Why to use Air Roll Shots?
The biggest advantage of air roll shots is being able to generate power with accuracy when both power and accuracy are not directly available to you.
To understand when and why it’s best to use these shots, first, let’s look at the 4 things that are critically important for shots in Rocket League.
- Speed of Car
- Angle of Approach
- Which part of the Ball is hit
- Which part of the Car’s hitbox hits the ball
1 & 2 directly translate into the power that you bring into a shot. But when 1 and 2 are not favorable or not present at all – like say when trying to shoot at the opponent’s net at a difficult angle from the corner – then air roll allows you to adjust 3 and 4 in such a way that you make up for the absence of 1 & 2 while still being able to get the benefits of 1 & 2.
Common situations where air roll shots can be used:
- Shooting at the net at odd angles from corners.
- Immediately converting a tight pass to a shot at the net.
- Backboard rebound shots at goal. Also, rebound clears away from goal.
- Any time the ball is near the net and you must adjust quickly to shoot.
As you can see the common denominator in all four situations is sudden opportunity to act, but no preparation in advance. This is a typical characteristic of fast game speed that becomes more and more common in higher-ranked games.
Hitbox, Ball & Power Transfer
The physics in rocket league is all about the interactions between car and ball.
We learned how air roll shots let you hit the ball at angles that otherwise wouldn’t be possible without sacrificing power. This to me, makes it similar to the infamous 1-inch punch by Bruce Lee. I often refer to air roll shots as the 1-inch punches of Rocket League.
In my mind, no other technique lets you generate as much power in such a short time, distance, and that too with a fairly low amount boost. Just like the 1-inch punch is as much about technique as it is about power, so is the air roll shot.
Let’s look a little into what makes this shot so lethal and unstoppable at close range. In Rocket League, generating hits with maximum power requires two conditions to be met:
- The Center of mass of the car and ball must be aligned.
- The ball must be hit at its center with the nose of the car.
The problem is this is not always easy to recreate in the game, so players have to adapt and find alternate ways of shooting with power. That’s where hitbox corners come into the picture.
The corners are more or less the same distance from the car’s center of mass as the flat nose but corners being corners (thanks to geometry), they have more versatility than the nose.
Combine that with the fact that at low and medium speeds, diagonal flips increase the car’s speed more than straight flips and you have all the logic behind air roll shots that you need to understand.
Maximizing power to shots is whole Science in itself. If you want to learn more about it or Rocket League Physics in general, here is an interesting video by Rocket Science on the subject.
Another unmissable fact about most air roll shots is that the ball is always hit at its lower half, and at a spot opposite to where you want the ball to travel. I find this to be a very useful pre-visualization technique for when I practice. No matter how tight the angle and the approach, there is always a point in the lower half of the ball, which if correctly struck with the corner of the car will send the ball booming in that direction.
How to do Air Roll Shots
That’s enough with the theory, now let’s get down to execution. Usually, air roll shots are angled shots that require you to adjust your approach using air roll before hitting the ball. Therefore approach and line-up is the hardest skill to master when learning these type of shots.
For your ease, I’ve made a very simple step-by-step progression of how to perform an air roll shot starting from scratch. The progression makes learning these shots so easy that I recommend even lower ranks like bronze and silver to give it a try because unlike something fancy like pre-flips, these shots are incredibly advantageous early on.
I learned air roll shots by using a training pack called Strength and Accuracy by Vince (code in the last section). However, you can use this progression with any training pack of your choice.
Step-by-step air roll shots progression, adding one component at a time
Step 1: Adjusting initial direction and driving towards the ball
Step 2: Step 1 + Single Jump to make contact with the ball
Step 3: Steps 1-2 + Boost and drive towards the ball
Step 4: Steps 1-3 + Turn towards ball by 45 degrees
Step 5: Steps 1-4 + Tilt-back 45 degrees using free air roll & left analog stick
Step 6: Keep repeating Steps 1-5 until you perfectly start opening up the corner of the car and making contact with the ball at the desired point.
Step 7: Add diagonal dodge or front dodge as needed.
Practice this over and over again until you get to a point where you can’t miss even a single air roll shot in your training pack.
Practice & Training Pack Codes
Despite how challenging they are to learn, air roll shots are very commonly used. This is the single biggest evidence of how powerful they are. All the time and effort required to learn and perfect these shots pay off at all ranks.
You can practice getting better at these types of shots both in free play and using custom training packs. The ideal way to practice in free play is using the free play ball control feature that launches the ball upwards using your d-pad.
Here are some codes to relevant training packs:
Reddit User Lumision’s Training Pack Code: 9FEF-E7F6-9A76-5CB4
Yeeza’s Air Roll Shots Training Pack Code: 84D2-072D-80CF-7D0D
Wayprotein’s Ground Air Roll Shots Code: B4EB-C56A-BA9D-5300
Vince Strength Accuracy Pack Code: 6CF3-4C0B-32B4-1AC7
YouTube user Kevpert also has a brilliant custom training pack for PC users with bakkesmod called Long & Air Roll Shots. The pack has 50 shots and recreates game-like variable conditions within training. Unfortunately, this only works on PC and with bakkesmod.
Kevpert’s Training Pack Code: FC42-A3E1-A202-884A
A final word of advice is to try to avoid making contact with the wheel or the car’s underbelly as that will produce weaker hits compared to an accurate scoop from the corner of the bumper of your car.
Also remember that hitbox placebo is a real problem in this game, and everything you see is not what’s happening. Getting good at Rocket League is as much a matter of unlearning some of our brain’s default modes as much as it is about getting used to a specific car/hitbox type with loads of grinding and practice.
So if you are a beginner, try to avoid learning air roll shots with something like say, the scarab. Instead, use any car that is shaped more identically to its hitbox like a Fennec. Or simply use a standard octane. A few thousand hours later, the hitbox won’t matter much and all the skills you pick up will translate to other vehicles as well.
Now, go practice hitting some air roll shots.