what to do in free play

Free play in Rocket League is the place where Champions are made. Even though the benefits of free play practice are common knowledge yet beginners like me tend to avoid free play like a plague. The reason for this is simple. Everyone tells me to go grind free play, but no one tells me what to do in free play.

So I emailed a much-experienced player who is also a coach and who was willing to help me for free. Here is the answer that he gave me.

Just going fast and hitting the ball hard over and over again in free play is a simple yet underrated practice that players at all ranks and levels of skill can do to improve at the game exponentially.

That’s it? Yes! So simple, it is almost hard to believe. 

free play practice menu in game

Dog Mode in Free Play

It’s well and good to practice those fancy-schmancy moves and grind training packs. But in addition to all that, this is about the core elements of practice. Just go fast and hit the ball. Or as I like to call it GET IN DOG MODE.

According to my new rocket league friend/coach, when new players ask for just one practice routine that they can incorporate into their daily playtime, the recommendation from most coaches is often just going fast and hitting the ball hard in free play. 

Ok, let’s agree that it works and everyone should do it to practice or warm-up before games. But then two more questions arise. Why does it work and how does it work? So I emailed my coach friend back. And he promptly replied but also gave me 5 rules to abide by while practicing.

5 Rules for Go Fast Hit Hard

Rule 1: Always go fast.
Rule 2: Hit the ball hard.
Rule 3: Don’t wait.
Rule 4: Don’t think.
Rule 5: No unlimited boost.

I’m going to elaborate on all 5 rules one by one. And once I’m done, the why and the how should make itself clear – hopefully.

Rule 1: Always go fast.

This means you have to try and always be at supersonic speed – yes that is when you see those trails near the rear tires of your car. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do aerials. Just go fast, whether it is on the ground or walls or in the air. Don’t let your capability or experience come in the way.

Rule 2: Hit the ball hard. 

Try to hit the ball with power and preferably from the nose or front edges of your car. It doesn’t matter if you fail. Just keep trying without stopping.

Rule 3: Don’t wait.

You are not allowed to stop, halt or take a breather even for a second. 

Don’t think you’ll hit the ball better after it deflects off the wall. Chase the ball – yes you heard that right. Do ball chase. Throw yourself in uncomfortable situations and still keep trying to go fast and hit hard. This is how the improvement in your game happens.

Rule 4: Don’t think.

Do yourself a favor and turn off your brain. For this practice, you don’t have to think at all. A lot of you suck because you overthink. Practice thinking less and doing more. Simply ball chase, go fast, hit hard, repeat. 

During this practice, there is no need for any analysis. Feel free to play some music you enjoy or an audiobook or podcast you wish to listen to while you do this. Shut off your brain. You don’t have to consciously try to include any mechanics.

If you spend time learning mechanics apart from this practice session, you will notice that those mechanics will automatically begin showing up in this practice. But remember, you don’t have to deliberately try them.

Rule 5: No unlimited boost.

Ok, to be honest, this final rule is arguable and the practice can be done either way – with or without unlimited boost. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. In the beginning, I used to only practice with unlimited boost. 

But then, because of that, I found that I had become very uneconomical and wasteful with my boost and this was impacting my games. I wanted the practice to be realistic and incorporate boost management and collection into it. So now I do it without unlimited boost.

disabled unlimited boost in menu

The advantage is that I am forced to learn to follow pads or keep an eye for the nearest big boost capsule while trying to conserve and not waste my boost. 

For instance, I discovered that if you are driving on the ground and you hit boost to go supersonic, then once you are supersonic, you no longer need to keep pressing boost unless you do something to lose that momentum (like making a hard turn or braking).

I was ashamed to already have over a hundred hours of gaming and not know this, nevertheless, once I found out and started wasting less boost, it made a huge difference in my game.

But yea, if you disagree or dislike limited boost then just use unlimited boost in your practice.

One drill to rule them all

I hope that why and how this drill works to make you better at the game is clear now. With a single, simple routine that doesn’t even require you to think, you learn to practice

  • Getting out of your comfort zone
  • Striking the ball with power
  • Learning to toggle out of ball cam
  • Boost management

So to sum it all up, the essence of this practice is to try to go fast and hit the ball hard regardless of the situation. By doing it over and over again, we build the confidence and muscle memory to be able to do it without thinking in actual games.

By ball chasing and throwing ourselves in uncomfortable situations, we recreate real game-like situations better than by thinking, waiting, and planning our shots.

Having said that, I want to clarify that these rules are not for games. In your games, don’t ball chase or jump in to take all shots. Or not think at all. These rules are ONLY for this type of free play practice.

Disabling Goal Reset

The right way of doing this practice is with disabled goal reset in free play. Currently, this is possible only on PC and with bakkesmod. For console players, this is not an option. The closest thing Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch players can do is to create a custom game with no bots and with disabled goal reset mutator setting and unlimited score mutator setting. 

disbaled goal reset custom game on console

This disables just the animation and the countdown. The ball still resets to center though. Another option for those on console is to just do this in free play but try to not let the ball in the goal. Adding this extra rule will hone your last-minute defender skills.

A final piece of advice. I know the game has stats of playtime but I log my DOG MODE free play practice time individually using the stopwatch on my phone. This is because I want to be able to correlate the improvement in my rank to my DOG MODE free play practice.

Screw Silver, Platinum, Grand Champion, etc. For me, the real ranks and player skill is visible based on how many thousand hours of DOG MODE free play practice one has.

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