My 4 rules for correct practice.
- Playing games is NOT practice. For practice, allot extra time before playing online matches.
- Practice has to be regular. Preferably daily. If you play less often then practice at least as often as you play.
- Practice has to deliberately be directed towards 3 things – learning new skills or mechanics, improving what you’ve already learned, and unlearning incorrect habits.
- The time spent practicing has to be equal to or greater than the time spent playing matches. The reason for this is simple – if I spend more time every day doing the wrong things then I will only get better at doing things wrong. I need to spend at least half my time doing the right things, for me to start doing things right.
Rule 4 needs some elaboration. What if say, on a Sunday, I had all day to play. Then would I practice for the first half of the day and play for the next half? No! The reward I give myself for one hour of practice is one hour of play. After that I analyze the games I played, then I take a break and repeat.Before writing this post, I spent 6 hours watching my replays and made a list of things I wanted to focus on.
Utilising Space Repetitions[Practice -> Play -> Analyse] [Break] [Repeat]I think that by splitting my time into chunks like this and repeating my sessions I might progress faster – in fact, I’m sort of betting on it. If you want to know why I think so, then spend some time reading about “spaced repetitions” and how they aid learning.Now at this point, some of you may be wondering “Pre-games practice is fine, but what’s the deal with post-games analysis. Ugh it sounds so boring!“. I get it. But understanding what practice does is just one part of the puzzle. Figuring out what I should spend my time practicing is the crucial part. Therefore for me, analysis is non-negotiable.The only way I can identify what to practice is by watching my replays. It might seem like something trivial that could be skipped, but I assure you it is not. Save and watch ALL your replays if you want to get better at the game.Replay analysis will help me objectively pinpoint specific areas where I must improve. And this will work at all levels and all ranks, not just for beginners like me.
- I want to be able to JUST hit the ball. Then with time, be able to strike the ball with power and in the right direction.
- I want to be able to effectively defend goals for my team. Then with time, clear the ball far and away from our side.
- I want to be able to step up and score goals when needed.
- I want to learn to understand rotations. I need to develop basic awareness of the ball, my teammates, and the opponents to be able to predict how the play will progress, where the ball will likely go, etc.
- I have to stop running out of boost when I most need it.
- I want to be able to perform very basic aerials and slightly higher jumps mainly to defend against aerial shots.
- To not get nervous and screw up when the ball is in my possession. Especially while trying to score goals.
Two ways of training.How training packs work in rocket league is obvious. What’s not obvious is that there are two distinct ways of using them. The first way is simple. If you miss a shot you hit repeat, and you keep doing that until you are happy. Henceforth in this essay, I’m going to call this “repeatable training”.The other way is without repeating shots. For each shot, you have only one chance – exactly like how it is in actual games. If you miss, you miss. There’s not a thing you can do about it except watch the replay of your whiffing. Let’s call this “non-repeatable training”.Non-repeatable training gives you the option to keep scores. That way you can log them in a sheet and track your progress between sessions, days, weeks, etc. Repeatable training forces you to quickly try many ways till you find the right way of taking a shot, or one you are satisfied with.In my practice, I plan to use both.
PracticeHere’s my beginner practice routine. If you have less than a hundred hours of gameplay, feel free to use this. If you don’t like it or are at a different skill level, then just follow along to understand the thought process here so you can make your practice routine.
- 5 mins: Basic Tutorial
- 5 mins: Advanced Tutorial
- 5 mins: Striker Training (Non-repeatable) [Rookie -> Pro -> All-Star]
- 5 mins: Goalie Training (Non-repeatable) [Rookie -> Pro -> All-Star]
- 5 mins: Aerial Training (Non-repeatable) [Rookie -> Pro -> All-Star]
- 10 mins: Free Play: Hitting the ball around
- 5 mins: Free Play: Ground dribbles
- 10 mins: Custom Training Pack (Repeatable)
- 5 mins: Free Play: Car control
- 5 mins: Free Play: Boost management & ball cam toggling
PlayThere is only one rule here – extra modes like rumble, dropshot, hoops, or snow day don’t count. I play a lot of unranked 3s, 4s, and ranked 3s. You can play what you like – ranked or unranked 1s, 2s, or 3s.I just have to remember to save all replays. With time, they will start taking up a lot of space but they can all be deleted once a week.
AnalysisThis needs no explaining. I’ll simply watch my replays and try to make note of the mistakes I make during games. If a pattern of the most commonly repeated mistakes emerges, then I’ll tweak my practice to prioritize correcting those mistakes first.While watching replays, I’ll also be keeping an eye on how opponents and teammates play to try and learn from players better than myself. This should help with ball & player awareness.
Watching other’s gamesI’ll also be watching gameplays of experts and pro players to slowly start learning different approaches and play styles. The attempt will be to see how other players deal with the same problems that I face in-game like backboard clears, 50-50s, boost management, etc.
Closing ThoughtsLike all new players, when I started playing the game, I was terrible at it. I would run all around the field chasing the ball, desperate to make contact with it – many times scoring own goals or accidentally defending the opponent’s goals. I sucked so much it was embarrassing.I’ve already started following the above-mentioned process of training and yes I’m starting to see significant improvement in my game. If you decide to use this then I’d appreciate it if you come back and leave a comment to tell me what you feel about this routine. What worked? What didn’t work? What did you change?Lastly, I’m also watching a lot of my replays and I’m noticing that there are so many other things that players at my level do (myself included) that I decided to make an additional list of rules to keep in mind. If you are a beginner, please try and follow these rules too. It will improve the quality of games for everyone significantly.
Rules for beginners
- Wait for the ball to come to you.
- Pass the damn ball. Don’t try to be a hero all the time – teammates are your friends.
- Learn to rotate and fill gaps in the field. Don’t leave your net open.
- Don’t blame your teammates for being inadequate. If they genuinely suck, then it’s your opportunity to rise to the occasion and learn to get better.
- Be nice to both teammates and opponents. Try not to be an asshole because that attitude will certainly get in the way of your improvement in the long run.
- Remind yourself that this is a game. So the main objective is to have fun.