High-ranked RL players sound like a broken record. You’ll talk about how you’ve been training hard on Musty Flicks, and they’ll drone on about how you should be practicing the ‘important stuff.’
We’ve all heard it thousands of times, but what exactly is the important stuff?
Well, I bit the bullet and shelled out a hundred bucks for a coaching session with former Rocket League legend, Fireburner. During his days with NRG, he was hailed as the king of the 50/50. Afterward, he became a professional coach for Cloud9 and Version1 – some of the largest Esport orgs to dip their toes in Rocket League.
I don’t know about you, but every time I’m in a party chat and dunk on an opponent, it’s imperative that I announce to the party afterward, “Yeah. I’m Fireburner” as nonchalant as possible.
Choosing Fireburner felt like the natural choice.
There would be no Michael Jordan without a Scottie Pippen to fight through the defense and find an opening. Likewise, JSTN is arguably the most monumental RLCS players to hit the scene, and without Fireburner as his personal Pippen…
Well, there wouldn’t be a “This is Rocket League!” quick chat to spam in pre-tournament lobbies. The meme wouldn’t exist. NRG wouldn’t have become the RLCS legacy it is today. Everyone would pick a different Esport decal to equip to their favorite sweaty Octane preset.
Nowadays, I can be my own legacy. Any time I’m quick to the ball, I can utter the words, “Coach taught me that.”
I can’t pretend to be his personal protégé, by any means. I’ve only played Rocket League with the man for an hour.
I CAN take pride in knowing I learned some tricks from a defensive powerhouse, and one of the best playmakers in Rocket League. Today, I’d like to share those tips – saving you the cost of an expensive coaching session.
There is a direct correlation between a player’s rank and how frequently he powerslides. Conversely, a high-ranked player powerslides for shorter periods of time.
There’s plenty of content about how to air dribble, and there’s content about landing multiple flip resets.
Nobody really talks about how to powerslide efficiently. Probably because it is the equivalent of lying on your bedroom floor and watching paint dry.
But learning to powerslide better could magically boost your Rocket League rank overnight. A pretty bold claim, right?
There’s an unspoken awareness occurring at higher ranks. The key to getting better isn’t in your ability to capitalize on one isolated moment in time where a ceiling shot or Kuxir pinch opportunity appears.
I mean… Scoring a banger trick shot will make the lobby go wild and win a game or two. I don’t want to discredit that feeling of glory.
Feather your handbrake to make turns between 90 to 180 degrees. You’ll preserve more of your prior momentum. Coach didn’t go into the science of it, but I will:
The initial moment of E-brake is more responsive than the moments that follow. You have a higher turn radius. After the first half-second your car slides to preserve momentum, but her turns will suffer.
Powerslides over 90 degrees destroy your momentum in general, and are typically only preferred over half-flips while you’re on the ball or challenging.
Use the handbrake any time you expect your vehicle to land on the ground. Momentum in the air is easily lost when landing. Your car can fly around the stadium in a three-dimensional space…
Grounded cars can only drive like you would expect – in a single direction. To top it all off, there are in-game impact physics that simulate shock absorption. This slows you down.
However, landing with powerslide negates lost momentum. It’s effective. Get into the habit of landing every flip with an active powerslide. Those milliseconds you gain will result in more goals for your team and fewer goals against. It’s that simple.
Here’s a video by CBell that covers more on Powerslides:
You may already have a vague idea about how to fast aerial. Jump twice and you get to the ball faster, right?
No. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
The fast aerial only becomes fast after mastering your trajectory, young rocketeer.
You want to tilt back on your left analog stick before making your first jump, otherwise, you’ve already been beaten to the ball. The entire lobby spams…
Even if nobody jumps for a challenge, without a solid fast aerial you’ve lost time to hit that sweet high-speed angle onto the net.
YouTubers tell you to tilt your car back about 45 degrees. This is slow. Look, SunlessKhan is a pillar to the Rocket League community. The man can play a pretty mean game of car soccer, too.
The faster you gain altitude, the more you can focus the remainder of your aerial on forward momentum, giving you faster touches on the ball. The ideal launch angle for a fast aerial is roughly 60-80 degrees. This takes practice to get accustomed to. That’s okay, it’s what you’re here for, right? Learning the important mechanics to practice.
Once you position your car at the proper angle you can use your second jump. This is where the magic happens. This is also where the scrub-flips happen. Don’t worry. Those dwindle with time.
Remember: you have a solid second and a half to use that extra jump. In rocket league years, that’s a millennium. Don’t panic. Wait until you’ve finished your directional input.
(Small caveat: There are occasions where your car may feel heavy. The car may not want to lift off of the ground. This is because your forward momentum is so powerful that it struggles to gain altitude. It happens when your car is at or near supersonic speed. In these situations, the second jump helps break the momentum early so you can readily use your boost to go higher rather than further.)
Last, but not least: Be sure not to skimp the height of your first jump. It’s easy to forget the first jump has an analog control over height. For some people, this isn’t a big issue, but for wavedash-spamming ground dribblers like myself… It can become an easy habit to make short hops all the time.
Not for recoveries. Not for 50/50’s. Not for hits on the ball.
As a recovery, a frontflip limits your mobility on the field. It’s kind of like the good ol’ triangle theorem that our geometry teachers drilled into our heads at school:
If A+B=C, then how do you explain all of the scuffs in the dirt between sidewalk intersections?
An angled momentum covers more distance than pure forward momentum.
If you can’t speed flip yet, you should at least focus on spamming diagonal flips. Once you do, you’ll gain the added perk of boosting while flipping. You’ll get to max speed much earlier. Don’t forget to powerslide!
Boosting through a diagonal flip doesn’t waste your boost like a frontflip potentially can. If you boost through a frontflip, you’ll wind up with your nose in the dirt, whereas that forward diagonal flip gets more reach.
If all of this seems like rookie stuff to you, I’d say it’s time to start working speed flips and flip canceling. Here’s a brief explanation:
That’s the absolute basics of a flip cancel. To speed flip effectively, these are the two things you’ll need to know:
A speed flip is fundamentally different from the ever-popular half-flip. If you’ve mastered a half-flip, you may note that you cancel your flip late and hold the stick down for the full duration of the flip. In contrast, the speed flip is a very quick cancellation input that you only want to hold in place until your car does a signature forward barrel roll motion.
You’ll probably want visuals for this. Here’s a Fireburner video:
First off, with bad timing, you risk knocking the ball into the ground, making touches easier for the opponents to counter. You aren’t trying to brute force your way through! Play smart, not hard.
Secondly, your car’s greatest hitbox is on its corner. A properly timed diagonal flip (or diagonal flip cancel) will send the ball flying at speeds that are hard to react to. Suddenly, you can place all that focus of not dropping the ball to the ground on something more precise, like hitting the ball with your corner hitbox. You’ll notice better touches immediately.
Fireburner commented on a few other things that were more specific to my playing style. I needed to memorize boost locations.
He complimented my half-flips and ground dribbling, so I get the impression he values those skills quite a bit. It makes sense. Possession and recovery are key.
Remember that, and you’ll rank up. I promise.
I mean… probably.
Although, I wouldn’t necessarily use this article to keep you from hiring a coach, if that was something you were considering.
The experience was unforgettable. If you’ve read this far into my post, odds are that you value this game as much as I do. Maybe next time you’re getting ready to pull the trigger on some juicy new cosmetic, you might contemplate how much more value you would get out of playing with a pro. It doesn’t have to be Fire. It can be Leth. It can be Yukeo. Many great RL YouTubers coach, too.
You could probably learn from a random Diamond coach you found on Fiverr.
There’s merit in hearing (words you may already know) from a guy who literally gets paid to do the thing you’re practicing. Also, it’s easier to point out the weight of your mistakes after you’ve just been busted making them in the replay analysis.
I made a pro smash the ball into our own net…
(Like, a guy who gets paid to play video games for a living.)
He passed the ball back to me while I was sitting near the net. The ball bounced over my head. Straight into our net like a bullet. I laughed so hard. He laughed too. Our comms were busted for a solid 30 seconds because our laughter was too fierce.
It was wholesome.
Overall, I’m going to miss seeing Fireburner in the competitive scene, but you can tell he’s so much happier coaching casuals like me. That brings me to my last tidbit of advice:
Don’t take this game too personally. A loss is a loss, nothing more. In ten minutes, you’ll forget it ever happened. You don’t have to push yourself to your limits.
Rocket League is competitive, sure. It’s also meant to spark joy. If getting demoed grinds your gears, learn to dodge and bite back.
Honestly, this is the best game I’ve ever played. I adore it. It’s fast and thrilling. Even the RL pros have plenty of room for improvement, which is insane.
Just enjoy it responsibly. Hang up a “Live, Laugh, Love” sign if you need to. I won’t judge.
Thank you for reading!