Hello, my aspiring rocketeers! Typically, I coach on-field awareness. Today, I’d like to focus on a far more important type of awareness. Let’s talk about your general mentality while playing Rocket League.
Listen, I get where you’re coming from. Getting out of Platinum ranks in Rocket League is an uphill battle. I was stuck in Plat for the longest time – literally for years. Most of us were. It is an undoubtedly frustrating battle.
Every player on-field is aiming for the most ball touches humanly possible, without affording much thought behind those touches. Sometimes it feels like your teammates were programmed to be heat-seeking missiles – all locked onto the same giant round bouncy grey object. Games can feel like a volleyball simulator. More accurately, it’s like playing a game of catch with your dad, except your dad left for a pack of cigarettes fifteen years ago and you’re actually just playing catch with the cars on the enemy team.
Right? But your frustration doesn’t end there:
Smurfing is very real. It’s not just an issue of facing players who can land triple flip-resets, either. Sometimes you’re paired with a smurf who’s deliberately tanking his rank – so he can boost his trash-talking 10-year-old baby brother. Honestly, that’s 100 times worse than getting clipped on by the opposing team.
We still haven’t touched on the worst problem of all.
It’s hard not to throw a game when you’ve got an abrasive teammate mashing abusive quick chat spam and typing out things like “tm8 trash” at every turn. Sometimes he’ll open fire after 5-10 seconds before he’s even had a chance to see you play. It’s especially frustrating when he’s clueless about his contributions to surrendered goals or his general lack of ability to create smart offensive counter-attacks. Honestly, that’s Platinum in a nutshell.
Every player on the field is making constant mistakes, and they aren’t aware of them in the slightest. Factor in the fact that Plat-players have been playing long enough to make relatively strong touches on the ball – ones that require a lot of speed to get to, and you wind up with a quick game of nerves and easily deflected touches.
Next time you’re facing off against a smurf or a sandbagging freestyler, don’t make yourself a victim. You can whine all you want, but the fact of the matter is that you’re facing off against another human being who’s no more competent than you.
Instead, you need to focus your attention on achieving that skill level yourself. You can do it. It won’t happen overnight, but you already know that training packs and free play will take you a long way. You aren’t a victim. You’ll need to be Johnny McBallControl to rank up eventually, won’t you? Why waste so much energy complaining about when that day comes? You have the power to improve boiling deep within your veins.
Let me level with you, I was carried out of Plat in threes. Real talk. I didn’t force it, either. I didn’t beg my friends or offer to pay anyone. One day I was on a winning streak and blasted up a rank and a half. I posted a picture to my club chat while I was blitzed out and high on the fumes of hype. One of them hopped on and pulled me up another 4 divisions to free me from the Platinum prison once and for all.
Here’s the catch:
Any time I hop in a Plat 3 lobby in Rocket League now, I obliterate y’all. It didn’t take long to do it consistently, either. Nowadays my platinum friends line up begging for carries like I’m an Oprah Winfrey incarnate. Want to know what changed?
Let me approach this from a different angle. I coach Plats a lot. The majority of the time, when I point out an on-field error, they’ll reply with a
“Yeah, yeah. I know that.”
And they’re telling the truth.
Deep down, you’ve already studied every little tidbit of information you need to conquer that hellhole of a rank. The problem is that you make exceptions. You do it because you’re afraid to trust your teammates.
Your teammate might miss the ball. That is a possibility, and it will feel awful when it happens.
When you let that fear manifest itself into a guaranteed mistake coming from yourself, it’ll feel a lot worse. You know what I’m talking about. Rushing toward the ball to clear across the net. Charging in for a pass when you’re the last man back because you see your receiver tailing the teammate preparing to pass the ball. Those “little things” matter.
There will be plenty of opportunities to score in Platinum. I can promise you that. So, what changed for me? Why did I begin to win in Plat lobbies overnight?
I touched the ball less.
Every touch I made had a very distinct intention. I watched everyone else fumble around the field spamming obnoxious quick chats at one another. Sometimes they sent those chats to me. After a solid two minutes of gameplay, everyone on my team shut up and played the game right.
In Platinum – and every other rank, for that matter – you need to prove yourself. You don’t do that by sacking your teammates out of the play because you think you can touch the ball better. You do that by sending rock-solid passes and watching your teammate backflip at it like an idiot. When that happens, you don’t bother him about it.
Keep sending the passes. Eventually, he’ll be prepared for them. Eventually, he’ll score a few. Eventually, the positive vibes on your team will result in less panic-induced plays that result in enemy interceptions.
You’ll touch the ball less, but you’ll touch the ball in more meaningful ways. You’ll break your enemies’ axles. You’ll cut the ball midfield instead of rolling it up the enemy backboard. You’ll be relaxed.
Coaches seldom focus on critiquing your on-field mechanics. You already beat yourself up enough about that, and it’ll take time to improve. What we can do is improve your decision-making. So, yeah, you probably already do know what we’re going to tell you. Maybe it’s time to listen.
If his quick chat behavior bothers you, turn it off. If you want to vent once the match is over, we’ll listen. You’re 100% correct, he’s a terrible person. He’s ruining the game for you and everyone else for the sake of inflating his ego. He probably can’t win any games in his actual rank. Let him continue to develop bad habits he’s re-learning. That isn’t your problem.
Next time you face off against a smurf, try to focus on his car’s body language. He isn’t rushing to do anything. You can read it as plain as day, he’s relaxed. He’s playing patiently. He doesn’t squabble around forcing impossible shots. Instead, he adapts. He plays with fluidity. He plays like water.
Spend more time anticipating his shots. You can learn a lot of valuable reads here. When he rolls the ball up the wall for an air dribble, drive up your backboard and prepare for an interception. When he pulls ahead of a rolling ball to prepare a cut for a ground dribble, slam yourself into his car. Demo him like crazy. Make his life miserable. When you do, he’ll throw the game to try and pick on someone a little worse than you.
It’s not ideal, but you’ve just proven you’re too good of a player to appear in some smurf’s cute little YouTube montage.
Not all training is created equally. If you’re always setting up air dribbles in free play, it’s time to stop. If you’ve never attempted an air dribble in your life, it’s time to start.
You need to practice the things that make you feel uncomfortable.
Can’t powerslide well enough to score a nasty hook shot? Guess what? You need to learn to. Can’t hit the ball hard enough to set up double taps? I bet you can guess what I’m about to say.
Just do it.
Ball control is everything. A solid dribble will make your opponents look like idiots in the replay. Cutting the ball center for a teammate will result in more goals scored. Landing multiple touches from off of the wall will often be enough to take an opponent out of the play.
Most importantly, practice the less impressive stuff.
If you can’t score a goal from every angle on the field 100% of the time, you still need to practice it. Focus less on whether or not it goes in. Focus more on whether you land a nice top-shelf goal that’s difficult to save. Focus more on the speed of the goal. If that seems impossible, do some bounce dribbles to build forward momentum.
Jump for your rebounds earlier. Sure, there’s a sweet spot you know you can hit consistently, but you won’t always have the time to wait for that angle. Push yourself. Double jump your aerials. Tilt your analog stick back before you jump. Pinch the ball into the net while it’s still on the post.
I’ll say it again: push yourself. That’s what those annoying smurfs did. It paid off for them, too.
Your reads will improve. Your mechanics will improve. Your awareness will improve.
Some days I completely avoid online matches. I’ll spend about half an hour training redirects off of the enemy backboard or doing impractical wavedash ceiling pinches, then I’ll sign off. It’s more fun, more rewarding, and ultimately what separates the men from the boys on-field.
You sweet, summer child. You may think you have a handle on your rotations, but the battle has only just begun.
In Platinum, you get away with some pretty loose rotations because there aren’t very many threatening shots inbound. You don’t need to constantly pressure the opponents because they’ll often throw the ball away of their own volition.
Sometimes Platinum rotations feel like teammates exiting the play once they’ve run out of boost, but there will be times in higher-level lobbies where you’ll have to act without that boost.
If you’re bickering about teammate rotations, it is a sign that your rotations need improvement as well. If you notice a teammate retreating for a boost pad at the same time as you, that’s your sign to get back in the play. If you notice a teammate diving for a ball you already jumped for, you need to spend less time racing him to it and more time predicting the outcome.
Because rotation isn’t some guidebook with rules set in stone. Rotation is fluidity. We do it to preserve our on-field momentum, not to share boost pads or take turns hitting the ball. Rotation wasn’t invented as a science of deciding which teammate to blame – every player on the team who surrendered a goal was guilty. You all made a mistake at one point or another, otherwise, the situation wouldn’t have arrived.
There are forgivable mistakes, like losing a 50/50. Missing an open net is forgivable, too. Charging up to double-commit with your teammate after he makes a mistake? Less forgivable. Hollering at your teammate once he made that mistake? Unforgivable. I mean it. Why on Earth would you expect him to help you win a game after you laid that “holier than thou,” mentality on him?
You could have adjusted your rotation, too.
You’re both in your rank for a reason. Those reasons may be different, but I promise you no matchmaking bug or omniscient outside force is keeping you there. If it isn’t poor mechanics or rotation, it’s your attitude… and that’s worse. A nasty attitude will affect your mechanics and your rotation.
Flip the in-game music back on. Jam out to some Monstercat. Equip a topper. Cheer into the mic when you score a goal. Who cares what rank you are? You’re getting better every day.
That’s the mindset you’ll need to get out of Platinum.
Ranking up with mechanical skill is the equivalent of trying to hit a screw with a hammer. Sure, it’ll work. You’re also pressuring yourself into working too hard to yield results.
I bet you CAN hit an upside-down aerial with low momentum after charging to the front post and falling victim to a hook shot… but why would you want to?
The enemy hardly had to work for that hook shot at all. You’ve also drained your boost reservoir and that touch you just made didn’t have a whole lot of power. Let’s not forget you’re out of the play now. If you would have just hung out on the back post, you wouldn’t have to feel like a member of The Avengers to get out of this situation.
Mechanics take time to develop. Sure, you should be developing them as much as you can. Having said that, speed flips and flip resets won’t get you out of your rank on their own. You need to be strengthening your awareness.
Otherwise, you’re splitting firewood from an unnatural angle. You’re trying to hit a nail with a screwdriver. You’re flipping a light switch to open your garage door. You get the point. Having the right tools for the job makes all the difference.
All of the symptoms I’ve described here are clear signs of burnout.
Rocket League is fun, but it isn’t a lifestyle. Sure, you’ve gotta play a lot to improve, but what’s the rush? Go out on a date. Take a walk in the park. Get some sunshine, bro. Cook yourself a nice meal. Play a different game.
I started ranking up much faster once I decreased my overall playtime to 5-10 hours a week. Time spent became quality over quantity. Rocket League is one of those games that teeters on the path to Video Game addiction. Seriously, give yourself a good long look in the mirror and make sure you’re still healthy.
How well do you expect a malnourished brain to function? What about strained eyes? How many goals do you expect to score when you’re angry?
Chill for a bit. Live life, bro. Trust me, you’ll come back a stronger human being. You’ll overcome the brimstone volley of quick chat raining from the left-hand corner of your screen. You’ll overcome the Platinum ranks before you know it