Secret Rocket League Mechanics cover photo. Photo features an orange octane with cobalt interstellar BMD and orange Jak'd Obverse wheels. Photo also features Burnt Sienna Flamethrower boost and a pink fissure trail.

15 Hidden RL Mechanics That Might Break Your Brain

Despite its age, Rocket League still buries a handful of secret mechanics.

Sure, we’ve all learned about the infinite flip timer from falling off a surface. And even my grandmother could type up a guide about flip cancels or wavedashes.

Today, I’m talking about subtle stuff. Rarely known facts. I’m covering finer details that promise a competitive edge just for acknowledging their existence.

Sounds good, right? 

I owe a massive shoutout to RL’s resident data miner, HalfwayDead. He’s the host of the Rocket Science YouTube channel and a fellow blogger. He’s had Psyonix devs on speed dial to help patch out bugs in the past. Seriously, if this post grabs you, check out his work. He’s an irreplaceable figure in our community.

Anyway, I won’t hold you hostage with a fatty intro. Let’s dive into Rocket League’s top 15 hidden mechanics!

Directional air roll is an analog input.

Octane tornado spins elegantly through the skies with an adjustable Directional Air Roll input.

Binding analog buttons make “Air Roll Left” and “Air Roll Right” more dynamic. You can bind ARL/ARR to your back triggers (L2 and R2 on PS controllers) or the right analog stick.

For the longest time, an RLCS pro named Gimmick bound his directional air rolls (DAR) to his forward and reverse triggers without anyone questioning his decision. He named himself Gimmick, after all.

We assumed he was just an extra twirly boy who liked spinning for every aerial.

But then Zen stepped into the EU scene with matching bindings. The difference? Many consider Zen the best mechanical RL player in the world.

Eversax stepped on board. Fairy Peak boarded the ship. Forky joined the fray. Pros around the world shifted their bindings.

Analog air roll evolved into an overnight craze.

DAR speeds are adjustable. The more pressure you apply to the trigger, the faster you’ll spin. 

This is huge. Unlike standard air roll, DAR gives you easy access to Yaw, Pitch, and Roll micro-adjustments.

Between analog air roll, boost feathering, and an adjustable tornado spin granted by your left analog stick, Rocket League’s aerial car control reigns as the undisputed king.

Give it a try!

Your supersonic trail is not max speed.

racing full speed vs. supersonic infographic. Vehicle pictured on the left released boost at supersonic, and the vehicle on the right held boost throughout the race. The car that boosted throughout pulled nearly two full car lengths ahead.

Here comes the first fact I snatched from Rocket Science. His max speed video dates back to 2018, but the info still surprises players daily. HalfwayDead dispelled major RL myths. 

  • First, he proves that supersonic speed is not Rocket League’s speed cap. 
  • Second, he proves that you don’t need to cook an endless stream of boost to maintain top speed. 
  • Third, you cannot break the max speed cap in Rocket League. Bumps, dodges, and wavedashes are all futile.

The third point creates intriguing physics. In Rocket League, gravity pulls your car less if you have more momentum. Gravity clocks at a force of 650 unreal units (uu). But when you reach the max speed of 2300uu, gravitational force reduces to about 626uu. The effect grows stronger the longer you fall. And it also affects the ball.

Anyway, let’s talk about top speed in RL:

You reach supersonic at 2,200uu. That equates to 79kph (or 49mph.) You’ll notice your trail appears and your field of view cranks out an extra 5 degrees. It’s also enough speed to demo.

But your top speed in RL is 2,300uu. That’s roughly 83kph or (51mph.) 

That’s a 4.5% hidden increase in speed – bearing no visual or audio indicators. So, what tricks can we use to assure ourselves we’re holding max speed?

Text: "This visual bug where the trail clips through the boost provides a surprisingly solid visual indicator of how long it takes to reach max speed from supersonic in RL."
  • To achieve true max speed, hold your boost an additional 1/10th of a second after your trail appears. The minimum boost input lasts 30 frames, making any further boost reduction impossible.
  • Driving forward doesn’t reduce your speed.
  • Powersliding doesn’t reduce your speed.
  • Remember that turning reduces your speed. So for wide turns, you’ll need to factor in small boost spurts at incremental values.

Assuming your turn radius is set to default, these are the boost gaps to fill, sorted by each hitbox:

  • Breakout – Depletes every 5 seconds (24/120 ticks)
  • Octane – Depletes every 4.6 seconds (26/120 ticks)
  • Dominus – Depletes every 4.4 seconds (27/120 ticks)

I cover more about turning radii in my RL vehicle hitboxes guide.

Flips negate gravity.

Text: "Note the boost trail behind this Octane and the height throughout the flip motion lines. No verticality is lost despite flipping downward."

Have you ever flipped while plummeting toward the ball and whiffed?

Of course, you have. Because it’s counter-intuitive that flipping would cause you to hover in some cross-dimensional rift that’s unaffected by gravity. But that’s how it is. Welcome to the wonderful sci-fi, vaporwave-adoring world of Rocket League.

After flipping, your car is only subjected to normal vertical momentum for 0.15 seconds. From there, your vertical speed reduces by 35% per frame tick.

A dodge lasts for 0.65 seconds. That means, for half a second, your RL car is floating aimlessly through space. Here’s your sauce.

The random hover enables stall mechanics. And stall mechanics enable players to chain multiple flip resets.

You learn to love it.

Your flip timer expires in relation to releasing your initial jump.

An action shot of the starting flip animation in Rocket League. Tags: Cool anodized octane preset, Cool rocket league designs, clean octane

I hear players spout a myriad of random numbers regarding their second jump timer. They’re also complaining about their flip magically disappearing after hopping off a wall.

After a max height jump, your flip timer expires after precisely 1.45 seconds. Not one and a half, not two. This is the burning question that birthed the Rocket Science channel. However, after a short hop, your flip timer expires after 1.25 seconds.

You probably want to drill the big hop to tidy up your fast aerials.

Find a metronome app and set it to 41BPM. Each click tells you how long your flip lasts. Drill it. Commit it to memory. Or ignore my advice and crawl through internet forums bickering about how you’re hardstuck plat and can’t pinpoint why.

Flip types have no impact on the direction of the ball.

Rocket League car flip meme.
Flipping any direction in this play would be bad. Just an honest FYI.

A front flip can dunk a ball downward, since the nose of your car dips…

But did you know a diagonal flip sends the ball in the exact same direction without risking a downward nose? Side flips work, too. During my coaching session with Fireburner, he claimed that pros NEVER front flip.

Dodge direction causes no inherent change to your touches. If anything, believing otherwise increases your whiff rate. It’s time to lay the old legends to rest.

Your touch is wholly dependent on:

    1. Your speed.
    2. The location your car makes contact from.
    3. The amount of mass you lunge into the ball. 

You can flip cancel to chip the ball with a different region on your car, sure. You can also air roll before dodging to exert more mass into the ball. 

But a side flip will not inherently hit the ball more sideways than another flip. Never.

Directional air roll inputs convert front and back flips into easy diagonal flips.

Before hopping off the subject of flips, I want to point out a trick many high-ranked players know, but forget to coach:

You can sprinkle air rolls into your flips and the game reads a directional input. The most common use for this is adding angle variance to your half flips. But things like the JZR/Boomer flick become eons more consistent with DAR as our sideways input angle. All the movements in your left thumb are now cardinal.

Work smart, not hard!

This knowledge can help tidy up your speed flips on your weak side. It’s a game-changer for cross-field powershots, too.

Wheels absorb impact but don't apply pressure.

Pixel perfect flip reset redirect.

Ever wonder why wheel touches in Rocket League feel so delicate?

It’s because you aren’t applying any pressure to the ball until the bottom of your hitbox collides into it.

But here comes the kicker:

Your wheels still behave like physical entities. When they smash into objects, you’ll still feel the recoil. When you drive and turn, nothing abnormal takes place.

When you latch your wheels onto the ball, it’s slowing your momentum for a prolonged period of time before you can reciprocate.

This is why players who coach flip resets often warn you not to accelerate while under the ball. It’s why you sometimes pick up credit for wheel shots that bear 0 influence on the ball. It’s also why you’ll occasionally take a random nose dive during an air dribble that contacts your front wheel.

Your wheels grip the air.

Text: "This photo was taken roughly a half-second after jumping with no momentum with "air acceleration," When jumping, the back passenger wheel was resting on the textured blue goal line marker. Tags: Black octane, shisa decal, black sterns, Rocket League hidden mechanic tutorial.

If your air dribbles suck, it could be because you throttle aimlessly through the skies.

When you gas your wheels in Rocket League, they push you forward – whether there’s ground beneath them or not. In mid-air, you’ll pull a force of 66uu per second squared. That’s 6% of the power of boost.

Reverse works, too. But the forces of reverse are even less impactful.

Boosting automatically engages your “air throttle.”

It’s subtle enough to miss without testing, but idly throttling in mid-air influences the distance you cover. And it comes with no drawbacks like resource management.

Air throttle is the reason some players can fast aerial into a 4-wheel ceiling landing with 41 boost while most players can’t. It’s the reason some players comfortably soar above the crossbar with 12 boost while most crash and burn.

Air throttle becomes a huge boon to your boost management and game speed once you acknowledge it. And easing off throttle in mid-air could be the difference between pixel perfect car control and a messy whiff.

Knowledge is power! Or in this case… an extra 6% speed buff.

MMR overlaps between ranks in Rocket League.

Saffron Dune Racer decal in Salty Shores stadium. Dribbler performs a 180 wavedash cancel in mid chain before prepping up a wall musty.

We have something called a “Division 1 Buffer.”

If you’re in division 4 of a rank, your MMR overlaps players in the rank above until you meet a hard point threshold. That’s when you officially earn your new rank symbol.

But there’s more to it. “Higher ranked” players you face off against are technically in the same MMR bracket. They’re in danger of losing their rank. But they’ll need to fall below a hard point threshold to de-rank.

Division 1 and Division 4 share significant overlap. 

I’ll pull an example valid in a 2’s or 3’s playlist: 

The Grand Champ 1 drop threshold resides at 1,560 – but to enter Grand Champ 2 you need to accumulate a score of 1,575.

That ‘in-between’ space is like Schrodinger’s Secret Limbo Rank. You’re technically GC1 and GC2. 

Psyonix does this to help you hold a rank after climbing in. It’s a 2-4 game safety net that helps keep you sane when experiencing fresh peak jitters.

I’ll drop lists of RL rank distribution paired with their respective entry/exit cusps:

Note that different playlists have varying thresholds to help center the balance of rank distribution. 

Playing more comp matches makes it harder to move ranks.

An aerial photo taken from Salty Shores (Night) Rocket League map. Secret Rocket League mechanics.

Let’s clear up confusion about “Season Resets.”

There hasn’t been a hard rank reset since the original season 3. That was June 20th of 2016. Since then, at the start of every season, your “Unranked” symbol is a placeholder. Your previous season’s rank never vanishes.

We have soft resets.

Players above Champ 3 Div 1 drop to a matchmaker rating (MMR) of 1380. That’s high C2 in comp 2’s and 3’s. Everyone else holds their precise rank.

A hidden “Sigma Rating” determines your rank fluidity.

New seasons reset your sigma value. That heightens the amount of MMR you gain or lose per match. The Sigma Rating gradually increases at intervals of 0.5 after each completed match. It caps out at 3.5, leading to incremental gains and losses of 6-12 MMR, depending on rank disparity within matchups. 

As a rule of thumb, If you’re ranked higher than opponents, you’ll gain less MMR from a win and lose more for a loss, and vice versa.

New accounts stabilize slower. While I don’t know the precise measurements for fresh account Sigma ratings, I’d estimate it starts at a negative value and climbs about 0.2 units per match. Even still, new players without losses in their first few matches gravitate toward the most populated ranks, which suggests another variable is involved.

Of course, creating a new account to study the ranking system would break RL’s terms of service. Only Psyonix could verify the specifics without shattering rules. Still, it’s worth mentioning, in case your new friends are breezing through the ranks you clawed through like a dog in a ditch.

Directional air roll negates collision mechanics.

White octane with purple dune racer decal uses directional air roll to reduce recoil and preserve possession during an air dribble.

If you’re wondering why your double taps and ground-to-air dribbles resemble hot garbage, consider this:

The ball has recoil. You’ve probably noticed that boosting during a ball touch can help keep your car aligned, but you don’t always want to hit the ball hard or guzzle all your boost in one touch.

Examine the top RL freestylers. They twirl before every touch. Sure, some twirling is to beautify their car soccer, but it also serves a purpose:

Shock absorption.

If you read the max speed section above, the same principles apply here. The forces in Rocket League reside in a constant state of attrition. Adding momentum from DAR limits the impact the ball unleashes upon your car.

But here’s where things get weird:

Holding both directional air roll inputs leaves your car stationary while reducing the ball’s impact. So, when you catch a freestyler hitting a nasty double tap head-on that makes you question whether you’re playing the same game as them, odds are that they’re using the double air roll trick.

With repetition, you’ll learn air roll tricks to reduce your impact on the ball, too. That opens up doors for catching air dribbles from high pops, among other difficult scenarios.

A tiny twist makes a world of difference in your aerial recoveries. With practice, you’ll manifest into a car control wizard.

Your boost thrusters’ angle affects your aerials.

two teammates double commit a save at different thruster angles. One car leans forward and the other is tilted upward and to the right.

When you tilt back for an aerial, if you rotate your car 180 degrees, you’ll pull altitude faster.

And if you don’t, you’ll gain distance.

The angle of your thrusters ultimately decides how your car navigates through 3-dimensional space.

So, yeah. At first glance, this might come off as a “well… duh!” tidbit, but it’s nuanced enough that methodical air rolling sprinkles a hint of speed.

These are the things coaches want you to analyze when they nag about “studying car control.”

Jumping for boost secures pads.

Emerald Pro wheels, white octane with turtle tribe decal, black background, nuts and bolts boost. Rocket league action shot, aerial save, what a save

If two cars arrive at a boost pad simultaneously, the elevated car snatches the pad every time. 

Boost hitboxes have rounded radii. The large hundo pads have an outer radius of 208 unreal units (uu.) The poverty pads scattered across the map use a smaller radius of 144uu.

Boost pad hitbox infographic: Text reads, "The Salty Shores field markers provide a great visual representation of boost pad hitboxes." Dirt circles with chalked edges end at the precise location boost pickup ends.

Once the root joint of your car connects with the boost pad radius, you absorb the boost directly to your tank. (The root joint is the sweet spot on your car that determines your flip axis.)

Text: "The vehicle's root joint is the point it flips from. Once it enters the boost pad hitbox, you collect the boost!"

Boost hitboxes are cylindrical. Big pads maintain a height of 168uu from the ground. The smaller 12 boost pads sit marginally shorter at 165uu.

Here’s where things get dicey:

If two players arrive at a boost pad simultaneously, the player on the furthest outreach of the hitbox wins the pad.

If you hover a jump’s length from the ground, you’ll reach the outer radius of the pad consistently. And the best part? Flips are perfect for speeding up and determining the location of your vehicle’s root joint. 

Enjoy the boost buffet. You’ll convert it into easy kickoff goals. You’ll deplete enemy defenses more consistently. What’s not to love?

Boost pads have a different hitbox when your car is stationary.

Rocket League boost camp meme. Women from mockup horror posters gasp in awe as the octane patiently awaits the mid boost to respawn.

You know how players treat camping boost pads like entering a demonic summoning circle? There’s a science behind why.

I mean, aside from the fact it sabotages your momentum.

In his data mine about boost pads, HalfwayDead uncovered that stationary cars pick up boost from a shrunken hitbox. It even changes shape. It’s a square hitbox, extended 160uu in every direction. Small pads extend 96uu.

Essentially, when you drive into the initial boost hitbox, you remain in an “exit hitbox” until you drive away.

Your vehicle’s root joint doesn’t need to connect with the exit hitbox. Instead, you need a non-wheel segment of your car to connect while the boost spawns.

Parked boost pickups get even stranger.

If two players arrive before the boost pad spawns, the player who arrives later often wins the pickup. As far as I know, the only exception is if both players camp for multiple boost spawns, where the player who received the first pickup receives all others… although that information isn’t practical for gameplay.

Moral of the story? Don’t sit around waiting for boost to spawn. If the momentum killer wasn’t enough, you need to worry about sniped pads.

Your second jump breaks your current momentum.

Visual aid showcasing the difference in trajectory between a single hop aerial and a fast aerial.

Do you ever wonder what separates a ‘fast aerial’ from a single hop?

Sure, I guess you could argue that the extra car-length height counts for something, but it isn’t exactly groundbreaking.

Next time you double hop, pay attention to your car’s momentum. When you tap your second jump, your forward momentum dissipates. The break in velocity frees up momentum to climb higher.

So, the real objective of a fast aerial is to help you transform your near-supersonic grounded car into a beast that climbs upward instead of barreling forward.