This one’s pretty simple, my RL Padawans. Today we’ll be covering how to capitalize the arc of a ball. The full volley and half volley are both moments in the play where the ball has the strongest upward momentum. If you’re caught in gold ranks or below, there’s a good chance this may be new information to you.
If you’re caught in platinum or diamond ranks, I bet you’re familiar with the concept. There’s still some touching up we can do in these ranks, so feel free to stick around anyway.
We’re talking about bounces and timing them to make bigger, more efficient touches on the ball.
I’m giving credit to Rocket League analyst and commentator John MacDonald, better known as JonnyBoi_i.
In the past, he was a manager for the eSports giant Flipsid3 Tactics during their golden era. We’re talking about the days when the roster consisted of Kuxir97, Markydooda, and gReazymeister.
JohnyBoi_i is a great coach when he finds the time to post instructional videos. Although, he’s hyper-focused on his career as a caster. No harm there. I’d argue he’s the best caster in RLCS.
Simply put, a volley is any point in time where the ball is gaining altitude.
The first half of the ball’s arc has more potential to become a cross-field bullet than a ball with a downward arc. It’s a lot tougher to land a touch that launches the ball up while it’s on a downward arc.
It’s possible to make a powerful touch on a ball that isn’t still in its volley, but typically you’re limited to launching the ball upward with no forward momentum or vice versa.
Let’s take this perfectly beautiful screenshot of DFH stadium and mutilate it with some freeware photo editor elements, shall we?
A full-volley touch is a near-immediate follow-up touch from you or a teammate. A good example is when you pop the ball up for a bounce dribble and jump up for an aerial immediately afterward. They’re the types of touches you rush in for to try and throw off a defender. Redirect passes also make use of the full volley.
The half volley touch is likely the most common touch in Rocket League. They’re most common when a defender is launching a counter-attack while having enough space to properly time a touch.
A half volley is the ball’s upward arc after a bounce off of the ground. The same principle can apply to hits off of the wall, but we generally exclude those bounces since they’re largely unaffected by gravity.
I suppose there’s also a quarter volley, which is an upward arc after two bounces. They’re pretty uncommon. They aren’t ideal touches, either. By the time the ball has bounced off of the ground twice, it’s lost most of its momentum.
I’d advise hitting the ball sooner in these situations.
The short answer: As often as possible.
The better answer: Half volley touches can often mean a late arrival to the ball. You can lose a lot of 50/50’s by waiting for a better touch on the ball. For the half volley, you want to check to see if the ball is uncontested.
Full volley touches are almost always going to result in more goals scored. The only time to worry about making that second touch is when you are low on boost or a teammate is moving in for a pass.
As a small caveat, lobbies with high champs will be able to predict a second touch. Sometimes it’s better to fake. Spice up your game with a flashy touch like a musty flick or a vertical pop with a follow-up. Variety is key to becoming more difficult to read.
If you’re a champ, you already know that. I’m bringing it up anyway. Sometimes we get caught in mechanical wormholes trying to brute force our way through ranks. Even our little brothers in bronze do it.
The ball is most susceptible to its fastest forward momentum while it’s on a fresh upward arc. Subconsciously, you knew that. Hitting that smooth-as-gravy diagonal flip into the ball right after it bounces makes for some pretty unsavable shots.
Hop aboard the bullet train! Population: You!
Of course, we can’t arrive at every half volley during the precise moment of the bounce. As the volley gradually becomes stale, the ball loses more and more upward momentum. Gravity takes its toll.
A good Rocket League player adapts to any situation. So what can we do with that?
Learning to time your touch around the end of the ball’s upward arc can result in better aerial possession. You’ll achieve things like air dribbles or extra touches more easily.
With that knowledge, we can slowly adapt to doing less natural things with the ball by adjusting our car’s momentum. We can learn to air dribble a ball earlier and earlier in the volley’s arc by positioning ourselves closer to the ball and making slower aerial launches.
I bring this up because I want to save you the time of attempting ground-to-air dribbles the hard way. Instead, think of the volley like a long string. Don’t cut the string from a mile to an inch while practicing air dribbles.
Cut an inch at a time.
Conversely, if you want to make a bigger touch on a stale half volley, launch your aerials more aggressively. Take the most direct route possible. Practice tapping the underside of the ball. Add a bit of air roll to give your car an extra nudge in velocity.
Most of all: Try your hardest to use that wicked corner hit-box.
In many ways, a bounce dribble gives a player more possession than a full-on ball carry. You can slow the ball down, adjust its angle, and speed it up by adding more forward momentum with each bounce.
Each tap is a consistent threat of a shot on goal.
It’s pretty easy to set yourself up. If you slow your car down before tapping the ball, the ball is more likely to pop directly upward on a half volley. No flips or tricks are required.
To improve your bounce dribbles, you’ll want to make a routine out of practicing your timing on half volley touches.
Aim to be consistent. Practice popping the ball up five or more times without using boost in free-play. Spice it up by weaving left and right and try a few mid-air catches. Still too easy? Practice going beneath the ball and power-sliding a full 180 on each bounce.
The amount of control a bounce dribble grants is startling!
The shot opportunities are limitless.
A skilled Rocket League player has very keep awareness of a ball’s arc and how to best utilize it. Hopefully, I was able to highlight some of the tools volleys and half volleys that appear in your games, too. Now get out there and sprinkle some power and precision into your game!