The Mental Side of Rocket League

In this article, Rocket Sledge brings you some much-needed words of wisdom in regards to the most overlooked skill set in Rocket League.

In a fast-paced video game like Rocket League, age is often a disadvantage. The ability to pick up new skills, take advantage of split-second reaction times, even just the freedom to devote long hours to practice: these are all benefits that come from youth. 

As an over-30 player myself, I recognise the difference that age has had on my game. But I’ve always felt there is one advantage that us older gamers have over the ‘kids’. Mental skill.

The older I get, the more I become aware of how I have developed a more realistic outlook. This is a different type of freedom but it can allow you to enjoy Rocket League for what it is: a game.

Now, this doesn’t mean you’re not competitive or that you have ‘fun’ losing. Instead, mental skills allow a person to overcome setbacks that might tilt another (often younger) player. It also helps you keep your mental well-being separate from the game.

I’m not saying I haven’t seen rage-quitting 40 year-olds or calm and collected teenagers. Nor am I saying anyone is too young to work on their mental skills. This is just something I feel is strong in my own game and thought was worthy of sharing.

With all this in mind, I’m going to spend the rest of this article dropping some Rocket League truths on you.

The Inevitable

Whether you are Bronze 1 or an RLCS Pro, the following are what I like to call ‘guaranteed possibilities’ for any Rocket League match you play:

You will whiff an ‘easy’ save.

Your teammate with whiff an ‘easy’ save.

You will miss an open net.

Your teammate will miss an open net.

When things like this happen in a game, moving forward requires more than just mechanics. It actually can rely on a completely different skill-set. One that is often forgotten and for which there is no training pack. Yes, I’m talking about mental skills.

READ MORE: 10 Ways to Improve at Rocket League in 2019

The mental side of Rocket League is huge. No doubt you’ve heard things related to it when people speak of being ’tilted’ or ‘rage-quitting’.

Just as we would train to reduce the chance of whiffing on a ball, a well-rounded Rocket League player should strive to train his mental abilities for the inevitable situations that I described above.

The goal of this article is to offer you a mental training pack. The first ‘shot’ involves accepting mistakes.

Accepting Imperfection

‘This isn’t Champ gameplay’ – A common comment on a lot of Rocket League YouTube videos, including my own.

Players can have a lot of misconceptions about what Rocket League play should look like at specific levels and the biggest one is expecting perfection.

Sadly, this can still be the case when players actually reach those higher levels themselves. ‘To err is human’ the saying goes and that applies to the highest levels of any activity.

As a hockey fan, I am certain with a little time I could put together a low-light reel of NHL players missing ‘easy’ shots and saves. Yes, people playing at the highest level, on multi-million-dollar contracts, making mistakes.

via GIPHY

Switching back to Rocket League, it should be easy to see why a mental adjustment may be needed when comes to errors in Rocket League.

No matter what the rank, mistakes are going to happen. A mentally skilled person is realistic and able to move on quickly from errors made by their teammates. They don’t focus on the ‘why?’ or the ‘how?’, they just accept that it happened and move on.

How did you miss that?!

‘How did you miss that?!’ is probably the worst question to ask in Rocket League, for two reasons: First of all, there is no answer that will ever satisfy the asker or fix and undo the play. Secondly, the actual answer is usually one that all involved already know: THEY SIMPLY MADE A MISTAKE.

If you can find the ability to laugh at mistakes (your own AND others’) it will be a huge step in strengthening the mental side of your game.

When you experience situations like the GIF I linked below, you need to laugh even if it’s just to keep from crying. Seriously, can you feel my pain in these?

via Gfycat

A mentally skilled person is better prepared to accept others mistakes when they are self-aware enough to recognize their own.

There is a line here though. Some people are very forgiving of others but way too hard on themselves. You should be just as ready to forgive yourself as your teammate so that you can avoid that self-tilt which often just leads to more mistakes.

Immediately accepting and moving on from mistakes can seem like a large mental challenge. But it can be easier when you step back and see the bigger picture with a few more Rocket League ‘truths’…

The Other Side

A mentally skilled player is able to accept the ‘guaranteed possibilities’ I outlined at the beginning because they know it goes both ways. Your opponents are just as susceptible to the same issues.

You are not being matched against perfect Rocket League players. Mental skill is never going to trump mechanical skill, but in a close competition, it could provide the edge you need.

At the very least, being mentally skilled allows you to easily move on from a loss because you know and accept two more “guaranteed possibilities”:

100% of the Time, Everytime

You and your teammate(s) will win.

OR

You and your teammate(s) will lose.

For these I can actually guarantee that ONE of them WILL happen every game and it’s not always going to be the one that makes you feel good.

Sometimes players seem to think that they should have a win percentage of 99. But that is just not realistic. Most players hover around the 50% mark, even GCs.

Losing in Rocket Leagues is part of the game. How you deal with it is a mental skill that may need to be trained. Losing is not something you “rank out of”.

Now successive loses can really put toll on even the most “mentally skilled” player. Knowing when to stop playing has nothing to do with rage-quitting or being tilted but can be the mark of a mentally skilled player making a healthy choice at the right time.

Final Thoughts

Just like mechanical skills, mental training is going to take some time. But don’t give up, the results are worth it!

Playing this game without negative thoughts and emotions just makes it more fun. And after-all, that is the end goal of Rocket League.

For some more mental tips you can check out this video I made with the legendary SunlessKhan:

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