You can’t consistently make good decisions without good information.
In Rocket League, the good news is that there isn’t any hidden information. If you pay enough attention, you know how where everyone is, what they’re doing, and how much boost they have.
You can think of that information as the equation of a moment: the locations of all the players, the potential actions they’re about to take, the resources they have available… You take all of that, add it together with the location of the ball and, well, that’s what happens next.
So how do we get all that information? How can we consistently predict the next moment accurately enough to base our decisions on it?
The answer is simple, we look around.
Look Around You
One of the best things you can do as a Rocket League player is to build a habit of gathering information without us really being consciously aware of it, much like using your mirrors while driving in real life.
The little information gathering sub-routine that you already have on account of being a human can be refined specifically towards the information you need in Rocket League.
Here’s a checklist:
- Teammates: Where are they? What are they doing?
- Opposition: Where are they? What are they doing?
- Boost: How much do people have? Where can they get more?
- Bounce: Is the bounce awkward or surprising? How can I cover it?
- Ball: Double-check your other observations
Teammates and Opponents
“Why are our teammates more important than our opponents?” cries a lone voice from the back.
“Well,” I say, “our opponents have an obvious objective. They wish to score on us. If all else fails, I can cover the net as my default action.”
“Our teammates are less obvious. Yes, they want to score. But they might want to pass to us in which case we need to be ready for that. Or they might be positioned so we can pass to them, and we need to recognise that too.”
The additional uncertainty of the effect of our teammates’ available options is harder to read than the opponents so we should get that information first. This will help ensure that we’re never slow to receive a pass or take a quick pass opportunity if one presents itself.
After we’ve ascertained the current status of our teammates and opponents, we should turn our attention to the boost situation.
How much do people have, and where can they get more? Knowing that will help weight the other players’ potential options for you, making it more likely that you’ll be able to predict what happens next and act accordingly.
In fourth place, we have bounces.
Sometimes, they’re just a nightmare and need more attention. As soon as you spot a less predictable bounce coming, start thinking about where it could end up immediately because great opportunities can come out of others misreading such moments… or the situation may be reversed if they get the read.
Either way that’s the last thing we need to look at before we look at the thing everyone else is looking at first: The Ball.
Earlier, it was discussed how all this information produces an equation and what happens next is the answer to the equation.
Simply put, that’s what the ball is: the answer to the equation set out by the first four things. We should really only need to look at the ball to confirm that everything else was correct.
At this point, we’re merely double-checking our answer and we should already be beginning to act. The ball won’t change its current path unless a player touches it and if we already know what the players are doing… well, there’s only so many ways to say the same thing again!
As always, if you’re interesting in a more details around this topic then it might be worth booking a coaching session with me.