Take Your Rocket League Gameplay to the Next Level: Defense
Wed 6th Jun 2018 - 6:54pm
Defense seems like a simple concept. Keep the ball away from your goal. Simple right? Maybe in the lower ranks, yes. But as your rank rises, the skill required for defense also rises.
Defense is the best form of offense. This saying is no different in Rocket League. It applies to every sport and Rocket League, at its heart, is a sport. In order to consistently win games and improve your competitive rank, the mechanics and strategies that come with defense are essential.
Communication on Defense
Often in lower ranks, players will panic when the ball comes toward their net. They will often lunge their cars at it without thinking. In 2s and 3s, you will see every single player on one team committing to a ball, trying to save it. But when there is a follow-up shot, no one is in the net to attempt to save the ball. In higher ranks, this is more unlikely but still possible. Here are some tips to keep this from happening.
1) Try your best to call out when you are going for a save! This way your teammates will know to stay in net, and wait for a follow-up shot. If you are in solo queue, you could use your quickchat options.
2) If you don't have a form of voice communication with your teammates, try looking for their cars and seeing whether they commit to the save before making the decision to go up for the save.
3) In solo queue, rotations are key. If you are rotating properly, the entire team will know who should go for what ball.
4) Be knowledgeable of who's around you. Do you have a teammate rotating back to goal? Is there an opponent trying to bump you? Is your teammate getting boost? As you begin to try to answer these questions while in game, it becomes natural, and it will surely improve your team coordination on defense.
Mental and Physical Defense Mechanics
As you go through the ranks, more complicated mechanics are required to save a well-placed shot. Without the proper mechanics on defense, it's very hard for a player to rise in the ranks. On defense, there is both a mental side and physical side. These sides are often connected and will lead to fluidity on defense. Here are some tips that can improve your defense overall.
1) As your opponent dribbles towards the goal, be patient! Don't immediately lunge at the ball. Try to slow the pace of the game down when you save a ball, so your teammate(s) can rotate back with ease.
2) Attack your opponent when you are confident that they can't flick the ball over you. Try to cut off the path between the ball and your goal, so your opponent has less options to score.
3) Mix up what you do on defense! If you wait for your opponent to take a shot every single time you are on defense, they will recognize that and will do something different to score. Maybe try challenging early and catching your opponent off guard!
4) Fake challenge! By faking a challenge, your opponent will think that he can take a shot. Once he does so, you will have an easy save.
5) If you are rotating back to goal, and your teammate is the only one in net, try your best to disrupt the dribble or the shot from your opponent. This way, your teammate is forced to make a save.
6) Try to predict whether your opponent will shot, dribble and flick, or fake! The more you get used to this, the more you will be able to recognize what your opponent will do!
Playing 1v1s is a great way to improve your defensive mental and physical game. Since you are the only one who is on defense, you can learn when to challenge a shot and when not to by playing 1s.
Here is a video from SubPartButInHD that explains some very useful tips for defense:
Backboard defense is an essential skill, especially in higher ranks. A team on defense should always have a player on the backboard, ready to save any double touch shot or to cut off a pass that is going on the backboard. The backboard is also useful when you have no boost and you have to save high shot. Here are some tips that you can implement into your backboard defense.
1) Try your best to cut off any pass that is going onto the backboard!
2) Get used to dribbling the ball onto your own backboard when you are trying to clear the ball. This is a last resort option, when the ball is rolling from the corner into your goalie box.
3) As said before, try to always have a teammate that is ready to go onto the backboard to clear a pass!
5) In higher ranks, the best way to clear a ball off the backboard is a powerclear. This is when you jump off the backboard right under where the ball will hit the backboard. Once you do that, the ball should bounce off the backboard and onto the front of your car, and then off into the other side of the field. There is a tutorial for this mechanic by Kevpert below:
Clearing the Ball
In lower ranks, clearing the ball is simple. It's when you get that notification in the top right corner of the screen, and you get 10 points for doing so. It's when you do everything you can do in order to push the ball out of your side of the field. But clearing the ball can be used so much more effectively if done correctly. Good clears lead to counter attacks. Here are some tips to get the most out of your clears.
1) Try to clear the ball into the corner, away from the front of the goal. This way, your teammates have time to rotate back and your opponents will have to make another pass in order to score.
2) When you clear a ball, look for your teammates! Most often in higher ranks, your teammate(s) will cheat up when they see that you have an easy clear. Try to pass to them so they can have an easier shot at goal!
3) If none of your teammates are cheating up, just clear it towards your opponent's goal or to either of their corners! This way your opponents have to prepare on defense.
4) If you have no boost and need to clear the ball, you can try to win a 50/50 with an opponent. Hopefully the ball will bounce onto your opponent's side rather than your own.
Here are some clips that prove how effective clears can lead to goals on your opponents' end:
The best way to practice defense is by constantly doing these tips and advice. You will get more and more consistent and the movements will be embedded into muscle memory. Freeplay is great for getting used handling to the ball and certain training packs are also great for defense. (Code for training pack, made by Kyle "Torment" Storer, someone who many consider to the best 3rd man in the world: 9F09-E4D3-EAB0-69AD)
I hope this blog has helped you with your troubles on defense! These tips should help raise your rank a few levels or so. If you don't find success, don't try to blame someone else for a mistake on defense. Look at your game and find what you could have done better. Good luck in your next Rocket League match!
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