The Backboard Is Your Friend - A Rocket League Guide



Fri 14th Sep 2018 - 10:36am

Sure, we all have that bit of hatred for the backboard when we take a shot and somehow blast the ball higher than expected. But when you take a step back, you may just begin to notice that the backboard in Rocket League is your friend and can in fact help you in more ways than you might think. 

Clearing the Ball from Your Side

This is common but surprisingly under-performed in the general community. As the opposing team approaches your half of the field with possession over the ball, you are going to want to either contest the threat that this team is giving (if you have teammates that are there if this contest was to fail), or you are going to want to position yourself in a suitable spot to save the ball.

For argument's sake, let's assume that you are the last defender of your team and are facing a threat from the opposite team. The most common area to prepare for an attack on your net is either the left or the right of the net. I have written a previous article surrounding positioning yourself correctly in the face of danger, and this can be seen on the Team Dignitas website if you are interested. However, the backboard is always an option if you believe the shot will be high.

Generally, shots that are often hit low to the ground include:

  • Dribbles where the ball is not on top of the player's car
  • Power shots from a distance
  • Weak aerial shots

Otherwise, shots that are often hit higher in the net include:

  • Air dribbles
  • Ceiling shots
  • Dribbles where the ball is on top of the player's car, as they are much more likely to flick the ball
  • Flip reset shots
  • Powerful aerial shots

Needless to say, players may not always follow these general shot positions, but these, undoubtedly, are the most common shot positions regarding different shot types.

Knowing this, then, as an opponent begins to perform a particular shot, you can much more easily prepare by positioning yourself either on the ground (for those low shot types) or the backboard (for those high shots). If you are on the ground and a high shot is hit, then boosting upwards to save the shot not only wastes your boost, but takes much more time and could be much more of a risk than if you were on the backboard.

Below is a clip of a 3v3 match. I recognised the opponent's moves and saw that they were preparing for an aerial shot, as the ball was lifted off the ground. Rocket League is heavily based around understanding other players and by knowing what they're going to do is going to guide your gameplay in the right direction. After seeing this, I positioned myself on the backboard, which allowed for a quicker, more effective clear.

Not only did positioning myself on the backboard mean that I used less boost in order to clear the ball from our half, but it meant that I had the opportunity to advance forwards, as my momentum had come from leaping off the backboard. If you are able to capitalise on this opportunity, you are much more likely to pose a threat to the enemy team.

Using the Backboard as a Passing Technique

Now for the complete opposite of clearing a ball; passing it to a teammate. If you find you are the only one pushing up as you control the ball, one move you may wish to perform is to flick the ball up onto the backboard. This is a very unexpected move if you are in the shoes of the opposite team. It is much more expected to simply take a shot on the net, and the defenders will already be prepared to save a shot.

By hitting the ball onto the backboard, you both confuse the other team and leave an opportunity for your teammates to capitalise on, and hopefully score a goal. Below is a clip in a ranked match. One player from our team notices the threat of defenders and hits the ball at the backboard. This meant the ball rolled back out and the next teammate could come in and score.

Passing using the backboard, then, can be very effective. It is often seen in professional gameplay, so be sure to keep an eye out for how commonly it is used in events such as the Rocket League World Championships (RLCS).

It is important to know, at the same time, that using the backboard for passes may not always be a suitable choice.

Times where passing using the backboard is appropriate:

  • When there are multiple defenders in the opposing team's net
  • When there is one or two teammates close by of which yoou can pass to
  • When you have control over the ball. If you do not have control, you may hit the ball in an inappropriate place, meaning the play would be ruined

Times where passing using the backboard is not always appropriate:

  • When taking a shot on your own is simple enough
  • When there is only one defender is the net
  • When there are no teammates by your side or if they are out of position

The Fancy Stuff

By 'the fancy stuff', I mean the shot types that you see are being pulled off that make you want to applaud. These include ceiling shots, air dribbles and, most importantly for this particular topic, double touches. If you wish to go for a fancy shot of any sort, the backboard allows you to spend more time performing that shot.

Assuming that you are wanting to perform a ceiling shot, it is more effective if you ride the ball up the wall and hit it out towards the backboard. After doing this, ride up and fall off the ceiling so that you still have your flip. If you have timed this well, you the ball should bounce off the backboard perfectly in line for your ceiling shot. 

This beats letting the ball bounce off the floor, as the enemy would have a lot more time to read the play and counter it. If you used the backboard, it is significantly more difficult to understand and deny the play.

Overall, the backboard is, indeed, your friend and will allow you to form team plays, saves, and individual shots. It is rather underutilised, so next time you find yourself in a ranked match, think about the backboard a bit more often and, who knows, you might see some improvement in your gameplay.

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