The Strategy and Mechanics of Flicks with Turbopolsa
Wed 5th Sep 2018 - 7:11pm
Flicks are an incredibly useful tool to have at your disposal in Rocket League and one that, if used correctly, is versatile enough to provide benefits in every playlist even at the highest levels of gameplay. To illustrate this point, we took some time to talk to Pierre "Turbopolsa" Silfver about the benefits of flicks on both offense and defense, and how to train them.
Flicks are one of the largest benefits of dribbling the ball on your car. Once you have space to gather the ball on the windshield of your car, you can then move forward with more control and the knowledge that the best an opponent will be able to do is challenge you for a 50/50. After initiating the dribble, there are several options available to you, including a flick. You'll need to be aware of the situation to know exactly which of those options to choose, but a flick can come in handy in many situations. However, even after you've learned the mechanics of executing one, it takes time to learn when they come in most useful.
When we asked Turbo, he said, "You use a flick to fling the ball up high and hard. A flick is way more surprising than a regular shot since you can kinda read where and how hard a shot is going to be. If someone is approaching you, you can easily flick over that opponent and make it awkward for the rest of their team to handle that ball."
So, if you have an opponent approaching for a challenge, you can flick the ball over and around them to take them out of the play and continue toward their goal. Additionally, an opponent may be spaced in a way that would allow them to block a shot, but not allow them to get high enough to contest a flick. So even if they aren't in the act of challenging, you can surprise your opponent by elevating the ball high and hard enough that they won't be able to respond.
Flicks can also be used as a defensive tool. If your team is under pressure, or if you don't have enough momentum/boost to make a successful power clear, you can gather the ball and flick it instead. Turbopolsa specified that you can "flick the ball to get it high and it creates more space and time for teammates to get in position for a good clear."
In the team playlists your teammates are obviously a huge asset. Anytime you find yourself in a situation where you're alone, stalling to give your teammates time to recover to give you backup is a necessity. Additionally, using flicks in this manner will alleviate pressure as even if your teammates cannot recover the ball from your flick, as it will force your opponents to use boost to gather it again and resume pressure.
As you become more comfortable with flicks, it's important to consider when to not use them. Turbo expressed that players should use flicks with caution because, "Flicks usually go high up. So, it’s very risky in a 1v1 situation in case it hits the backboard and the opponent gets a counter attack on it. Use flicks only if you want the ball high up and want more of a surprise factor in your shot."
As Turbo has specified above, flicks are a great source of surprise power and work beautifully at elevating the ball higher than a traditional shot would in many circumstances. However, if not controlled with precision, they can lead to a counter goal. Many professional players have incredible control of their flicks and can use them in with far more versatility than other players as they've mastered how to make minute changes to the mechanics to manipulate how the ball reacts. However, for most players and for those just learning how to flick the ball, there are a couple goldilocks zones where a flick can be safest for flicking on net, and a danger zone where, without at least very strong mechanical mastery, a flick is more likely to go too high and end up putting you under pressure.
We have those goldilocks zones outlined below:
Now that we've discussed how a flick is useful, it's time to talk about how to execute one. The hardest part is before even starting the flick and that's starting a dribble that is smooth enough to perform one. Dribbling with the ball on your car is a delicate process. If you want to flick the ball after initiating a dribble, you'll have to be even more delicate because flicks can only be performed when the ball is stable on your car. If the ball is bouncing or slipping from side to side, you won't be able to execute a clean flick. Once you have a smooth dribble started, there's a couple of ways that a player starting with flicks can move forward.
Turbopolsa told us, "You want the ball kind of on the window of the car to get a good hard and high flick. If you just want to backflip flick it, you need the ball on the middle of the car."
Keep in mind that a forward flick is going to give much more forward power than a backflip flick, but a backflip flick can be very useful in front of a crowded net as a pass and/or decoy to get your opponents out of net and to use a lot of boost in the challenge. The images below illustrate a couple examples of poor forward flicks and then a good forward flick:
This example of poor flick execution starts with the ball too far back on the car. It leads to flick that has no pressure and is easily defensible. Even worse, you'll be out of position as your flip will carry you past the ball.
This example of a weak flick starts with the player losing control of the ball off the front of his car. While it does require defending from the opposition, it will be easy to block due to the ball traveling so low.
This is the correct positioning. The ball is cradled between the hood and the windshield and flicks the ball both forward and upward.
To start training flicks, you may want to try to start with a custom training that allows you to gather the ball into a dribbling position quickly. This will let you test and experiment with the timing and mechanics quickly and with repetition. However, don't stay in custom training too long as it will become a crutch. For one, learning how to initiate a dribble smoothly in an organic manner is an important part of performing flicks in game and that can't be done in custom training.
Turbo outlined the second reason by saying, "The best way to practice flicks is just driving around in free play where you have endless of time to figure out how to do the perfect flick possible."
His point is a common consensus among high level players. Free play allows you to learn mechanics in a much wider variety of situations, thus leading you to learn the mechanic with a true versatility that can be applied in-game. The situations in custom training are simply too narrow to learn any mechanic with true mastery, and this is especially true with flicks.
But what do you do if an opponent is setting up a flick against you? If you're close enough to challenge early, Turbopolsa's advice is to do just that. He says, "Challenging early is the best way to defend against a flick, as it’s easier to defend a flick from far away than close and gives your teammates more time to process the ball. If the opponent has the ball on the hood of the car, then jump as high as possible but be aware of the fakes as that is a high-risk/high-reward kind of defending."
His point is especially true in the team playlists where simply getting the opponent to commit to something as soon as possible can help your team. But in a one-on-one situation where you're not close enough to challenge before your opponent has control, rushing across the field for a challenge will be easily avoidable by your opponent. In that situation you should fall into a shadowing position. You can find helpful a video about shadow defense here.
Once you've started learning how to perform a flick, you'll start to realize just how many varieties of flicks there are. While the backflip and forward flicks are the best places to start, you'll soon want to add more types to your arsenal to become even more unpredictable. One of Team Dignitas's other contributors has a helpful guide on the 45 degree flick that you can find here.
But according to Turbopolsa, there's one flick that tops them all. And without bias or unfair prompting, we convinced Turbo to reveal a cherished secret of top level players. We'll end this guide with the transcript of that startling exchange:
Q: What type of flick is the most deadly, most advanced, and most useful, and why is it the musty flick?
Turbopolsa: Musty flick is the most surprising flick out there. You never really know where and how hard up the top corner it's going to be. My tip for defending a musty flick is pray to the gods and hope he/she fails the flick badly.