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Backboard Reads - A Guide with Yukeo

Wolfii

Wolfii

Thu 5th Dec 2019 - 9:33pm

Ceiling shots, flip resets, and other crazy mechanical aspects of Rocket League have swarmed social media sites when you're looking at the game. Sure, a double flip reset off the ceiling into a flick is very impressive, but sometimes it's nice to take a step back and re-evaluate the importance of every mechanic that you do. While some may be flashier than others, the flashier ones tend to be the least effective in ranked matches, simply because they are so difficult to pull off and disrupt rotation a lot of the time.

But what about the simpler mechanics that can still be flashy at the same time? What about double touches and overall backboard reads? We ask Maurice "Yukeo" Weihs to help answer some questions you might want to know about this area of the game.

The Importance of Backboard Reads

As established, backboard reads are important to an extent. When asked, Yukeo clarified by saying, "Backboard reads used to be the difficult way to score goals in competitive games in the first couple of seasons. Once people started defending on the walls, they started to become less useful. In my opinion, it counts to the basics, which means you should be consistent at it. To come back to the question, they are very important."

Yukeo makes a very good point here. As the game has progressed over the years, players have learned to adapt to clearing the ball off of the wall. This makes purposefully set up backboard shots more difficult, especially in those higher ranks.

However, just as Yukeo states, reading where the ball is going to bounce after it hits the backboard is a basic essential. You need to understand how the ball will react as it makes contact with the backboard in relation to:

  • The speed that the ball is travelling at/hitting the backboard at.
  • The height of the ball as it hits the backboard.
  • The angle the ball is hitting the backboard at.

So, really, a lot of it comes down to understanding ball physics in the game. In fact, Yukeo elaborates by saying, "Being able to read every bounce in Rocket League is key in general. If you can read any bounce you are able to react faster than your opponent and potentially beat him to the ball and score goals."

It's not just backboard reads, then, but also every other time the ball bounces off a surface, whether that be a wall, floor, or even the ceiling. So are backboard reads important? The short answer is absolutely, because it is part of understanding how the ball moves and how you can react to that.

Performing Double Touches

Perhaps one of the most popular mechanics is a double touch off the backboard. Professionals have come extremely consistent at these. Below is a montage of Rocket League professionals hitting impressive double touches. 

(Credit: MUCHOE - YouTube)

Obviously this comes from a lot of practice and time, but how would you start getting into this mechanic?

When asked how to set up a double touch, Yukeo said, "You basically just have to get enough power to hit the ball over the goal. It can be created from a pass, bounce, or even the wall." Hitting the ball with a good amount of height and power will set you up perfectly to go for the rebound. When asked if it is better to start from the ground or the wall, Yukeo stated, "Probably off the wall, because you are going to be at least close to the same height as the ball everytime you set them up from the wall. In general though, everyone is different, which means maybe for some people starting off a double touch can be easier from the ground."

The Rebound

So once the ball hits the backboard, then, you need to figure out how to angle your car to hit the ball into the net from there. A few things you might want to consider when it comes to this may be:

  • The angle of your car
  • The speed of your car
  • The height of your car

As for the first one, air rolling is going to be the main aspect here. To expand, Yukeo responds, "Air rolling is key to readjusting your car. It is not necessary for double touches, but can definitely help you get crazy angles and reach the ball easier. It is more of an advanced technique to get tight angles with a lot of power."

As you play the game more over time, you will come to notice that parts of your car hit the ball with more or less power than other parts of your car. For example, the underneath of your car will hit the ball with very little power compared to the front corner of your car which would apply a lot more power. Air rolling in the air allows you to direct your car towards the ball and gives you the chance to hit it with as much power as is needed.

As an additional note on how to position your car when going for that rebound shot, Yukeo suggests, "You should always try to be at the same path as to where you hit the ball onto the backboard, because the further off your car is from the ball, the more difficult it is going to be for you to reach the ball and also get the angle back towards the net." Basically, then, as you hit the ball up onto the backboard, you should always try to follow the path that the ball took, as this makes double touches ten times easier.

Effectiveness of Double Touches

So double touches, as we've established, are very useful. However, like every part of the game, there are good and bad times to go for this kind of shot. When asked when a bad time to go for the shot may be, Yukeo replied, "When you see the backboard will most likely be covered." As you might expect, going for a double touch when the backboard has players on it may prove to be difficult, as it is much more defendable for the other team.

Opposingly, though, Yukeo states that a good time would be, "Whenever you see the backboard not being covered, or whenever you think your opponent doesn't have enough boost to defend a high backboard read. Basically try to go for them when it is least expected and make them think you go for a shot on target, but then go for a double touch instead." This proves the effectiveness of the mental side of the game, too, as you can trick your opponents into believing you are going for a standard shot, whereas you are going for a double touch.

So, taking it back to the start, are double touches just a flashy move to look impressive or are they genuinely useful? When asked, Yukeo replied, "If you are very good and comftorable doing double touches, it is definitely a very useful move in my opinion. I used to score a lot of double touches in high competitive play and still sometimes do. So definitely not just a flashy move. You just have to choose wisely and only go for them when you know they won't expect it."

As the game grows older, players have adapted over time. With the introduction of impressive mechanical abilities such as ceiling shots and flip resets over the past couple of years, double touches have slowly began to be more defendable, readable, and sometimes predictable. However, as players begin to focus more on these new, crazy mechanics, it might be time to dust off the older tricks which to this day prove to be just as, if not more, effective than the new ones.