From its humble beginnings back in 2015, Rocket League has become everyone’s favourite vehicular soccer game and boasts an exciting eSports scene. The player base has grown steadily, and it’s one of those games that’s easy to get into but difficult to master. Rocket League has a tremendously high skill ceiling but is very intuitive and easy to pick up. This is why it can be such a rewarding experience.
So you’ve installed Rocket League and you’re ready for some car soccer. Now what?
It’s a good idea to configure your binds before you start playing. There’s nothing worse than changing binds 200 hours in and having to spend weeks developing new muscle memory. Rocket League is an input-heavy game, and a claw grip is recommended where you have your middle fingers on the triggers and index fingers on the bumpers. Not everyone uses the same configuration, but here is my suggestion for an Xbox controller (use corresponding buttons on PlayStation DualSense).
A – Jump
B/Y – Focus On Ball
X – Air Roll Left
RB – Boost
LB – Powerslide (on ground) & Air roll (in air)
RT – Drive Forwards
LT – Drive Backwards
LS – Steer Left/Right
RS – Camera control
You can leave the camera and sensitivity settings on Default, but once you have a couple of hours under the belt, try fiddling with these. You might want to increase the Steering and Aerial Sensitivity and Deadzone for better movement, or change your camera settings for better visibility. Try some pros’ camera settings and see if it works for you.
The most popular bodies in Rocket League are the Fennec and Octane. These are the most natural feeling cars in terms of movement and ball control. Interestingly, the Fennec and Octane share the same hitbox. Another car to consider is the Dominus, the driving slice of bread! The Dominus isn’t quite as popular as the Fennec and Octane, but some players like it for its powerful flicks. Try all three and see which one feels the best for you.
The Flip & Shooting
This is the first and most important skill you will learn in Rocket League. A flip gives your car an instant speed boost and is much faster than simply driving. But it isn’t only used for movement: you can also flip into the ball to generate extra power or perform a flick. Once you graduate from Bronze and Silver you’ll want to start using flips for wave dashes, half-flips, and speed-flips.
Before we get carried away, let’s focus on the basics. A flip is performed by pressing jump once, then quickly pressing it again while aiming left stick in the direction you wish to flip. So to perform a forward flip, you press jump, aim forward with left stick, then press jump again. Let’s jump into some Free Play: Play -> Training -> Free Play. You will spend a lot of time here practicing mechanics.
Start slowly, and once you develop coordination and muscle memory, speed it up. When you feel comfortable with the forward flip, try flipping in different directions to see how your car behaves: do diagonal, side, and backward flips.
Once you have a good understanding of the flip, try flipping into the ball. Time your flip so that the nose of the car hits the ball. This will give your shot extra power.
In a real game the ball will be moving, so let’s try something more challenging. Head over to Play -> Training -> Custom. At the bottom of the screen click on Enter Code and paste this: 9703-AE61-A63D-51D1. This is a Rookie Striker pack, and your objective is to score goals! For starters, simply guide the ball into the net, and once you have a good feel for it, use jumps and flips to generate extra power.
The Double Jump
Similar to a flip, a double jump is performed by pressing jump twice in quick succession, however with a double jump you do not aim left stick in any direction. This will propel your car upwards and is useful when you want to take to the skies. You have a maximum of 1.5 seconds to use your second jump, and this timer also applies for flips.
Let’s hop into Free Play and practice the double jump. Drive forward and perform a double jump, then quickly aim left stick backwards and start feathering boost to push your car into the air. Once you’re high, stop feathering boost so your car starts coming down. As your car approaches the field again, aim forward to tilt the nose down. Try and maneuver your car so that it hits the field on all four wheels and keeps its momentum; this is also known as a recovery (more on that later).
A double jump, in an attacking sense, will usually lead to an aerial, which means controlling or hitting the ball in the air. Controlling your car in the air is done with a combination of steering, air rolling, and boost. As a beginner, it’s wise to focus on steering first and incorporate air roll at a later stage.
When your car is in the air, you can steer left and right just as you would on the ground. Additionally you can aim left stick forward and back to tilt the car. Your car will not actually change course by just steering; this is achieved by feathering boost.
Let’s use a built-in training pack to reinforce the double jump and practice aerials. Head on over to Play -> Training -> Aerial, and start with the Rookie training pack.
For the Rookie pack, you can either use a single or double jump, but for the Pro training it’s better to start with a double jump. Once you’re in the air, the alignment probably won’t be perfect. You need to make micro adjustment to get your car heading towards the ball. Make use of steering and tilting and feathering boost to get your car moving towards the ball. This might feel strange initially, but with some practice it will become second nature!
Dribbling & Flicks
Dribbling is another important skill to master. Being able to beat an opponent in a 1v1 situation is what will get you to the higher ranks.
Let’s start by doing a simple dribble where you are pushing the ball with the nose of your car. Try to stay close to the ball by driving forward and feathering boost. Dribble the ball into the corners of the net.
One of the most effective ways to use the basic dribble is a sudden change of direction. This can be very hard to defend against, even at Grand Champion and Supersonic Legend ranks. Drive up the side of the field, and as you get close to goal push the ball across. This can either be performed with a flip or just boosting into the ball while changing direction. Position yourself to the side of the ball and as close as possible, so you can pull the trigger at any moment. In a real game, pay attention to your opponent. If he lunges in, immediately flick or boost to push it past him. If he is shadow defending, try to get close and then push it past.
Next we’ll try something a bit more advanced, dribbling with the ball on top of our car. Scoop the ball onto your car and see how long you can keep it up! You can either scoop it up by driving into it, or driving beside the ball and cutting under it. Again, this is something that will be difficult initially, but after a few hours of practice it will feel natural. Remember to turn ball cam off for dribbling.
Having the ball on top of your car is a great position, as it gives you many different options. You can perform a flick, aerial dribble, or a simple double jump to surprise the defender. The first one we will practice is the double jump. Position the ball on top of your car, and as you approach the goal, perform a double jump to lift it over the defender. This can be very difficult to defend against.
The flick is more of an intermediate mechanic and falls outside of the scope of this article, but it’s always a good idea to start practicing the more advanced stuff, even if you cannot do it yet. There are a bunch of flicks, from a musty to a breezy, but let’s start with a basic flick. Position the ball on top of your car, and perform a side or diagonal flip. You will quickly realise it isn’t as easy as it appears. Your timing needs to be perfect to execute the flick accurately.
Attacking is fun, but sometimes (only sometimes) we have fall back and prevent the opponent from scoring. When you are making a save, think about where your clearance is going to go. You don’t want to save the ball only for it to turn into a pass to an opponent who then scores an open net. A good rule of thumb is to make your clearances towards the corners or sides of the field. For defending we will use the built-in training, so head on over to Play -> Training -> Goalie. I feel like the Rookie training is ridiculously easy, so we’ll start with the Pro training (however feel free to try Rooke first).
Focus on two things: making a save and putting in a good clearance. With a good clearance you can turn defense into attack and make your opponents scramble back. Sometimes you can even make a save and take possession of the ball.
Quite often your car will get knocked into orbit. Maybe you went up for a fifty or an opponent bumped you. From this position you need to make a recovery and get back into the game as quickly as possible. The key to good recoveries is to maneuver your car in such a way that it doesn’t lose momentum. When your car lands, you want to try and face the direction of your momentum. Rocket League is a fast-paced game and a poor recovery can often lead to a goal against you.
Game sense isn’t really something that can be taught with a simple drill; it’s developed naturally by spending hours and hours in-game. Being able to make smart rotations, knowing when to challenge and when to shadow defend, reading your opponents–these are all very important skills.
Rotation usually means cycling back to defense after making an attacking play. This is something you will learn over time, and it’s important to find a good balance. Not rotating enough will lead to overextensions and double commits, but rotating too often will give your opponents too much space. Try to make your rotations away from the ball, so as not to interfere with your teammate coming in for a play.
Apart from playing, game sense can be developed by watching better players. Head over to Twitch and spend some time watching players like FairyPeak and Extra. Pay attention to things like rotations, boost management, and recoveries.
Rocket League introduces a new competitive season every 3-4 months, which resets ranks and introduces a Rocket Pass along with new content. At the beginning of a season, players have 10 placement games before receiving a rank. This applies to the three competitive game modes, namely 1s, 2s, and 3s. We are currently in Season 10 which will run from March 8th to June 7th 2023.
There are a total of eight Competitive ranks. Every rank has three levels, for example Diamond I, Diamond II, and Diamond III. Each level has a division, which is Division I, Division II, Division III, and Division IV.
You start at Bronze I, Division I. Once you make your way through all four divisions of Bronze I, you advance to Bronze II and start at Division I again.