15 Essential Rocket League Tips for Beginners Who Want to Improve

Rocket League is easy to play, hard to master. Here are some key tips that’ll immediately improve your gameplay.
Image credit: Psyonix

Rocket League is one of the best pick-up-and-play games for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Matches are super short, the playerbase is insanely active, and it’s fun no matter what your skill level is. Still on the fence? See more reasons for why Rocket League is worth playing.

But if you’re a new player and you’re finding it hard to win games, here are several important tips that’ll help you improve in record time. Ready to score more goals and make amazing saves? Keep reading and take notes!

1. Adjust Your Camera Settings

You can adjust the camera settings to whatever is most comfortable for you, but a few of the settings can give you more information and equip you to make better plays, so you should consider tweaking them as follows:

  • Camera FOV: The default is 90, but increasing it will let you see more in your peripheral at the expense of creating a fish-eye lens effect around the edges. You’ll get used to it, though, and the extra information is crucial when making split-second decisions. I have mine set to 110 for maximum information.
  • Camera Stiffness: The default is 0, which causes the camera’s distance to your car to change depending on how fast your car is going. If you frequently miss shots because the camera distance keeps changing (especially when you go supersonic), increase the stiffness to 0.9-1.0 (mine is at 1.0). A lot of pros keep it in the 0.3-0.5 range.
  • Camera Shake: The default is on, but you really should turn it off. Camera shake feels nice for the immersion, but can distort your perception in high-action moments and cause you to miss important shots or saves.

2. Use Powerslide to Turn

Powersliding is the first real skill that every Rocket League player needs to master. It’s a simple one, but so versatile! Making sharper turns means: changing your direction on a whim; conserving momentum more efficiently; reaching shots faster; clearing the ball more often; making more daring saves; and so much more. Whenever you want to turn, you should tap (or briefly hold) the Powerslide button. You rarely need to hold it down and perform a full-on drift!

3. Use Powershots to Shoot

A Powershot is when you hit the ball hard; a harder hit results in a faster shot that’s more accurate, harder to chase, and harder to block. There are two core elements to performing a Powershot: 1) hitting it with the correct part of your car and 2) dodging into the ball at the correct time. Your front bumper and corner bumpers provide the strongest hits, while your tires and your roof offer the weakest. You want to dodge just before your car makes contact with the ball to strike with the most force. If you dodge too early, you’ll hit it with your roof and serve a limp shot.

You can strike even harder by boosting your speed (the faster your car, the stronger the hit) as well as hitting in the same direction as the ball’s current direction (adding your momentum to the ball’s momentum).

4. Conserve Your Boost Meter

Boost is critical for making critical plays: shooting hard, blocking shots, chasing balls, and performing aerial hits (don’t worry about this yet if you’re a new player). There’s nothing worse than spotting an opportunity and not having enough Boost to do what you want to do—so it’s important that you expend your Boost wisely, never wasting it when it isn’t needed.

In addition, always try to collect Boost pads when you’re moving about. The big orbs along the center and corners of the arena are nice when you can get to them, but don’t underestimate how much meter you can refill just by running over the pads as you get from point A to B!

5. Speed Up by Dodging Forward

If you need to get somewhere quickly while conserving your Boost meter, use the Forward Dodge mechanic to increase your speed. (Simply double-tap the Jump button while holding Forward on your steering stick to dodge forward.) Four well-performed Forward Dodges will get you pretty close to max speed, allowing you to save your Boost meter for when you really need it.

6. Watch the Players, Not the Ball

In Rocket League, the movement of the ball is paramount—but it’s important to remember that the ball never moves on its own. It’s the players that determine where the ball goes. So even if the ball is mid-air, don’t stare at the ball itself! Instead, watch the players around the ball and anticipate their movements to see who’s in position to hit it. And in a more general sense, you can survey the overall position of both teams relative to the ball to get a sense of which team has control and whether it’s safe to drive up or better to fall back toward your goal.

7. Line Up With the Ball

If you’re on the offense, aim to position yourself in such a way that the ball is between you and the opposing team’s goal. This is the best way to ensure that your hits will take the ball into the net. On the other hand, if the opposing team takes control of the ball, you should fall back and put yourself between the ball and your team’s goal.

Put more simply: always be aware of where you are in relation to the ball. Draw a mental line from the ball to your car, and this will tell you what you need to know for both offense and defense.

8. Position Relative to Teammates

Have you ever thrown yourself at the ball only to realize that your teammates also threw themselves at the ball, leaving your goal wide open for counterattack? This—and many other strategic mistakes—happen when you don’t have teammate awareness. If your teammate is contesting the ball, support him with defense. If your teammate is tending the goal, go out and contest the ball. If your teammate is driving up the sidelines, keep center and look for a pass or stray ball. The less you double-up with a teammate, the more coverage of the arena you have as a team, and the more opportunities will open up!

9. Use Corners to Set Up Shots

Shoot the ball directly at the goal if you can, but that’s not always possible. Maybe your position is off, or maybe the enemy team is in the way. Fortunately, the design of Rocket League arenas leads the ball to the goal when it rolls along the walls—which means if you roll the ball through the corners, you can set up a goal for one of your teammates. You can also shoot the ball right into the corners and have it bounce off, often so that it lands somewhere in front of the goal, allowing one of your teammates to shoot it in. Set your ego aside and consider being the playmaker of your team!

10. Air Roll to Recover

Have you ever fallen from the sky and landed on your back? Or maybe you crashed into a wall and flopped to the ground while flailing? It can take a few seconds to flip back onto your wheels and regain your speed—and those seconds can be precious when the enemy is primed to shoot on your goal, or the ball is bouncing in front of theirs. Simply hold the Air Roll button while you’re in the air (by default, it’s the same button as Powerslide) and you can rotate your car so that you land on your wheels!

11. Avoid Retreating With Reverse

You’re driving toward the opposing goal but the ball gets sent streaming over your head. It happens! But instead of backing up with reverse, you’re better off keeping your speed and turning around—just make sure to use Powerslide to make your turn as quickly as possible. There’s so much more you can do to shoot or save when driving forward rather than driving backward, so reversing should be used only as a last resort when you’re in a tight spot or when you just want to move back a few feet.

12. No Designated Goalies

Unlike most sports, Rocket League isn’t conducive to players keeping set positions. There are no designated strikers, no designated guards, no designated goalies. Use Tips #6, #7, and #8 above to decide what your best play is at any given moment. If you find yourself sitting in the goal all match long, you’re hampering the potential of your team! Get out there when your team is on the offensive, and fall back when you’re feeling pressured by the opposing team.

13. Toggle Ball Cam to See More

Sometimes you actually want to drive away from the ball—for example, the ball is at the opposing goal but you want to fall back to collect a Boost orb. When Ball Cam is on, it can be hard to see where you’re driving because the camera is looking straight at the ball. This is when Ball Cam toggling comes in handy, and all you have to do is tap the Toggle Ball Cam button. Toggle it off, do what you want to do, then toggle it back on.

Note: It can be helpful to bump the Camera Swivel Speed setting up to max so you can “instantly” switch between camera modes.

14. Practice in Free Play Mode

Free Play mode is an excellent way to build muscle memory as a Rocket League player. For newer players, it’s a great way to get used to driving the car around, learning the nuances of jump, and mastering the Powerslide. As you get better, Free Play is great for hitting the ball around, mastering the Powershot, improving your aim, and just getting a feel for how your car’s impact affects the ball. And later on, it’s good for learning how to control your car via aerials.

15. Keep Playing and Don’t Give Up

Rocket League qualifies as an “easy to play, hard to master” game. It’ll take many matches before you start to get comfortable with driving, jumping, hitting, and saving—but don’t give up! Because once you cross a certain threshold where things finally click, the game opens up and you’ll have way more fun than you ever thought you would. I reached that point around 10 hours in, and I almost gave up a few times along the way. But now? Not a day goes by without me playing a few Rocket League matches!

I started as a low Silver player, but with these tips under my belt, it wasn’t long before I crossed into Gold and then Platinum. Keep at it and you’ll start ranking up too! In the meantime, if you find yourself getting frustrated, check out our tips for how to stop being a sore loser at competitive games.

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