So you’ve downloaded Rocket League. You’ve played a few games, been involved in a few six-car pileups, and it’s basically the best thing ever, but you’re also pretty sure it’s a collection of random goals and unexpected demolitions.
I’m here to reassure you that there is order amidst the chaos. These tips won’t help you hit circus shots off the walls while flying through the air for bicycle hits. For that, you’ll just have to practice. But they will help nudge you in the right direction so you can be in the right place at the right time when your teammates need you most.
This is a beginner’s guide to Rocket League. These are simple strategies and fundamentals that will help you contribute to a team that wins more than it loses.
Make your opponents beat you
Success in Rocket League hinges on one very basic idea. You want to minimize your own mistakes while capitalizing on the mistakes of your opponent. If you can do that, you’ll score goals, rack up assists, and come through with plenty of saves that swing the balance of the game.
More to the point, you only want your opponents to score when they do something spectacular, not when you do something dumb. Sometimes a player will blast a perfect shot that bounces off the wall into the top right corner of the net. That’s when you tip your cap and move on.
But if that’s what it takes to beat you then you’re doing something right. Opponents will often struggle to score goals when you’re not doing it for them, and you can use that knowledge to your advantage.
Position is key
While it can be surprisingly difficult to score when you’re trying, it’s paradoxically easy to score an own goal if you’re not being careful. That’s why good positioning is essential. If you can keep your car between the ball and your own goal, you’ll disrupt your opponents and deflect balls away from the goal instead of into it.
You’ll also deflect the occasional shot directly into the opponent’s net. It’s incremental, but those outcomes do become more frequent when your play is more consistent.
Never send the ball towards your own net
You’ll see this a lot with Rookies and AI players. They’ll take a bad angle on the ball and instead of laying off to let another player make a clearance, they’ll compound the mistake by pushing the ball in the wrong direction. It usually results in an own goal or a tap-in for the other team.
There are exceptions (there are always exceptions), but sending the ball backwards generally makes things worse. You want to direct the ball either to the sides or towards the opposing team’s goal. If you can’t do either, it’s often better to do nothing. You may leave an opponent with a shot, but you’re forcing them to make those shots and that won’t happen as often as you’d expect.
Crash the Box
Rocket League is a lot like soccer. Good things will happen if you keep sending the ball into the box. You want to center from the corners while your teammates make runs, applying steady pressure to increase the likelihood that one of your opponents will do something wrong. Keep crashing the box and you can be there to bury the tap-in once something inevitably shakes loose.
Spacing, spacing, spacing
You do not need to be involved in every single play. I can’t stress that enough. There’s nothing more obnoxious than a teammate who repeatedly knocks you off the ball when you have a better angle and forces you to adjust your game because they’re out of position.
You need to give your teammates some space. Someone has to play defense and someone has to be there to receive a pass over the middle, and any strategy you want to implement will be compromised if you stay too close together. You’ll also be less effective individually because no one can get a clean hit if you’re all rolling on each other’s tread.
At the very least, you want to avoid scenarios in which all three teammates are piled up in the same spot, leaving your team vulnerable for counterattacks and cheap goals from ordinary clearances. If there are already two teammates fighting for the ball, stay back and let them sort it out. You’ll be there to make a run or make a save once while dealing with the fallout.
Play the ball, not the player
Bumping into the opponent can occasionally be quite effective. It takes them off their line and interrupts the timing of their shots. If you can’t make a play on the ball, preventing someone else from doing so is the next best option.
However, there are still two more opponents waiting to punish you in the event that you do take out another player. That’s why you should never go after a player to the exclusion of the ball. Clearances and centers are more important than demolitions, so challenge for the ball at every opportunity.
This seems obvious, but you’ll be amazed at how often it gets overlooked, especially during faceoffs. It’s incredibly frustrating when you give up two-second goal after a faceoff simply because no one was there to stop it.
Pay attention to the distribution of players at the start of the game. If you’re the only one back, it’s your responsibility to stay back because you’re the only player with the ability to do so.
Trust your teammates
Rocket League is a team game, so you won’t do all that well if you try to handle everything yourself. Trust your teammates. Learn to recognize basic roles like offense, defense, and support. Those roles can change rapidly during a match, but if you adjust your play based on the conditions on the field, you’ll ensure that your team is able to respond to any given situation.
It may not sound glamorous – and it may not make you an all-star – these basic tips will shore up your game and help you come out ahead against a disorganized side. Steady, consistent play will lead to goals, assists, and saves, and you can be confident that you’re increasing your team’s chances of winning every time you take the field.