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Optimizing Training for Fighting Games

Are you finding yourself bogged down with work or school and not having enough time to train for fighting games? Well, there are tons of top players working full-time jobs and still making top 8’s during their off time. So, why can’t you do this too? 

To help out with this, I created a guide of sorts to help you learn to train more efficiently in a way that doesn’t cost you a lot of time while actually advancing your gameplay to new heights. All it takes is a trip to the optimization station.

Throughout the history of competitive fighting games, whether you’re a more of a Super Smash Bros or Street Fighter type of player, one thing is incredibly apparent. A lot of time needs to be put in to really reach your full potential as a competitive player. One thing that’s been repeated throughout history by just about every top player in any game is that there is no shortcut to becoming good at a fighting game, or any competitive game for that matter. This, of course, gives rise to a problem that stops a myriad of potential competitors from getting into the fighting spirit: time. 

Sadly not everyone has the time to just sit in training mode for 8 hours, nor do they have the time to devote to go to sessions offline on a regular basis. It’s a sad fact because it is completely necessary to go to these sessions and make stops in the training room to get better, but some people have other responsibilities like school, work, or other matters. What’s the best way to remedy this? Well, you’re just going to have to learn to optimize your training room time as well as your local session time.

What I mean by this is that you need to go into your next training/play session and have a set plan or purpose. To help you out with that I put together this guide of sorts to help give tips on how to optimize your fighting game learning process.

When you’re going into the training room or to play another player, don’t just play blindly. You’re going to want to go in and know exactly what you’re wanting to focus on. This means if you’re coming home from a play session where you just lost, you’re going to want to think back to that session and remember what you struggled with. Then, you can go into the training room or to your next play session knowing exactly what you want to improve. Remember, you won’t always be able to improve on this in one session, but you will bring yourself closer to meeting that goal. You can also stack this process and put skills that you’ve improved on in the back of your head while you work on others which makes this way to train even better.

Remember how we said, “You’re going to want to go in and know exactly what you’re wanting to focus on” in the last tip? Well, that goes hand in hand with the fact that you’re going to want to remember what you’re losing to. Losing is honestly the most important part of competitive gaming, as it teaches you things that you didn’t know before. You can go into the training room and run drills against whatever dogged you out earlier. This is one reason I highly recommend trying to get some kind of video recording of your matches so you can know exactly what you lost to. You can then record a training dummy to do it, and practice against it to your heart’s content.

This one comes right off the heels of learning from your losses. However, you’re going to have to remember you’re not always going to be losing to another player, but yourself as well. Whether it’s dropping a combo, mistiming, forgetting a part of a set-play sequence, or whatever else you messed up on to end up in a loss, it’s not at the end of the world. Believe that you will mess up at times and just go back to try again. After a while, muscle memory will take over and you will be able to do what you need with ease. 

While you’re going to want to constantly keep your tools sharp by going over specific drills over and over again, you’re also going to want to step out of that comfort zone. Why jump into training mode and practice the safe things you know every day when you can learn something new, something a bit more challenging that will add another tool to your arsenal? Always practice things in your comfort zone, but never forget there’s always something else to learn. 

If you’re looking to maximize your training time, you’re also going to want to take baby steps. It seems a bit backwards to take things slow, but it’ll help in the long run. For example, let’s say that there’s a combo or setup you’re trying to learn. Instead of constantly trying to do the whole thing in one go, try to break it up and learn it piece by piece. The baby steps don’t even have to just be with things like combos or setups; they can be even more basic things that will help your gameplay. This means dedicating an entire training session to simple movements such as falling through a platform and performing an instant aerial or landing into an instant run or shield. Small steps like this will turn into big strides and will make you a much better player in the long run. Just make sure you have the patience to commit to training sessions like this.

Fighting training does not mean you always have to be the one with your hands on the controller. Training can also entail simply going to Youtube or Twitch, pulling up your favorite player, and just watching what they do in a match. One mistake you don’t want to make when following this process is mindlessly watching for simple enjoyment. Instead, you should be taking notes, physical or mental, on things that you’re missing from your gameplay. Watching someone better than you play the game can really open eyes when it comes to how the game is supposed to be played. This also goes for trying to catch streams or videos where high-level players/teachers watch the matches and break down player decisions step-by-step. 

This last tip is one that is ignored a bit too much and is one more people should start taking into consideration. You need to really remember your limits. This means that you shouldn’t be always training in-game but train your mind outside as well. Everyone needs a break and that includes you, no matter what game you’re deciding to compete in. Your mind needs rest and when it comes to something as mentally taxing as competing in fighting games then that rest is heavily needed.

Bringing all these tips together you can make each training session into a more complete process while also keeping time for other matters of life. Not only will you be getting better in-game but outside of the game as well as you’ll be more well-rested and feel more accomplished as a whole. You won’t just be optimizing your training and your gameplay but also your all-around life as a whole. Just keep at it, don’t give up, and find a regimen that’s fitting for you.

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