I was recently asked about my training regiment, and how I practice playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Though I’ve played many titles in the past, this is the current one that I am focused on. I wanted to take this time to share with you an example of my training.
I’m not going to dig deep into all of my tournament placings and moments. So treat this as an informal post if you will.
I have been steadily proving myself in my region, now placing top 3 in our weekly tournaments for the last 3 weeks in a row. Without too much context, let’s just say I’ve surprised a few people. (Even myself at times lol)
I don’t have an abundance of time to practice these days, so I have to make my practice really count. Sometimes I will only get an hour or 30 minutes a week. This time constraint has driven me to name what I do, “Precise Practice”.
The example that I am going to use here is probably my most recognizable display of improvement. During my sets in tournaments, I have a tendency to flip a switch in my brain. It’s almost like a record button. So when I finish a win or a loss, I can replay specific aspects of the match in my brain. To solidify my perceptions, I also ask for feedback very often.
After the second tournament that I went too, going 1-2 and then 2-2, the main feedback that aligned with my mental recording was my inability to close out stocks. Particularly at very reasonable kill percentages. I would always out play my opponent until they were way passed the point, lets say 160% before I would get a kill, and it was usually with a back throw.
To me, that creates a very precise feedback loop. So instead of just playing more as a form of practice, I decided to make a strategy.
The first thing I did was focus on my strengths. I was able to out play my opponents, and gain leads. When trying to form a new skill or cement a new habit, you don’t want to weaken the foundation you’ve already built. So, I made sure not to focus on that aspect and instead focus primarily on the feedback. “Get kills earlier”. But how?
The truth is, I didn’t know. I watched some higher level players, and didn’t learn much from the replays. So here’s what I came up with:
First I decided how long I was going to spend practicing this. 30 min. That made my brain as well as my focus razor sharp for the specific learning opportunity. Second, I set my goal. I’m going to close out a stock 30% below the back throw threshold. Third, I made the rules. Don’t lose neutral (That’s your strength), don’t use back throw, and don’t deviate from the goal just to win(it’s okay to lose).
After that, I reviewed the replays, saw what opportunities I could capitalize on, and reflected. I went to the tournament that same night, and gained two additional wins. In those matches I was not only able to get kills without back throw, but I was also able to get kills way earlier than normal. Sometimes at 50%.
The idea behind Precise Practice is that you are able to put yourself in an environment that is free from results outside of your main point of improvement. You work within your time constraints, and you put forth active focus into your matches. You’re not just letting the long session of play warmly wash over you, blurring your ability to reflect on improvement. Or worse, worrying about winning and losing and letting that force you into old habits.
It also exposes your brain to critical problem solving throughout your entire practice. You have to create ways to reach your goal, and that gives you a different perspective on how you react to opportunities in game. Opening the door for new options. It almost happens naturally as long as you abide by your own rules.
When it all comes together, the mixture of your strength, and your newly formed behavior, the results speak for themselves.
Give this method a try. Bring precision to your practice. It doesn’t matter what game or type of game you play. Set yourself to a time limit and focus 100% on exactly what you need to work on. No matter how big or small. Seek the feedback and apply it.
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