Welcome to Part 1 of the Daily Esports Rocket League Ranked Guide. In this series, we will be listing the key offensive and defensive skills we believe players should be investing their time into in order to reach the next ranked tier. In Part 1, we focus on ranking up from Gold to Platinum.
Defending from your front post is a great way to be ready to challenge any striking or centering play that your opponent may try from the corner. You can act as the first line of defense while also blocking the most immediate angle on the net if they decide to shoot.
The front post defender above is in the perfect position to half-volley any low ground passes or aerial to block any high passes, so try to position yourself here while you’re playing defense. The key to being an effective front post defender is to block any passes before they reach your front post.
Following on from front post positioning are wall clears. If your opponent tries to center the ball from the corner, you should start to challenge them early to prevent any passes before they reach your goal area.
To clear like this, you will need to become confident with hitting the ball hard and fast while driving on the wall. Hitting the ball head on while boosting is more than enough; there is no need to jump or flip into this challenge. Just work on solid accurate hits to remove the danger.
A high percentage of goals in Rocket League are conceded when defenders can’t get back in time to make a save. This happens in Gold ranks mostly because too many players will overcommit into challenges upfield and then they’re too low on boost get back into defense.
Supersonic is the quickest speed you can get to without boosting. The simplest way to get to supersonic when you’re out of boost or have no momentum is by flipping three times in a row while driving forward.
Use this technique to get back to the goal in a pinch. It’s also useful for navigating the pitch quickly while saving your boost until you really need it. Just be careful not to flip too excessively. Front-flips throw you much farther forward than usual while you’re moving at high speeds.
Below Platinum, most players hesitate to aerial up to the ball when it’s mid-air. They will usually wait for the ball to fall down before committing to a challenge, out of fear of missing it. By hesitating like this, they allow the opponents more time to take advantage and shoot.
Work on your single jump aerial saves using the in-game training pack Goalie: All-Star difficulty.
How to do it:
1. Line yourself up with the incoming ball.
2. Jump and lean back.
3. Boost up into the air while directing your car with the left stick (or WSAD).
Start out by just trying to block the ball with any part of your car. Then push yourself to meet the ball earlier and higher in the air. As you get more accurate, try to make contact with the ball using only the front of the car. This help to build your accuracy and also hits the ball harder.
The power clear is the defensive term for a half-volley. They’re also known as bounce clears because of when a player should strike the ball. A well-placed power clear will send the ball far and high. It can also turn any defensive situation into a counterattack, as most players in Gold aren’t ready to contest these high clears.
How to do it:
1. Aim to strike a falling ball head on.
2. Boost in your run-up to meet the ball.
3. Jump and front-flip into the ball directly after its bounce.
It’s important to start learning the half-volley technique as soon as possible. It’s a fundamental skill that’s used throughout all of the higher ranks.
New Rocket League players should learn the pop-up shot (or pop-shot) as soon as possible in order to put more controlled shots on net. The opportunity to use it will come from poor ground saves good or passes from your team-mates.
How to do it:
1. Drive towards a ball rolling towards you at a low speed. The ball will pop up and forwards after contact.
2. Keep driving forward while watching the ball pop up. You ideally want the ball at cross-bar height.
3. Single jump and boost up to the ball.
4. Front flip into the ball to make contact and strike the ball on net.
The pop-shot is mostly useful for placing a shot over defenders who were expecting a ground shot. It will cause trouble for goalkeepers as a well-timed pop-shot will hit the upper half of the net at close range.
The power shot is like the power clear; they’re useful for speed, height, and distance. If you can hit these reliably, you’ll be able to take great shots from even behind the halfway line. All you need is the ball to be falling or bouncing and some boost.
How to do it:
1. Drive towards a ball that is falling or bouncing. Use the ball’s ground indicator to predict where it will bounce.
2. Boost as you’re nearing the bounce. When the ball bounces, jump and aim to hit the middle of the ball.
3. Front-flip into the ball to make contact and take your shot.
We’re essentially performing a power clear but adjusting the point of contact to reduce the overall height of the shot. They can be hard to time at first, and mistiming the shot can lead to poor and predictable ground shots or really high shots off target, so be sure to practice.
A scooping shot is useful for players who are chasing the ball upfield and if the ball is rolling off-target. This technique allows that player to re-take control and turn this into an opportunity on net.
How to do it:
1. Push the ball upfield or catch up with it.
2. Turn to get along the side of the ball opposite of the goal. You want to be close, but don’t make contact.
3. Nearing the opponent’s goal area, boost and turn into the ball to face the goal. The ball will start to lift and ramp up the side of your car.
4. Side-flip into the lifting ball as it nears the top of your car.
When timed correctly, the side-flip will redirect the ball back on target and throw it over any defenders who were expecting a low shot. The speed, lift, and sudden change of angle on the ball makes this shot hard save for any defenders at this rank.
The hook shot is maybe the most favored ground shot in Rocket League. It’s effective even at the highest ranks, so it’s best to start learning it now. It will help you capitalize on any shot where you’ve been given enough free space to set it up and you’ve got a reasonable amount of boost.
How to do it:
1. Push the ball upfield or match its speed.
2. Turn away from the ball and get some distance.
3. Start boosting and arc your turn back into the ball. You ideally want to get supersonic speed before making contact with it.
4. Aim to hit the ball with the front of your car.
Once you’ve struck the ball you should slow down and don’t commit to another shot. If your hook shot happens to be off target, your opponents will try to use the momentum of its bounce to start an attack of their own. Be prepared to be defensive. It may seem a high-risk shot to attempt at first, but a well-timed and powerful hook shot that’s on target is very difficult for any keeper to save.
We highly advise you spend time learning to connect the arcing run-up to the ball at different speeds in free play. Missing the ball on the run-up will allow for the defenders to take immediate possession.
After you are familiar with the half-volley, you should work on your playmaking skills by learning to backboard pass. This method of passing is superior to centering from the corner of the pitch because defenders will not yet be capable of intercepting them well. They’re useful for pulling keepers out of the net and forcing bad saves out of those who do try to block them.
How to do it:
1. Half-volley the ball, but aim to make contact more underneath rather than in its front. This is to give the ball a higher trajectory rather than speed. Striking the ball without using boost will also reduce the speed.
2. The pass will bounce off the backboard and down into the area in front of your opponent’s goal.
Like with hook shots, when the ball bounces off the backboard, more capable opponents will try to use the bounce to set up their own counterattack. Leave the follow-up shot to a teammate while you think about defense.
These mechanics were chosen to expand your Rocket League shot variety and make you a more reliable defender in the Gold rank. The aim is to increase the number of opportunities you can finish while reducing the amount you concede to. All together, they are essential skills required to rank up to Platinum. We advise that you practice these skills in casual or custom training packs (PC only) before you try them in ranked.
Platinum Offense: B0D4-C97D-2B56-8CB4
Platinum Defense: 5A5C-1E8E-487D-4807
Once you’re in Platinum, your games will start to require more aerial skills (fast-aerial), better situational awareness (rotations), and building up the pressure needed to break down your opponents. All these skills and more will be covered in part 2 of our Rocket League Rank Guide: Diamond.
Ellis (Llexis) Lane is a writer and developer from Birmingham, UK. If he’s not currently playing Rocket League you’ll be able to find him talking about it on twitter.