One of the most misunderstood and frustrating plays in Rocket League is the kick-off. This is due to the possibility of conceding immediate and consecutive goals, especially in solo duels. In this Rocket League guide, we’ll be looking at how you can improve your standard kick-off approach and strategies.
The kick-off is essentially a balanced 50-50 challenge between two players. While you may think kick-offs are pure luck, every kick-off happens for a reason.
Up close, the ball is actually bouncing multiple times between the two cars. After so many bounces between the two cars, the ball eventually finds an exit path (a path of least resistance) and spills out into that direction.
It’s important that you develop your kick-off strategy if you want to play in the champion rank or higher. If you’re looking to reach champion, check out our Rocket League Guide to Champion.
First, let’s look at kick-off positions. There are five kick-off spawn positions in Rocket League: the center-back, the two off-center, and the two far sides (diagonal). Each team will always spawn in the same formation on the opposite side of the pitch.
If you’re new to Rocket League, your kick-off probably consists of driving forward, boosting as much as you can, and slamming into the ball as hard as you can. The key to a successful kick-off isn’t just speed, however. Your approach angle and impact method matters just as much.
To improve your kick-off, these are some adjustments to make in your approach.
In the clip above, you can see how the orange player’s goal-side angle prevented the ball from entering the orange side.
Apply these three points to your kick-off to make them look something like these.
Once you’re more mechanically capable in Rocket League, you can further streamline your approach to the ball with these adjustments.
You won’t always be the player who will be challenging the kick-off. In these situations, you should have a good idea of what role you’re going to play.
If you spawn in the mirror position of your team-mate, you should make your kick-off intentions clear immediately. Use quick-chat commands such as “I Got It” or “Defending…” to confirm your plans and avoid double commits.
Next, you need to decide which supporting kick-off role you’re going to use to contribute to the play.
If you’re not going for the kick-off, there are many supportive roles which you can play to contribute to the team play.
Cheating means to slowly follow behind the kick-off. The cheater will attempt to salvage possession of the ball after the initial challenge. They can choose to start a passing play or take a direct shot.
Peeling means to immediately turn to grab a full boost pad.
From the center or off-center positions, turn and boost towards the nearest corner full boost pad. From the far-side position, drive backwards, half-flip and then boost yourself towards the boost pad.
If you can’t half-flip, this mechanic is covered in our Rocket League Guide to Diamond.
It’s very risky to peel in 2v2, as your own goal will be unguarded for a few seconds. Also, resist peeling if you can see that another teammate is already preparing to do so (tip: check their wheels).
Goaltending means to not leave your goal area until the kick-off is safely over. It ensures that at least one player is ready for the worst. Most teams adopt this when they’re near to winning the match and just need to play safely for the final moments.
Below are some more advanced kick-off techniques you can also learn for teamplay scenarios.
A fast kick-off is mostly recognized from professinoal Rocket League players such as Joni “Jhzer” Humaloja. It’s useful for reaching the ball as fast as possible on the far side spawn positions.
This can be useful when you’ve noticed your opponent is on the same side of the kick-off (like above) or has been slow in their previous kick-offs. This strategy works well with a cheater taking possession of the ball after the challenge.
A fake kick-off means to fake the challenge for the ball. This is done by approaching the ball and turning away from the challenge at the last moment.
If this is done convincingly, your opponent will hit the ball directly into your half. A teammate who’s goaltending can then take possession or start a passing play.
A controlled kick-off is done best when two players can communicate their kick-off intentions. It involves making deliberate off-center contact with the ball, with still enough coverage to block the goal-side angle too. It’s done to purposely guide the ball’s exit path to a preferred side of the pitch.
In this clip, the defender communicated that they were peeling to the right. The challenger then purposely made contact to the left of the ball’s center. As the left side of the ball was being blocked, the ball pushed out to the right. The supporting player was then able to take possession of the ball after collecting the full boost pad.
If you’re consistent with your kick-off approach, you can further improve your strategy by watching your opponent’s kick-off. If you notice that your opponent will not be hitting the ball goal-side (in the center), adjust your kick-off angle to guide the ball’s exit path to your advantage. You can also use hooking and pushing to accomplish this.
These are two different ways to hit the ball on kick-off instead of a front flip. The hook and push method uses side-flips to make contact and push the ball in your desired direction. Johnnyboi_i explains this technique in depth in his 1 Simple Trick to Win More Kickoffs in Rocket League video guide.
You don’t need to wait for ranked games to be able to practice any of the kick-off approaches. By jumping into free play training, you can respawn yourself between the five starting positions and take as long as you need to perfect your kick-off.
Here are some final tips to help your kick-off strategy.
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.