Basic Tech Skill Guide

MookieRah

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#1
I was revamping an earlier guide for my group in Umeå and decided to share this to the smashboards now that it is more complete. This is a guide for the basics of Melee tech skill. While the order might not be perfect, it's good enough for players to go by and use to advance their game. All of this stuff should be mastered in order to be ready for tournament play.
This quick guide assumes no prior knowledge of competitive smash terms.

1: Short hopping - Lightly tap the jump button (or if you have insane finesse the control stick) to short hop.

2: Learn to fast fall - Pressing down after you reach the highest point of your jump will cause your character to fall quicker. This is used for several situations, shffling (I'll touch on this later), adjusting your spacing to continue combos, mixing up your fall speed to get out of a combo, etc.

3: Tilts - Learn to perform all of your characters tilts on command. Up tilt (aka utilt, or lightly tapping up and pressing A) is generally considered the hardest. Some characters can angle their ftilts upwards and downwards, and this is an important skill to learn as well.

4: Turn-around Tilts - Turn around tilts are performing the same tilts as above, except you turn around first. This is something many new players don't realise as being important, but it's quite a crucial basic skill.

5: Using c-stick for aerials - You can use the c-stick to perform all of your aerial A attacks except for nair (aka neutral air, or jump + A). This is important for spacing, as using the control stick will cause your character to move slightly in the direction you attack (if horizontal), possibly cause you to tap jump (if up), or accidentally fast fall (if down).

6: Shield Grabbing - If you press A while holding shield you can perform a grab. You can block several attacks in the game with shield and have enough time to grab your opponent before they are able to react. This most commonly occurs when a player misses their l-cancel, are poorly spaced, or simply used a laggy move in an inappropriate situation.

7: L-canceling - Pressing L right before you land an aerial attack will speed up the landing lag of the attack. This is a very important tech skill, and should be mastered. Once you get the basics down, practice l-canceling against a Bowser with handicap on max and your handicap on the lowest setting. This simulates hitting your opponents shield, which requires a different timing.

8: Double jumping from ledge - Once your character has grabbed the ledge, you have the option to drop from the ledge by pressing back or down. If performed correctly you can jump back on the stage and even have enough time to perform an aerial attack. Simply jumping back on the stage is often better than the basic ledge get up options that you have.

9: Teching - Whenever you are in a tumble animation (after taking damage in the air and a character flails around) you can "tech" on any surface you contact right before you hit it by pressing L or R. This allows your character to perform a quick flip to their feet, or the option to roll left or right. The timing for pressing L or R is very lenient, and is not too difficult. As mentioned, you can tech on any surface you contact. You can tech the ledge, wall, or any platform. If you tech from a wall it's known as wall teching. If you hold up or a jump button when you wall tech you can even wall jump out of it.

10: Shffling - Combining short hopping, fast falling, and l-canceling is powerful. It is known as Shffling. To perform a Shffl'ed attack, short hop an aerial, fast fall, and l-cancel. This allows for quick, low height, low lag, aerial attacks on your opponent. Use with caution though, because if you mindlessly shffl and opponent they can easily shield grab you.

11: Falling through platforms - A player can fall through a platform if they are holding down when they would normally land on the platform; however, they cannot drop through a platform if they are in any part of an aerial attack animation. Learning to use platforms to your advantage is a major part of smash, and this is the first step in ledge mastery. Learning the timing to delay an aerial until after you have passed through the platform is a crucial, often overlooked, basic skill.

12: Survival DI - This is probably one of the most important skills on this list. DI is a process, and is very hard for most players to get in the habit of, but the sooner you start the better you will be as a player. For the purposes of this guide, DI is simply one's ability to control their trajectory when they are hit by pressing a direction on the control stick. For survival DI, you want to hold the direction perpendicular to the direction the attack sends you.

For example, if an attack would send you purely horizontal, you should hold up in order to survive it best. You can play with how survival DI works by using proximity mines in practice mode. This is a good way to learn how to DI.

A lot of new players don't understand when to use survival DI. The easiest way to learn when to input survival DI is to be very aware of your own actions rather than your opponents. Whenever you miss with a laggy attack, get put in a bad position, or just in general feel very threatened that a big attack is coming your way, that is generally the time to input survival DI.

13: Dash dancing - Dash dancing is when you dash back in forth in your dash animation. For clarification, your dash animation is the first part of your run. If you hold a direction for too long you enter your run animation, and you are not able to quickly change direction. This is a very important movement skill to master. It is important that you learn how to dash dance in a variety of controlled ways. Learn the maximum distance of your dash and do max length dash dances. Learn to do very tight, rapid dash dances. A good way to practice precision is to go to Pokemon Stadium and use the markings on the ground as a guide.

14: Out of shield options (OoS) - When you have your shield up, you have more options than spot dodging (pressing down) or rolling (pressing left or right in shield). As covered by shield grabbing, you can grab out of shield, but you can also jump out of shield. This means you can perform any aerial attack (even a shffl'ed attack) from shield. Keep in mind that there is a time and place for every OoS option, and that none are truly obsolete. Experiment with all your options to learn what is appropriate for a given situation.

15: Wave dashing - When you air dodge into the stage, your character will slide. Performing this purposefully and quickly is known as a wavedash. Most characters benefit from wavedashing, even if their wavedash doesn't seem very impressive. This is a vital movement skill, and should be mastered by all players (even if you are a Jigglypuff main). It is important to note that wavedashing is an OoS option.

To perform a perfect wavedash you must be as close to the ground as possible without being in a landing frame while airdodging in the right angle. Adjusting the angle of the air dodge can alter the length of the wavedash. It is important to know that you can wavedash on any flat horizontal surface. Wavedashing onto platforms or right before you land on the ground is known as wavelanding.

16: Learn basic character specific tech - Each character tends to have their own tricks that only they can do. It's very important to learn all of them, but as a beginner player be sure to start with the most basic tech and work your way up.




This covers almost all (if not all) basic tech in smash. From here you should have a very good foundation to work from. Here are a few tips and tricks for learning tech skill:

1: Don't get ahead of yourself. Master the basics before moving onto higher end stuff. You will find that tech skill builds on itself. The more you learn to use your hands, the easier the harder stuff is to learn. Experienced players tend to pick up tech skill very quickly in large part due to the fact that they are so accustomed to existing, similar melee tech. By sticking with the basics first, you set yourself a good pace to learn the game, and your time invested in learning tech is spent in a wiser manner.

2: Practice things slow. Lots of studies show that your body learns muscle memory by simply going through the motions. Try performing a tech skill in practice mode under a slower speed to get a feel for it, and when you have a very high success rate with that trick, speed it up to the next level until you can perform it in normal speed.

3: Practice only a few things at a time. I try not to juggle more than three things at any one time. There is no point in partially mastering 10 things when you could have truly mastered 3 or 4. The sooner you master a technique in practice, the sooner you can try using it in real matches and learn how to use it appropriately.

4: If you don't have much time or patience, practice in short bursts. You will be amazed at how much 5 minutes can do when learning tech. Even if you don't seem to get much out of it during that practice time, you will usually see improvement the next time you play/practice.

5: Stay motivated. A lot of tech practice can be boring, but you have to stick with it if you want to improve. If you need to, mix in a little bit of practice against lvl 7 computers in between your tech training to relieve the monotony and to work on implementing the tech you have already mastered.
 

MookieRah

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#4
you can also practice survival DI by setting motion sensor bombs or bob-ombs down and running into them
I will add this to the DI section. I should have mentioned this in my original post. This is really good for teaching a player how to DI, and to understand DI, but this still doesn't teach someone when to DI, which is something that a lot of people don't really know.

For example: I used to think that survival DI was all about being vigilant while observing your opponent and being aware of what they were capable of doing and predicting their attacks. I'm sure one can do just that (combo DI is very similar to that but not really), but when I shifted focus to inputting DI in those "oh ****" moments, my survival DI improved drastically.

1) do not fight CPUs and try to learn anything. CPUs play nothing like real people and will teach you very little.
You can actually learn a lot by playing against CPUs actually. I learned a lot of things since coming to Sweden by just focussing on specific elements of play and using CPUs. As long as the goal isn't to beat the CPU, but to learn a particular skill, the gains from practicing with a CPU will outweigh any negative habits learned from playing them. I got the basics of survival DI with the method I just mentioned by playing against lvl 7 computers while practicing other things. I also got in the habit of using my other OoS options against CPUs, as I had a really bad habit of rolling too much.

Computers are really good for learning how to implement tech at a basic level after you have learned how to do them in practice mode. It's a good way to get in the habit of using tech, in a less stressful way. It simulates a real match more than the practice mode ever could. Granted, if you have the luxury of practicing with another player on specific things that is obviously better, but so few players have access to someone willing to work with them like that.

Also, M2K.
 

SleepyK

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#5
yeah i should probnaby word that a little better but so many new players think that they'll be good if they can beat level 9s
 

Bones0

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#7
1. C-stick cannot perform all of your aerial attacks (nair).
2. Specify that you should only use the light press for L-cancels (or Z).
3. I would clarify that the angle your airdodge at and your proximity to the ground determine how far your WD goes. Also, I'd add in wavelanding since it's basically the same thing, just higher off the ground or while coming down from the air.
 

MookieRah

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#8
3. I would clarify that the angle your airdodge at and your proximity to the ground determine how far your WD goes. Also, I'd add in wavelanding since it's basically the same thing, just higher off the ground or while coming down from the air.
I'll add that in. I didn't include wavelanding in the original version because I sorta saw it as the next level up in tech, but I should at least mention it. I also want this to be as compact as possible so it's easy to digest for beginners. I think I'll go through this later rewriting it to be as simple and clear as possible, but adding spoiler tags for more advanced applications or explanations of the techniques.
 

Blother

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#10
This is great to see all of the basic skills laid out in such a simple manner. It really makes it easy to see what I need to focus on in practicing. I also like the order you put them in. You start with more of the basic movement techniques that teach players how to control their character better, then move towards more complex offensive and defensive techniques and then end with the mind game sort of skills.
 

Crawfish

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#11
Is there any specific reason to use both l and r for wave dash OoS because I think I already got used to using just l.
 

SAUS

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#12
Might be sending some new friends here. They were kind of out of the loop in terms of people who play melee so when I showed up and was beating them easily 2v1, they were inspired to get good at the game. They mostly know ABOUT the advanced techniques but they don't use most of them in-game and some of them they don't even know how to do.
 

felikx

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#16
I think it's confusing that you only mentioned the L-button to L-cancel. The "L" just stands for "lag". You can use both of the sheild buttons as well as the grab button to L-cancel. Maybe you want to include this in your guide?

Is there any specific reason to use both l and r for wave dash OoS because I think I already got used to using just l.
the reason many people use one of the sheild buttons to "shield" and the other one to wavedash OoS is that it requires faster hands to let go of, say, R and immediately press it again to wavedash. many find it more useful to let go of R and immediately press L. personally I don't use the L button at all ^^
 
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#17
As someone who is practicing for his first tournament in a little more than a month, I thank you for these beginner tips. They will definitely give me a much faster transition from casual to competitive play.

Let's just see how committed I'll be, especially with the 'take it slow' part of that, though. >___>
 
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#18
Anyone have any tips on how to consistently short hop? I can nail SHFFL'd Nairs with Sheik over half the time in Training Mode but once I'm in a real match I really struggle with keeping my Y button presses light.
 

Rarik

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#19
Practice more. Practice until you can do it 30+ times in a row without messing up. Over half of the time without any pressure is more like 1/10th of the time in a real match. Ok that number was made up, but obviously you're way less consistent in an actual match than when you're in training mode without pressure. Practicing in the middle of a match also works so you get used to doing things under pressure.
 

MookieRah

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#21
I can nail SHFFL'd Nairs with Sheik over half the time in Training Mode but once I'm in a real match I really struggle with keeping my Y button presses light.
Once you master something in practice mode you can often refine it a bit more against computers (I stick to level 7 comps). They help a lot in this case because when you would need to perform the new tech you learned based on situations that simulate a real match more. It's a much easier journey from mastering tech against computers to mastering it against players than from going straight from training mode into the real deal.

For example: I can shield drop > aerial really easy with a few warm ups in training mode, but I still don't have the best consistency using it in matches against real people. Practicing this with a comp helps because, unlike training mode, my CPU opponent is applying pressure on me to perform it at a precise time.
 
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#22
This actually gives me a question. Is there any reason that Level 7 CPU's are recommended over any other? I could guess to not recommend Level 9 because of its uncanny ability to perfect-shield, but is it anything in Level 7 CPU's that makes it ideal to practice against?

This might seem like a stupid question, but I really don't know the answer.
 

MookieRah

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#23
I thought I posted this in the thread, but it looks like I didn't.

The main reason to train against lvl 7 computers is that their DI is sorta random. This is good, because they don't operate on a reoccurring pattern, which would lead to bad habits. That is not to say there are plenty of bad habits you could pick up from playing computers, but from recent experience I can say that there is A LOT that most players can learn from proper practice with CPUs that many don't expect is possible, to the point that it's worth to pick up a few bad habits if it means a lot of overall improvements.

Besides, weeding out bad habits is an important skill. As the meta changes and as you play different people, being able to adapt quickly is very important.
 

grandpappy

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#24
Sweet! This is really helpful! I've been looking for a decent resource for learning all the tech skills since I've been trying to get to a competitive level, and I've been pretty unsuccessful until now (most of the youtubes about it are pretty bad unless I just haven't found the right ones).

I've been having issues with wavedashing. I can waveland from a full hop like 80% of the time, but when I go for the wavedash I just can't get that timing down. If it does happen, it's random. I'm just wondering if there's any tips that make practicing WD easier. I figure I could practice it with time slowed down, but then I would be afraid that when I go back to a normal speed that the timing will be different. Would slowing down help anyway? I know you talked about muscle memory. Maybe if I started slow and gradually upped the speed until I got it down?

Also, what are the practical uses of WD'ing? Is it just for general movement? Is it used for approaches? Are there times when I should and should not be WD'ing? Thanks guys!
 

Crawfish

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#25
I've been having issues with wavedashing. I can waveland from a full hop like 80% of the time, but when I go for the wavedash I just can't get that timing down.
Also, what are the practical uses of WD'ing? Is it just for general movement? Is it used for approaches? Are there times when I should and should not be WD'ing? Thanks guys!
are you getting it too late? or too early. if you do it right, your character shouldn't make their air dodge grunt sound thing, only their jump sound. if too early you wont dodge at all, if too late you hear air dodge sound. and if your trying to do it with different characters, know that all characters have a different timing for wavedashing. try wavedashing with bowser, then try with fox. they are different.
but most important, practice, a lot. and in training mode so cpu doesn't bother you at first, once you get better then try with someone trying to hit you. but just Practice. you won't get it right away but you will eventually.

practical uses would be tech chasing, spacing and throwing off your opponent,
you can also wavedash out of shield which can be very helpful. say you get hit by a f smash in shield, you get sent back a little, far enough to keep the opponent safe from a counter grab. you can just wavedash back to the opponent and then grab, or whatever you want to do.

movement is important too, but don't get too carried away with it. just like with dash dancing, if you sit there and wave dash back and fourth for no reason, the opponent can just, hit you. be smart with it, crappy example, run up to opponent, make them attack, wavedash back, punish. again, crappy example.

another good thing about WD is you can do all your standing attacks out of it. up, forward and down tilt, up, forward and down smash, and jabs. so it gives you more options, new approaches.
sorry if my help is faulty, someone please correct me if i'm wrong(probably am) just wanna help though.
 

dRevan64

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#26
It's not very useful to delay the input for wavedashing. What helped me learn way back when was m2k's chart of what frame every character leaves the ground after inputting jump–basically, for any given character, you jump and airdodge simultaneously, but you need to hold down the trigger longer on characters that take longer to leave the ground because the game reads the input on the frame you leave the ground and not before. That's how I got used to it. So Fox will be fairly easy to WD with since it's a very brief input and bowser will be very annoying to WD with.

Its applications are pretty simple: it's a movement option, so it's about putting yourself in a place you want to be to do what you want to do. If you know how long it takes your character to wavedash and how far you go you can use it to escape pressure, apply pressure, follow up on combos, bait out whiffs, etc. Crawfish basically had the idea but like any movement option it's reasonably situational–and more importantly it's a much larger commitment than a dash dance any given direction, but you have more immediate options out of it and you can do it out of shield.
 

grandpappy

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#27
Thanks guys, I think I understand it better now. Very helpful info.

What helped me learn way back when was m2k's chart of what frame every character leaves the ground after inputting jump–basically, for any given character, you jump and airdodge simultaneously, but you need to hold down the trigger longer on characters that take longer to leave the ground because the game reads the input on the frame you leave the ground and not before. That's how I got used to it.
^ This especially will help me I think. This seems like the way that I need to think about it. I'm sure I'll get it down now!
 

Twilight Emblem

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#29
I've got a question about tech skill. Say you're doing it fine normally but there are consistency issues when its applied against another player. In this situation is it likely that you've missed out on understanding a small part of applying this tech skill that will only be learned if you break down the situation where its messing up and come up with an answer? Aka analyze the mistakes and focus on the why and come up with an answer
Or is it better to treat this situation like something like learning to ride a bike. Where you don't micro manage the mistakes in the learning process and just keep doing it over and over until one day boom its just something you can do?
 

Rarik

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#30
If by consistency you mean actual inputs and performing the tech itself rather than using it in the wrong situation, then your issue is most likely not being able to deal with the pressure of an actual opponent properly. In which case you should try to practice specific techs mid match until you feel comfortable with it. The first approach you suggested does work for when you're using tech inappropriately instead of just messing up inputs.
 

MookieRah

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#32
Would it be too much for me to ask this to be stickied? I think this is a fairly important resource for new players and will likely not be something that goes out of date for a long time.
 
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#33
As an entry level competitive player I also think this should be stickied.

This is literally the perfect thread for those that are looking to learn basic tech skill. If a new player asked me what they should start working on I'd direct them to this thread.
 

MegamanX20100

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#34
I third this request. It's already helped me a lot in the 1-2 weeks I've practiced using this. This is a great way for casuals to transition to competition (as is my case; although, I am better than casual-level, if my friends have anything to say for it. XD).
 
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