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Learning Marth Tips for Beginners


Smash Cadet
Jun 10, 2003
Super Smash Brothers Melee (SSBM) is hard. And it's hard to get started. I've read a lot of guides and tips. A lot of the info is very helpful. But I think most of it is way too advanced for most players.

I'm not very good at SSBM, but I think most people are probably a lot worse. No offense. I've played games from a young age, I've played a lot of games, I've played a large amount, and I've been very very good at some games. And I started playing Smash before SSBM came out. Not very well, but I've been familiar with Smash for a long time, and followed it much more closely than most fans.

I've been practicing SSBM. Mostly tech skill, alone. I like the game, I like understanding how it works, I like seeing how hard it is and facing a challenge, and I like having a better understanding of what the pros I watch in tournaments are doing, what it's like for them.

I have figured out some ways to practice that are more basic than are usually taught, and I think they could really help people. For example, people say to practice Marth's SH (short hop) double fair (forward air attack). But I can't do that. It's really hard. To some people, it's just the basics. But to me, it's an advanced skill that's going to take a lot of work. My hands have sped up a lot from practice, but I still have a long way to go to SH double fair.

So how do you work your way up? What's in between nothing and SH double fair? My main point in this post is to show you how to break down a technique, like SH double fair, into a bunch of intermediate steps you can practice one by one. Even something pretty simple can be divided into a lot of different things to practice, instead of just being all-or-nothing.

Part 1: SH Double Fair

- SH

Start with SH alone. To SH, just hit jump and let go fast (before you're in the air). Don't feel bad if you suck at it. I would stand there and hit jump and do nothing else, and Marth would full hop. It took me a ton of practice just to SH. Actually, first I learned to SH Peach, who has an easier one than Marth. Marth is 3 frames, Peach is 4, Fox is 2. Almost all the characters are in one of those three categories. If you have trouble, practice with a 4 frame SH character first. Here's the list of how many frames each character has for short hopping (smaller numbers are harder, meaning you have to let go of jump faster).

One of the cool things I found is, after I practiced Marth's SH a lot, even when I still wasn't very good at it, then when I went back to Peach she became easy. And then once I practiced Sheik's 2 frame SH, and went back to Marth, then Marth felt easier. But you can't move up too early, just starting with Sheik wouldn't have done me any good if I can never get it at all.

- SH While Distracted

As an aside, let me say that being able to stand still and do a SH, and being able to do it while playing the game against an opponent, are different things. As one example, once you can SH ok, try to run forward and SH. You'll miss some because of the distraction. Once you get better at that, try shield stop SHs. That means you dash forward, then very quickly hit shield, then very quickly after that, short hop. Even once I was good at SHing in place, I couldn't do shield stop SHs without some practice. Learning to link together the things you practice makes them harder.

The point is, don't get frustrated if you thought you could SH, but then you try to do SH and something else, and suddenly you can't SH. It's going to happen. It's no big deal, you just need more practice until your ability to SH is less barely and more solid.

- SH Nair

Once you can SH, try to SH Nair (neutral air attack, meaning A with no direction). Hit jump then A. You'll probably miss some SHs from trying to hit A also. Don't worry, practice, you can learn this.

Now to the main point: if you jump and then hit A fast enough, you will land without going into a recovery animation from the nair. The best way to see this is get the 20xx Hack Pack and turn on the flashing red and white for failed and successful L cancels. If you SH nair and you hit A slowly, you will see Marth flash red. If you do it fast enough, Marth will not flash any color.

When I started, I couldn't do this. Marth would flash red. Maybe I could get it 10% of the time. But, again, you practice and you get better. This is a hell of a lot easier than SH double fair. It's a smaller step forward. This will get your hands faster while being a smaller and more achievable goal.

- SH Fair

Next, try to SH fair. If you do this quickly, Marth won't flash red. You have to be a little faster than with SH nair. (If you don't have 20xx hack pack, you'll have to try to watch Marth and visibly see the difference between whether he does his recovery animation from landing during fair, or not. Which is a skill that takes practice. You can learn it early if you have to, but I'd really recommend getting the 20xx pack.)

- SH Uair

Next, try to SH uair (up air attack). Again, you'll have to be a little faster. You'll also have to learn to press the dstick (directional stick, the joystick used for moving) lightly so you don't double jump.

- SH Bair

If you can go even faster, you can do a SH bair (back air) with Marth and land without flashing red. If you do it successfully, Marth will turn around (so this one is easy to tell if you succeeded even without the 20xx Hack Pack).

- C Stick

Then go back through and practice all of these using the cstick (the little yellow joystick) instead of A. (Except not nair, you can't nair with cstick). Again this makes it harder. But it's possible, and with practice your hands will get faster. (As I write this, I can just barely bair with c-stick on a small percentage of attempts. And one really interesting thing I noticed is I can do it a lot easier to the left than the right. After hitting jump, I can press cstick left faster than right. The only reason I can tell the difference is because when doing the SH bairs, that tiny difference actually affected my results because I was so borderline on being able to do it at all. I think that's pretty cool to find that out, and gives me useful information, and potentially something to practice. For example, once I can start to do some SH double fairs with cstick, I'll have to practice to the left first which will be easier so I can have success sooner. And once I can do that a little, I'll have to practice to the right also. Doing it to the left first will be a little easier, another step I can practice before doing it to the right.)

- SH, Fair, Double Jump

Next, try to short hop fair, then as soon as you start the fair, start mashing jump. If you're fast enough, you'll double jump instead of landing. You can also try to learn to press jump at the right timing instead of mashing.

Once you can do that (I can only do it 10% of the time as I write this), try to SH fair with cstick and then get the double jump (I can't do that yet).

- FH Double Fair

Practice doing full hops and then doing fair twice. The point here is to learn the timing for how soon you can do the second fair after the first one. It's not something that's hard, but you do need to practice and learn that timing. Practicing it separately will be helpful. You should also practice other aerials this way just to learn really accurately when you can do a second one. Learning how long your moves last is important and worth practicing for each move individually.

- SH Double Fair

Then, finally, after you progress through all those steps, you can work on SH double fair. That means you do a SH, then you do fair twice before you land. To succeed at this, you need to do the first fair extremely fast after jumping, even faster than any of the things you practiced above. Then you have to do the second fair with good timing as soon as it's possible.

To do a SH double fair correctly, you need to be 6 frames faster than SH, fair, double jump. Fair can hit the opponent on the 4th frame through the 7th frame. Double jump comes out in 1 frame (I think). So suppose you SH, fair, and then you double jump on your last frame in the air. To do a second fair instead, you'd need to be 6 frames faster so you'd have 7 frames of airtime left instead of 1. Then you'd be able to replace the double jump with the second fair and have enough time for it to fully complete the part of the move that can hit the opponent.
The point here isn't just to teach you to SH double fair with Marth. The bigger point is to show you how to practice things step by step and work your way up, a little at a time. Instead of failing to SH double fair over and over, it's better to gradually start with something a lot easier and then keep progressing to slightly harder things. It's a lot more fun to practice when you're learning new things, successfully, as you go along.

Whatever you want to learn, for whatever character, try to figure out a series of small steps that can help you build up to it. Commonly people recommend pressing the buttons slowly at first and then speeding up. That is great advice but there's other ways to practice too.

All the information in this post, I basically had to figure out myself (except the frame data). No one told me to try practicing bairs fast enough I would turn around. But I find it really helpful as an intermediate step. I hope some Marths find this helpful, and also everyone understands the method of creating a gradual progression of small steps to practice. Most melee training information doesn't cover little things this basic, like I never ever heard anyone say "practice doing SH fair fast enough you land without going into recovery from attacking", but I think it's a really useful idea. So hopefully this will encourage a lot of really new players who are struggling. By breaking things down into smaller steps like this, you'll be able to see your progress and succeed one step at a time.

Part 2: Reverse Dolphin Slash

Marth's reverse Dolphin Slash (up-B) is an important technique which people tell you to learn how to do. They're right. But I tried to do it, and I couldn't. There are a couple key things I figured out that really helped. I want to share them.

The inputs are simple. You do up-B, and then during the startup frames (a very small time window), you press left (if you were facing to the right). This press to the left has to be done very fast. I won't discuss why this technique is useful, other people have done that. I just want to talk about how to do it.

Also, just to be clear, you can face right and hold up-left, and then hit B, and you will do the Dolphin Slash behind you and turn around. None of the information I've read is really clear about this, but I'm pretty sure reverse Dolphin Slash is different and requires doing it the hard way of up-B first and then press behind you second, separately.

At first I thought the problem is that my hands are slow. I'll just try it more and try to do it super fast, and then hopefully I'll get it. Well, I didn't get it. I went in Training Mode and tried in slow motion to make sure I was doing the inputs right. It worked. But at regular speed I was hopeless.

Then one day, I had a thought. You know what would save time? Don't push the dstick all the way up.

So I tried doing up-B, all by itself, without pressing the dstick all the way. And I found you only have to press it a tiny bit further than for up-tilt, but really not very far. Only a fraction of the way up is far enough.

The main reason I couldn't do it is because I was pressing the dstick all the way up, then pressing it to the side. And that takes too long. Maybe if you play in tournaments and you're really good, you could press it all the way up and still be fast enough. But I sure can't.

Well, once I had this insight, I was able to do reverse Dolphin Slash successfully about half the time in only 10 minutes of practice.

But I didn't just start doing it. I practiced an intermediate step that I think was a really good idea. If any guide had told me to practice it this way, it would have really helped me.

Press the dstick up half way. Hold it there. Now if you hit B, you will Dolphin Slash. Try it. So now instead of pressing up-B for dolphin slash, you start with half the work done, you just have to press B. Now do this: press B then, almost at the same time, press left (if facing right. press behind you).

When I just tried to hit up-B then left, it was so hard, I couldn't do it. But when I held up and then tried to hit B and left, it was so much easier, I could do it pretty much right away. It's not that hard to do one thing with your right thumb and one with your jump thumb, and do them very close together. Doing two things with your left thumb and something with your right, and coordinating the timing, that's hard. But only one thing with each thumb isn't too hard.

So practice that a bunch and you can learn the timing of when to hit left relative to when to hit B. Without a bunch of stress and failure. You can learn part of the technique by itself without having to be able to do the whole thing.

Once you're good at that, then practice the dstick motion without B. Press it up only a little of the way, definitely not all the way up, and then jam it left hard and quick. And practice it to the right also.

When that feels OK, then try another small step. Press up a little ways, pause for a split second, then press B and left. So it's like doing it with up already pressed, but instead of just holding up and not thinking about it, you do the up press only a moment early, so it isn't totally separate.

Once you can do that, then try to do the whole thing. And because of all the little steps you did, I bet you'll be able to do it sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes. And once you can do something 5% of the time, then you have a good start and you just practice more and increase that percent. Whereas if you can't do it at all, it's hard to get started and you'll need some easier steps.

So you press up a little ways and B, and then hard left. It won't work every time. You'll get some neutral B (Shield Breaker) and some side B (Sword Dance) at first. But now you should have a good enough idea of how to do it that you can practice until you get it consistent. These little steps to work up to it will get your foot in the door and make the technique approachable.

Again, I'd like you to learn not just how to reverse Dolphin Slash, but also how to approach learning anything that's hard to get started with. This is both a specific example that will help Marth players, but also it's about the method of how to learn.

Part 3: Buttons

How should you hold your controller? A lot of people say this is a matter of taste. I agree it's OK to do whatever you want and get used to it. However, I'm going to give you guidance for a good approach. If you're in doubt, try it this way. It makes sense. What I recommend you try is holding your right index finger on the Z button, not on the R trigger. This will give you faster and easier access to Z for grabs. You can put your right middle finger on R and learn to use it if you want, or just don't use it. You can use L for everything and never use R. Some top players such as PPMD and PewPewU do this (L for everything), but if you want to get used to using R for a few things with your middle finger that's OK too. So that's my recommendation: index finger permanently on Z so you can grab easier, and then that means you use L mostly or exclusively instead of R.

What about X vs Y? Both are fine. Really. But if you have no idea which to use, even after you try both a significant amount, and you really want guidance, then use X. X seems to be more popular with good players (such as PPMD, Leffen, and Westballz). And I find X slightly easier to press quickly (I can shorthop with X slightly better). Hitting X with the bottom of my thumb where there's a hard part feels a bit better to me than using Y with the tip. I actually practiced both a lot because I prefer Y with Peach who I've played a lot (because you need to hold jump to float with Peach, and I think it's easier and more comfortable to hit A with my thumb while holding Y than X with that same thumb.) In general I personally like learning things pretty well all the different ways you can do it which are good and reasonable (not dumb), so I can see what it's like.

Don't tap your dstick up to jump. Learn to jump with X or Y. This applies to most characters in the game, and definitely Marth. (One exception is I believe Hungrybox plays Jigglypuff using Z and and dstick jump, rather than X/Y/A. Jigglypuff is an unusual character though.)

This one is really important and I don't think it's a matter of opinion for Marth or most characters. Jump with X or Y, don't press up on dstick.

For aerial attacks, it's generally recommended to learn to use the cstick. This has several advantages. It lets you attack forward while moving backwards, or the opposite. It lets you do a dair with no chance of fast falling. It lets you do an uair with no chance of doing your second jump by accident. Personally I've been learning to do things both with A and cstick, and I'd recommend trying both. The advantages with A are you have to use it for nair, and it's easier to do your attack faster with A because it's closer. One thing I didn't mention is using Z for aerial attacks. If you aren't a Jigglypuff, you probably shouldn't do that. But I don't know a ton about it. Try it if you want to. This issue is much more of a matter of opinion than using X/Y to jump.

Learn to use cstick for doing smashes. You don't absolutely have to, but give it a try. It can prevent accidents where you get a tilt when you meant to smash, and it will prevent accidentally charging your smash for a few frames. If you take Marth and do a fsmash with the A button, watch carefully and you'll probably see him flash for just the briefest moment. That's Marth charging his smash and it's delaying your attack. If you use the cstick, that won't happen. It's also easier to do smashes with the cstick when your dstick is busy doing something else, e.g. if you wanted to wavedash forward and fsmash, that'd be easier using the cstick. You don't have to use cstick for every smash, there's some room for taste here, but you should get comfortable with it. Use dstick + A for smashes when you want to charge your smash. (You can charge smashes with cstick + Z if you didn't know, but I do not recommend it.)

For L-cancelling, you only have to press L (or R) the amount required to light shield. Pressing it lightly can help you avoid having your shield come out afterwards from letting go too slowly (which is very common when you're newer). You can also do rolls and spot dodges with a light press. Note, however, you do need to press L (or R) all the way in (so it clicks) for airdodging (including wavedashing) and for teching.

Part 4: Simple Things To Practice

Let's talk about some simple Marth things to practice which will help you learn to combine one move into another, and which I haven't seen talked about a ton elsewhere because they're pretty basic. I'll go over each briefly. Note that everywhere I mention wavedashing, hold off on that until after you learned wavedashing by itself. (I might talk about wavedashing in a future part, but like SHFFL a lot of other people have written about how to do it, I wanted to focus more on covering things people might not have read elsewhere.)

utilt, dtilt

practice doing utilt and dtilt from just standing still (with dstick in the middle), and make sure you can do them fast without getting usmash, dsmash, jab or jump. (If you're struggling, try moving the dstick to different places and holding it there and then hitting A and seeing where it needs to be to get a tilt attack instead of a jab.)


Try turning around (if you're facing left, tap right to turn to face right) then doing a utilt immediately. In general, once you're good at any technique, trying doing a turnaround first then doing the technique immediately. It's good to get some practice being able to quickly turn around at any time, without messing up your other button presses.

dtilt -> dtilt -> jab

Marth's down tilt attack (hold down then hit A) has a long animation, but you can interrupt it part way through. This is called IASA frames, meaning Interrupt As Soon As. A lot of moves have a couple IASA frames, but dtilt can be interrupted 29 frames early (almost half a second, there are 60 frames in a second).

Learn the timing for how soon you can do a second dtilt after the first one. And learn the timing for when you can do a jab after a dtilt. (Jab means hitting A by itself while standing on the ground, your most basic attack.)

dtilt -> dash or wavedash

It's also a good idea to practice doing a movement option after dtilt. This actually applies to most things in the game. Practice doing it then moving immediately afterwards. For example, do a standing grab, then dash backwards as soon as possible. Learn the frames on that. Or do any type of aerial attack and dash or waveland afterwards. (A waveland means airdodging into the ground right before you land. You can do this diagonally so you slide, usually away from your opponent, or straight down just to land faster. But I'd recommend you don't start trying wavelands until after you can wavedash.)

dash -> JC grab

If you dash and then hit Z, you'll do a dashing grab. It's inferior to the regular grab when you're just standing still, because it has 10 extra frames of lag on the end (recovery time when Marth can't do anything). The hitbox is also different, which is better in some ways and worse in others. For some characters, but not Marth, the dash grab also comes out slower.

The solution is called a jump cancel grab. Press jump

dtilt -> walk grab and/or jc grab

After you dtilt, you cannot just grab (Z). This actually applies to crouching in general. While standing up from a crouch, you can interrupt with a lot of moves such as jab or forward smash.

One way to solve this is hold forward lightly right after you dtilt. Then as soon as dtilt is interruptable, Marth will instantly stand up and be walking forward. Then you can grab. (Don't run forward or you'll get a dash grab which is inferior because it has a longer wait time before you can do something else afterwards.)

Another way is a jump cancel grab. You press jump, then you press grab before you're in the air. This will cancel your crouch standup and let you grab immediately.

The advantage of the jc grab is you won't walk forward, and you also won't accidentally dash forward. The downside is if you do it too early, before Marth can act, then nothing would happen (or if the jump is early, but the Z press for grab isn't, then you'd get a jab). With the walk grab, you can wait until you see Marth walking then hit grab, but if you do this by watching the screen and reacting you'll be slower than if you just memorize the timing.

side-B -> uptilt

What I found is you can do side-B, then while it's happening move the dstick up before the uptilt, then learn the timing of when you can hit A (you have to wait a little bit). This is easier than trying to do the side-B, wait, and then hit up and A at the same time.

dash -> dtilt

dash forward, then press down to cancel your run (only works once you go far enough so you're running instead of in the initial dash), then A for dtilt. Get a feel for this and learn the range on it, and the closest you can do it from where you start. PPMD talked about this on his stream and PPU talks about dash range and dash vs run at his PewPewUniversity. Thanks a lot to them, their stuff is very helpful, and I'd definitely recommend their Twitch streams and the PewPewUniversity playlist videos.

dash -> shield stop -> SH nair -> dash

If you've learned to SH nair, then start learning to do things before and after. A good example is dash forward, hit shield (this stops your moment – thanks to PPU for explaining this technique at PewPewUniversity), then SH, nair, and then when you land do a dash. If you find this hard (no problem), just remove steps. Add them in one at a time.

wavedash -> fsmash, grab, dash, jab, utilt

The rest is only after you can wavedash. I want to talk about some simple ways to build on that and add to it. It takes practice to go from wavedashing by itself to wavedashing before or after some other move and chaining different actions together.

So after you learn to wavedash, you'll want to learn to do different things immediately after it, such as dashing or jabbing or utilt.

The big thing here is you need clean wavedashes: your shield can't be popping up. If you try to wavedash fsmash but you hold shield too long, you'll roll instead of fsmash. Note I think you want to do this fsmash with cstick.

For wavedash grab, you can use Z or you can keep holding the L (or R) from the airdodge and hit A. Z is probably a better idea overall, but holding L and hitting A is easier because you don't have to worry about letting go of L fast.

dash forward -> wavedash back

You should also learn to do different things before wavedashing, such as dashing or shielding. Or even just try doing a standing grab then wavedash back, or jab or utilt then wavedash back, anything.

wavedash -> dtilt

When I first tried to do this, I didn't do it very well. What I found worked better for me is to stop resetting the dstick to neutral. Instead of putting it back to the center then going down, I had more success just do the wavedash, then move the dstick from down-right or down-left to down, then hit A. If you reset the dstick to neutral and you aren't fast enough, Marth will stand back up and waste time having to crouch again. If you're good, resetting dstick to neutral might be fine or even better. But if you're struggling with this technique, you can try it the easier way of moving the dstick directly from diagonal-down to down.
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Smash Rookie
Nov 23, 2014
Since you didn't mention SHFFL's I'll go ahead and share how i learned to SHFFL since i used a similar method of breaking it down into individual parts. For any new players struggling with SHFFL's try giving this method a shot.

Every day when I would warm up I would go through this routine:
  1. 10 consecutive shorthops.
  2. 10 consecutive fastfalled shorthops.
  3. 10 consecutive fastfalled shorthop aerials.
  4. 10 consecutive SHFFL aerials (typically alternating randomly between aerials).
If i failed any of these steps I would move back to the previous step. For example, If i was on step 4 and missed a SHFFL air I would move back to step 3, If i failed again on step 3 i would go back to step 2 and so on. I did this every day before i warmed up until i was able to consistently get through this routine without any mistakes.

I think something a lot of newer players overlook is that SHFFL'ing is not a single technique, it is an assortment of techniques combined into one motion. I have seen new players that struggle to shorthop consistently sitting in training mode trying to SHFFL over and over again and making very little progress. You are not going to be able to consistently SHFFL if you can't consistently do a SHFF air, you are not going to be able to consistently SHFF air if you can't consistently do plain shorthop fastfalls, and so on. You need to keep in mind that SHFFL'ing consists of several smaller parts and without grasping those smaller parts individually you will struggle to combine them.


Smash Cadet
Jun 10, 2003
Yeah that makes a lot of sense about SHFFLing, I agree.

Another important thing for SHFFL, once you start to be able to do is, is if you hit someone for 6 damage, that's going to create I think 5 frames of hitstun (and more damage = more frames), so your L-cancel will probably miss if you don't adjust the timing. So it's important to practice doing it vs a level 1 computer. Or preferably get 20xx hack pack, make the computer stand there shielding with infinite shields, then practice SHFFL while your attacks are hitting the computer's shield so you can learn the difference.

It's also a good idea to try L-cancelling full hop and double jump aeriels, so you learn to do it by seeing your character approach the ground instead of just getting used to the timing for how long after jump to hit L for your character's short hop.


Smash Rookie
Mar 1, 2015
Thanks for writing this. As a fairly new Marth player, this will be sure to help!


Smash Cadet
Jun 10, 2003
glad to hear it myDad

added parts 3 and 4 and some formatting
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Smash Cadet
Jun 10, 2003
i figured out how to double fair the easy way, which is good so you can get a better understanding of it when learning it other ways.

first you need to do full hop double fair and practice the timing. don't mash. just hit fair 2 times (30 frames apart is the goal). if you go too early, the 2nd fair won't come out at all. learn the timing for how early you can do the 2nd fair and have it come out without missing.

now here's how to do double fair the easy way. face left. only work to the left. press X with your thumb for short hop, then hit the c-stick to the left with the base of your thumb. instead of moving your hand down there, use the part of your hand that is already there. in this way, you can get the first fair after your jump to come out fast enough, even if you can't press buttons fast enough in the normal way. it's not that hard to actually go too fast doing this – if you hit cstick left before you're in the air, nothing happens.

with this method, if you can already short hop marth fine, you'll be doing SH double fair in no time. to the left only. it might not be the most useful thing in a match, but it lets you get a feel for what the timing has to be for it to work, and see what it looks like when done right. that's useful compared to just not being able to do it at all.

a second thing i figured out that helps here is falco auto cancel bair. it has 2 frames of leeway and falco gets in the air 1 frame slower than marth. so compared to doing a marth perfect rising fair, it's 1-2 frames easier. so practice falco SH bairs! when i started, i couldn't do any, but now i can do them reasonably well with A (like 40% of the time, but i know this will go up a lot with some more practice, no problem), so that means i must now be close to doing marth SH double fair with A (and actually did get two SH double fairs with marth with A, but mostly i still can't do it).

the best way to practice falco auto cancel bair is with 20xx pack, so it will flash red for missed L cancel if you miss it (do the bair too slow). otherwise you'd have to learn to watch the animation and see how you landed.

you can also do falco auto cancel bair with the base of thumb on c-stick method (left only) which is pretty easy. btw it hurts my hand to do this :( i guess i'll get used to it. but it doesn't work for going to the right anyway so maybe it's just good to see what a fast enough timing is like.
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Smash Cadet
Jun 10, 2003
i've been practicing wavedashing. a few quick tips for practicing it:

count how many you take to go from one side of the stage to the other. then try to get across in fewer wavedashes. try to get max length wavedashes. (marth can go accross FD in around 5 wavedashes)

try luigi cuz he has the longest wavedash by far. if you're having trouble, it'll give you a better idea of what wavedashing is like.

do not practice wavedashes with peach if you're new because her floating ability can mess it up easily. if you're hitting downward for the airdodge before hitting L, it'll make you float.

wavedashing timing is dependent on how long it takes a character to jump in the air. you want to do the airdodge 1 frame sooner for fox than marth. and peach or falco is a frame later than marth.

if your marth jumps in the air a lot when you want to wavedash, that means you're hitting the airdodge too early. one way to try to work on this is you can try wavedashing falco. then you'll jump in the air even more from being early on the airdodge, since falco's airdodge timing is later. but if you practice falco for 10 minutes, you'll get more used to doing the airdodge later. then when you go back to marth, you won't jump when you meant to wavedash as much.

the optimal angle for a full length wave dash (which is what you want most of the time. not always but this is the main one to practice) is 17 degrees below left or right. NOT 45 degrees below (which would be the diagonal down notch). the optimal angle is actually closer to straight left/right than to the diagonal down midway notch. optimal is almost 2/3 of the way up from the diagonal-down notch.

to get a feel for the optimal wavedash angle, keep going more horizontal until you start getting some airdodges directly left/right. you want to airdodge the closest to left/right you can without actually going left/right.

you should probably understand how the angles work in melee for airdodges, fox up B, and a bunch of other stuff. this is a picture of all possible angles (thanks ajp_anton). see the big gaps around left/right/up/down? that whole big white area goes to straight up/left/right/down. but then once you get far enough away (more than 17 degrees away) then there's tons of angles every tiny bit you move the stick. so it's not possible to airdodge 5 degrees below left. because they made it so perfect main directions would be easy by making every angle near left count as perfect left.

another thing is you want to do wavedashes backwards to make sure you don't turn around. practice getting them clean without turning around.

and a bigger issue than turning around is shielding. you don't want your shield to pop up even for a split second. suppose you are marth and want to wavedash and forward smash. if your shield pops up even for a split second, then when you do the cstick to fsmash, you will roll instead. which is really bad, that's a big difference from your intended action to what happens. whatever your character is, you should practice doing wavedash + any smash and try to make sure you aren't shielding at all and the smash actually comes out. (at first though, don't even bother, you will easily see the shield pop up all the time. then once you think you aren't shielding half the time, then start trying to do smashes).


Smash Cadet
Jun 10, 2003
i found that falco auto cancel bair is a good one to practice. if you get the auto cancel, then it's 2 frames more lenient going from jump to attack than an optimal marth rising fair. (falco jumps 1 frame slower, and the auto cancel on his bair has 1 frame of leniency).

for marth double fair, you also should practice full jump double fair so you can learn the timing.

double fair is hard cuz u have to hit the rising fair really fast AND then time the second fair well. and if you do it wrong, it's not obvious which part you did wrong.

you can basically practice the 2 parts separately with falco bair and marth full jump double fair.

something else i figured out is for wave dash out of shield using only L. if you let go of L before you hit jump, sometimes you don't jump at all. letting go of shield puts you in a few frames of lag during which your jump input gets ignored. a correct wavedash out of shield means you need to jump while still holding shield, THEN, AFTER THAT, let go of shield and do the airdodge. it's pretty easy to mess up and do it wrong at first by letting go of L too early to avoid the problem of doing the airdodge way too late.

the main trick to it that i found is you only need to let go of L part way. you know when you press it hard and it clicks? just unclick it and click it again for the airdodge. don't let the button go all the way out to fully unpressed. it just has to move a tiny bit.

also to wavedash out of shield easier, i guess you could release L slightly before jump, so it isn't clicked but is still pressed. so you'd be doing like 80% hard shield instead of 100% hardest. or like you could start doing that at the same time you go to press jump, instead of waiting until after. as long as you don't fully release shield, you won't cause the problem of triggering the animation where you stop shielding.


Smash Cadet
Jun 10, 2003
i've been trying to jump to the top platform, waveland, slide off, then waveland on the side platform and slide off back to center stage.

i've had a lot of trouble with it. and i just figured out what i was doing wrong.

the trick is:

if you are going backwards, you slide off platforms fine. but if you are going forwards, you'll get stuck a lot on the edge, where you teeter on one foot.

if you hold forward while sliding, you will not get stuck on the edge. (you also need to make sure you're hitting L fast enough, having your shield come up will kill your speed).

another important tip is if you tumble off a platform and fall on the ground, that means your shield came up for a moment, and you slid off the platform while shielding. (you can easily see what i mean by sliding off the top platform but keep holding L on purpose from the wavedash, and you'll go tumbling. it can also happen with only a tiny bit of shielding, even if you don't see the shield).

unrelated: when doing marth dair off stage, it's important to learn the timing for when you can up-B after. mashing loses frames and it does matter. (if you try to let go of ledge, double jump and dair, then up-B back to ledge, the frame loss from mashing the up-B will make marth die a lot).
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Smash Rookie
Apr 24, 2015
I'm new to the forum though I've lurked for a very long time. I main marth for Melee and it would seem many players, myself included, have difficulty l-canceling Marth. "How do you tell the difference?" "Should you see your shield?" It doesn't seem like a big deal until you get to really working Shffl combos on fast fallers. Those extra frames can mean the difference between closing out a stock or missing your F-air and getting punished yourself. Fox doesn't need a ton of time to shine you and counter-attack.

I have discovered with many many hours of tinkering a sure-fire method to tell the difference without grabing a program like 20xx.

Simply go into a crouch before you jump. If you let the animation runs its course, Marth will end crouched with no movement. Now two other events are possible:

The first, and most likely event, is that you get your shield in an attempt to l-cancel. If I'm not mistaken that means you've held the L/R button too long. Remember you only need to tap it enough for what would otherwise be a LS to successfully l-cancel.

Second is that actual L-cancel. What you will see is Marth "double clutch" his crouch with no shield present. This will happen basically immediately upon hitting the ground.

What's interesting is it shows just how much time l-canceling really saves. Basically, it's enough time to do anything else, SH, Dash, Fsmash, grab cancel, waveland if your talented. If nothing else all of those options are infinitely better than just sitting there, waiting to get punished. As always, if your not sure what to do, dash. Given Marth's range and speed the run away to fight another day mantra is always a solid option 1v1.

Here's to hoping this practice technique helps. I know it can be difficult to shift to a different character (Link for example) to get the idea down only to have to refigure out what you're doing around Marth's timing.

Happy Smashing,



Smash Rookie
Jan 7, 2016
Just a tip about in game play when approaching try and stay grounded and go for grabs and d tilts, f tilt can be viable but don't get predictable and rising fair is alright just try to practice spacing. Good luck !
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