Excessive rolling is a trap most new players will fall into in Smash; here's why you need to moderate your rolling and utilize other movement options

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • April 17, 2017 at 1:18 p.m. PDT

So I've been playing the Smash Bros. series since the 64 days. I remember early on thinking that rolling was some sort of "advanced technique" back then and often utilized it as much as possible, but I've gotten a little wiser since then.

The best way to think of rolling is as a high risk, occasionally high reward technique. Don't get me wrong though, rolling is better in Smash 4 than it has ever been compared to the rest of the series - but it still carries an extremely high risk if used improperly.

Here's an experience I had over a year ago in a For Glory match (but still occasionally have it even today). I ran into a (nameless) player that preferred rolling as their primary defensive option.

In a single particular match, take note of what my opponent was doing before losing each stock. Many players refer to this playstyle as "For Glory Rolling."

Click images for animated versions

Very early into the match, I was able to notice that he had a habit of rolling as his primary (basically only) defensive option. This was a habit I knew I'd be able to take advantage of.

In the first clip, I feinted a jump towards him then threw a fully charged Sun Salutation towards him. This was enough to cover a roll forward, a roll backwards, and a spot dodge.

As for his second stock, you see me anticipating his roll and punishing it with a (pseudo) combo. This brought him from 49% to 104%.

Afterwards, this forced him to land in a very awkward position in which I was able to punish with a forward smash to finish off the game.

The idea I'm trying to get across here is that rolling can't always be your first go-to defensive option. Spot dodging also carries its own set of risks which is pretty similar to the risks that rolling carries.

Against most characters, your shield option is only countered by grabs. Sitting in shield is one option but that's also pretty risky if your opponent's character has lengthy grab combos.

Keep moving through walking, running, and jumping into the air. In particular, short hops are a good option to recenter yourself against the opponent (note that this is also how I kept catching his rolls).

It's important to note that you can jump out of your shield while still holding the shield button. This tends to be better in most situations than just simply letting go of the shield button (most of the time, but not always).

The goal here isn't to completely remove rolling from your gameplay, but to use it in moderation. It should be your last line of defense, not your first.

Even the best players in the world will roll from time to time. One of the many things that makes them pros is that they mostly use dashing and short-hopping as their movement options.

Next time you play a match, try to pay attention how often you roll and see if you can cut down on it a little. It's extremely important than you explore your other movement options to develop fundamentals in this game.

Do you want to see more Smash tutorials in the future? Let me know in the comments below.


ijuka said on April 17, 2017 at 2:10 p.m.

True for melee, not for smash 4. The higher input latency combined with rolls having 7-10 less frames of recovery than in melee means that in smash 4, rolling often is very safe and most top players essentially spam roll.

AdaptiveTrigger said on April 17, 2017 at 2:17 p.m.

It's a lot safer compared to Melee, but I've been punishing rolls and winning games because of those punishes for the couple of years it's been out.

rlt4life said on April 17, 2017 at 2:32 p.m.

Definitely used to be guilty of this, but its a habit i was eventually able to break out of. I can punish most roll spammers with the greatest of ease now.

thf24 said on April 17, 2017 at 2:39 p.m.

Another thing is that it's much closer to the top of the list of good movement options due to the overall fewer number of movement options in Smash 4 compared to Melee.

Velanovania said on April 17, 2017 at 3:17 p.m.

Its still not safe, its still a bad habit a lot of new players rely. You can roll a lot more than say, Melee, but you shouldn't *just spam it". You still need to mix it up with other movement and escape options. If you rely soley on roll you're donezo, which is the point of this article.

ijuka said on April 17, 2017 at 5:31 p.m.

If straight up spammed it's punishable, yes, but you essentially need to predict it. If the player uses it often but not all the time, it's very difficult. And, again, I refer to pro games where many players spam rolls. These are top tournament players vs top tournament players.

ijuka said on April 17, 2017 at 5:33 p.m.

Roll is almost strictly better than spot dodge. In fact, spot dodging is when I most commonly get punished.

Switching up the direction you roll as well as the timing is enough of a mix up most of the time. Yes, you can't just hold R down and roll constantly without getting punished, but you can do it ridiculously often anyway. It's strange that so many argue against me when top professional tournament gameplay sides with me.

That_guy_who_plays_DOA said on April 17, 2017 at 7:09 p.m.

That's an opinion that you're stating as fact. In my opinion, M2K, Zero, Ally, Nairo, and all tbe other names dunk on predictable movement options.

grass said on April 17, 2017 at 7:42 p.m.

that's a nice article indeed,new smashers will be pleased

AdaptiveTrigger said on April 17, 2017 at 10:13 p.m.

I stated that the goal of this isn't to remove rolling from your gameplay entirely, but to use it in moderation.

One thing I intentionally neglected to mention is that for some characters, rolling can be a legitimate tactic. Meta Knight, for example, has a really good roll so you will see players use it often.

Understand the target audience and purpose of the article. The idea is to help players eliminate a common bad habit. It's the first article of more to come, so this is one of the most basic concepts.

lyubit said on April 18, 2017 at 7:23 a.m.

I suppose you could make a comparison to other fighting games to help people understand: rolling is a little bit like jumping in traditional fighting games. Jump too often and you're gonna eat something much worse than if you had just walked forward and blocked as soon as you saw a reaction.

It's by no means a perfect comparison, but it's similar in the sense that it's a bad habit that only works up to a certain skill level of opponent. "Roll Less" in smash, "Jump Less" in street fighter, "Oh my god what are you doing you better have a really good reason for jumping there" in Virtua Fighter.

AdaptiveTrigger said on April 18, 2017 at 8:13 a.m.

I had this comparison in my mind but decided at the last minute not to mention it since it may not make sense to everybody.

XykesUnderOath said on April 18, 2017 at 8:46 a.m.

Sad thing is, rolls have been improved so much in this game its almost impossible to discourage your opponent from rolling, outside extremely high level play.

The developers don't want you to explore other movement options.

The developers want you to roll.

Velanovania said on April 18, 2017 at 8:53 a.m.

Smash will always be for the casual audience first, and with much more noticeable horde of competitive players in Smash, making rolls safer is a good thing.

That being said there's plenty of movement tech and options available that the Smash team either intentionally put in or left in. If you're a casual player and dont care about getting better, then sure, roll. If you're a hard core player and want to get better then explore these options.

AdaptiveTrigger said on April 18, 2017 at 10:56 a.m.

From my own experience, it's not too difficult to punish rolls. I do it all the time.

AdaptiveTrigger said on April 18, 2017 at 11:16 a.m.

So, I had plans for a different lesson on my next article of this type, but I think maybe my next lesson will be on conditioning your opponent and predicting their rolls.

Runic_SSB said on April 18, 2017 at 4:18 p.m.

ITT: Melee players act like they know more about Smash 4 than Smash 4 players. In other news, the sky is blue.


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