Excessive rolling is the number one bad habit new players develop, here's why you should break this tendency and how to punish others for it

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • January 11, 2019 at 7:01 p.m. PST

Recalling an earlier time in my life, I remember thinking that rolling was some sort of "advanced technique" while playing Super Smash Bros. 64. This prompted me to excessively use this option as much as I possibly could, thinking that it was a great strategy.

Often I would keep rolling to the left or right of an opponent until they committed to something that I would then punish them for. Eventually I was punished by a down smash for doing this. It had never once occurred to me before that down smashes could counter this behavior.

Since then, rolling has actually been improved from Super Smash Bros. 64 and Melee. That is to say, the amount of time required to roll before being allowed to perform the next action is shorter in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. 4, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Despite this, excessively rolling — or "For Glory rolls" as they were called during Smash 4's life span — is a habit that needs to be broken immediately. Any decent player who gets a read on your defensive habits will use it as an opportunity to score some free damage against you. In high stakes situations, you will lose stocks and games for a badly timed roll.

First off, it needs to be understood that rolls have a start up period and recovery time. During these time frames, your character does not benefit from having invincibility.

In fact, fighters are only invincible for about half the duration of the roll action. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, backwards rolls have been made to be intentionally worse than forward rolls.

Roll Frame Data in Smash Ultimate image #1
Click images for larger versions

Introduced in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the roll staling effect. As you overuse this option, your future rolls will lose invincibility and gain recovery. In other words, the developers went out of their way to let players know that this isn't meant to be an option to move around with.

In many situations where series newcomers roll, much of the same thing can be accomplished by dashing or jumping. You should not be trying to move across the stage with rolling. Remember that in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, any action can be performed out of a run.

Does this mean you should eliminate rolling entirely? It's worth mentioning that even the best players in the world need to utilize rolls in high stakes matches.

The key here is to eliminate rolling habits, not necessarily rolling altogether. The easiest way to identity your own rolling habits is to learn how to punish other people's rolling tendencies.

I mentioned earlier that a single down smash was what opened my eyes to my habit. This does not necessarily mean that down smashes are optimal for this type of punish.

While these usually hit fairly hard, these attacks are fairly committal. If your read was off, then you'll be left open for a counter attack. These should be reserved for the hardest of reads.

Instead, try to occupy the space where the opponent's roll will take them if they go for their panic option. You can do this by dashing back and forth or with well-timed short hops.

It's very important that you react to the opponent rolling while pressuring them rather than just blindly throwing out smashes in hopes of catching them. If you're having difficulties dealing with rolling, then it might mean you're rushing in too heavily.

Attacks that really linger or have a lot of active frames are particularly good at this. Aerials in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also usually have low recovery if you should land with them.

Consider the win condition of the Super Smash Bros. series for a moment. The goal is typically to launch the opponent towards one of the four blast zones.

This means that staying by the ledge will position you closer to the left or right blast zones. As a result, most players tend to want to roll towards the center of the stage. Corner them and watch their tendencies.

Limit the opponent's options by taking control of the stage. If you notice that they try to roll the other direction in order to throw you off, then you can still catch them if you push forward. Remember that rolling backwards has more recovery than the forward version so you should be able to catch them with the right option.

This will take some practice, but there's no need to let yourself get discouraged if punishing rolls is initially difficult. This is probably one of the most important steps towards improving.

Roll frame data image source: Smash Wiki.

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