Blinded by Goals and Improving the Quality of Practice.

I do not think I am alone in the goals I have. I am pretty sure I share very similar goals to a lot of people in the Melee community who want to improve. Goals like…

Rank #1 in the world. Rank #15 in the world. Rank #20 in the world. Ranked in San Diego. Place top 32 here, place top 32 there. Just win a local. Place Top 3 in a local. Get ranked in my region. Get ranked in my city. Win, win and win some more.

Okay, great. But how?


Only literally this week have I taken a look at the hows or whats of what it is I need to be doing to get to any of those goals, even the smaller ones like win a local, or even place top three in a local. And I’ve had those goals since mid 2015, but I have yet to achieve any. Kind of silly. I had never looked at the process that I was taking, or would tell myself I was taking, up until now. . I would kind of just turn on my Wii, play Melee by myself for an hour, watch a YouTube video of a set or two, and think that would be good enough. Sometimes I would do practice in a similar matter to what I want to be doing now, but not nearly enough or as focused as it will be in the future, which I will go into detail later on in this post.

Goals are great to have no doubt, and I do believe I am inspired by them, but I think I have been auto-piloting my improvement process or the process itself to get to the goals that I want to achieve. By just turning on the game and ‘playing’ it every now and then like I was doing for awhile, I’ll probably make no real progress toward any goal. I have been coming to a realization that I need to pay attention. Not that I need to get more serious and hard-core about the process itself and force myself to do one-thousand wave-dashes a day or analyze ten different sets in a week or stuff like that, but to actually realize what it is I need to work on to get me to where it is I want to be. The answers are basically right under my nose, and I am at the point where I can see my problems as clear as day, so what has been stopping me? Ironically, I think my big goals have.

I believe I’ve been so romantic about my goals, how cool it would be to be the best player in the world, or the best player in my city, always talking about it or day-dreaming about it that I have been too naive to actually take a look at what has been right under my nose this entire time: Specific aspects of my game that I need to practice and understand.

These are some goals related to what it is I believe I need to work on the most in my play:

  • Cut down on excess movement (My biggest most obvious problem).
  • Improve the quality of my practice.
  • Work on punish game.
  • Work on corner pressure.

(I realize that Melee is a big game and there are tons of things to work on and all that, I am just leaving it at those four things for the sake of this post).

For cutting down on excess movement, this one is most exciting since it is my most obvious one. I have had a few different peers all of varying skill levels tell me that this is my biggest thing that I need to work on. This will also be tied into corner pressure since apparently they are both related (I keep seeing myself wave-dash a bunch of times in a row when I have someone cornered, and if I work to understand positions better I want to see myself not spazz out on movement and get the job more simply).

Improving the quality of my practice will be my second biggest thing. This pretty much ties all of the concepts together. I have been very inspired recently by this awesome video:

I have been turning off my phone, laptop, and keeping the temperature in my room quite cool while I practice, making sure all of my focus is to what it is I would like to work on, usually tech skill that I feel that I am not that great in that I can for sure use in tournament. Visualizing what my ideal play would look like. How I want to be playing the game, instead of flailing around on the stage for an hour not really knowing why I am doing the inputs I am doing.

Then there is punish game. This is basically something I can practice through watching videos, solo work and friendlies. I feel I don’t need to get big into this since there are tons of resources out there to learn how to improve that. Corner pressure will be tied into cutting down on excess movement and actually learning positions/situations/focusing in a match and all that.

What is exciting to me about these goals,  is that they are actually practical things I can work on and see measurable progress and get real feedback on. They relieve a sort of pressure that I felt I was carrying by trying to become the best player in a certain amount of time. It felt like I was failing to achieve a goal (Win a local) every single Monday when I got home from a Last Stock Local, which was incredibly un-fun for me. These are things I can literally practice and see either progress being made or a lack of progress being made and actually understand why! Which is way better for me than to go “oh my god it is almost the end of the year how am I not rank #1 in the universe yet I am so driven to improve why god why???”…

Moving forward, I know that I can put in the hours. I have the drive, no doubt. Anyone can put in the hours. Realizing that it is more about the quality of the time I spend practicing has been pretty big for me. These realizations will probably not immediately propel me to the top of the game, but rather give me more clarity and satisfaction that I can measure daily.


Thank you for reading, keep competing.





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