An In-Depth Look At Counter Hit Setups And Throw Mixups

I am planning on making an in-dept video about frame traps and tick throws. I’ve written up a transcript which is going to pretty much be what I will say throughout the video. I think the transcript itself has a lot of useful information that people might be interested in, so I figured I would post it here. It would also be a huge help if some knowledgeable community members could fact-check it for me. Any comments or criticism is appreciated!

The raw text file can be found here:


~ edit: all instances of “frame trap” changed to “counter hit setup” to avoid confusion
~ edit: definition of counter hit setup changed to be more clear and descriptive
~ edit: various other small grammatical, spelling, and structural changes

*I am making a video explaining counter hit setups because it is a complicated subject that I have never seen explained in depth
*counter hit setups are a very important part of most fighting games, especially SSF4. Some characters can survive without them, but others depend on them
*counter hit setups take a long time to learn how to do properly
*counter hit setups are a big reason why footsies exist, and a driving force behind gameplay
*without counter hit setups, the only mixups would be high/low, left/right and chip damage.
*high/low mixups can usually be either block on reaction or prevented with anti-airs
*left/right mixups usually also stem from jumping
*chip damage isn’t always viable. Some characters don’t have a safe way of doing chip, or sometimes the life differential is too great to overcome in the remaining time.
*if you can avoid all other mixups with good defense, counter hit setups are the only reason for playing footsies and keepaway.

-What is a counter hit setup?
*a mixup that forces the oponent to guess between hitting a button and blocking
*you can counter hit setup with normals, DP’s, divekicks and even focus attacks
*some characters can make better use of counter hit setups than others
*for example Cammy can use her EX cannon strike in counter hit setups that will go over most normals, is airborne, can hit backdashes, can be used in option selects and has massive frame advantage on hit and on block

-Why do counter hit setups work?
*for a counter hit setup to be a mixup, you must be able to create an unfavorable outcome for when the opponent blocks and when they press a button
*for example, fei long can perform a counter hit setup after a blocked rekka
*if you don’t push a button after, you may miss a punish, or at very least lose screen space, chip damage and momentum
*if you do push a button, fei long can counter hit you with another rekka
*this is not a strong frametrap, since fei long wont get much damage off guessing correctly, and risks eating a big punish if the second or third rekka is blocked
*however, even just the threat of this frametrap means that the opponent has to think twice before pressing buttons after blocking a rekka

-What about throw mixups?
*the most common type of throw mixup a is a mixup between a tick throw and a counter hit setup
*a tick throw is when you throw an opponent after landing a move that gives you frame advantage
*a tick throw mixup starts when you are within throw range and have frame advantage
*tick throws allow for universal counter hit setups across the cast
*this is a mixup because the opponent must chose between attempting to defend from the throw or blocking
*if the opponent blocks, they risk getting thrown
*if the opponent defends against the throw, they risk getting counterhit or punished
*a tick throw mixup is never a “50/50” because both the attacker and the defender have much more than 2 options
*factors such as when you choose to throw or counter hit setup effect what options you can beat

-The specifics of a tick throw
*all normal throws have 3 frame startup, and the time you have to tech a throw after being hit is 6 frames
*if the opponent presses crouch tech on the frame they get thrown, up to 6 frames after they get thrown, they will tech the throw
*if the opponent presses crouch tech 1 or 2 frames before your throw hits they, they will get thrown
*if the opponent presses crouch tech 3 frames before you want your throw to hit them, they will either get thrown if they have a with 4 frame starup, or you will get hit by the if they have a with 3 frame startup
*if the opponent presses crouch tech 4 or more frames before you want your throw to hit them, you will get hit by their (assuming it is at most 4 frame startup)
*this means that the tech window for crouch teching is always 7 frames
*if the opponent is stand teching, they cannot be throw out of the startup of their throw, giving them a tech window of 9 frames
*for the purposes of this video, we will say that you have gained frame advantage because the opponent is in blockstun
*you can also gain frame advantage because the opponent is in hitstun, recovering from a move, waking up from a kockdown, or being reset from the air
*throwing an opponent as soon as they exit blockstun will reduce both tech windows to 7 frames
*throwing an opponent 2 frames after they exit blockstun will give the opponent a 9 frame window if they stand tech, a 7 frame window if they crouch tech, and will hit the opponent if they crouch tech on the first or second frame after exiting blockstun
*throwing an opponent 3 frames after they exit blockstun will not beat any additional options and give the opponent an opportunity to hit you out of your tick throw (assuming 3 frame
*therefor, it is best to throw your opponent 0-2 frames after they leave blockstun, depending on if you think they are stand teching or not
*in order to throw someone as soon as they exit block stun, you need to tick with something that is at least +2 on block

-The specifics of counter hit setups
*The idea of a counter hit setup in this case is to beat the options that tick throw does not
*to beat the earliest possible crouch or throw tech, you must leave a 2 frame gap between when the opponent leaves blockstun and when your attack hits
*to beat the latest possible crouch or throw tech, you must leave a 7 frame gap between when the opponent leave blockstun, and when your attack hits
*you must mix up the gap you leave in order to cover all of your opponent’s tech options
*a 1 frame gap is you safest counter hit setup; it cannot be beaten by crouch tech or stand tech, but it will only work if the opponent techs on the 1st or 2nd frame after they exit block stun
*note that you cannot counterhit someone out of a throw, so be prepared to confirm between hit and counterhit if necessary
*a 2 frame gap is still a very safe option; however, now trade with a first frame crouch tech (if 3 frame startup) which is usually a good thing! however, it will lose to first frame stand tech
*note that now you may need to confirm between hit, block, counterhit and trade! that’s a lot to keep track of
*a 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 frame gap can all be beaten cleanly by progressively later techs. However, this risk is necessary in order for there to be a true mixup!
*in order to cover all of the opponents tech option you need at least 4 different counter hit setups with different gaps between each to cover every tech timing
*a 1 frame gap to beat 1st and 2nd frame techs
*a 2 frame gap to beat 2nd and 3rd frame techs (also will trade with 1st frame crouch techs)
*a 3 frame gap to beat 3rd and 4th frame techs (also will trade with 2nd frame crouch techs)
*a 4 frame gap to beat 4th and 5th frame techs (also will trade with 3rd frame crouch techs)
*a 5 frame gap to beat 5th and 6th frame techs (also will trade with 4th frame crouch techs)
*a 6 frame gap to beat 6th and 7th frame techs (also will trade with 5th frame crouch techs)
*note that if your opponent is only crouch teching, mixing up between 2 and 5 frame gaps will cover almost all tech timings
*if your opponent has a 4 frame crouch short, and is only crouch teching, mixing up between 2 or 3 and 6 or 7 frame gaps will cover all tech timings

-Exploiting human limitations
*when performing a throw mixup it is important to note that human reaction times can prevent the opponent from knowing if they are in blockstun
*by the time an opponent can visually confirm that they have blocked a light attack, they have likely already been out of blockstun for several frames
*this means that if an opponent is only teching on reaction to blocking attacks, they will never be able to tech a tick throw performed 1 frame after they exit blockstun
*to counter this, many people try to predict when they will exit blockstun by teching rhythmically in anticipation of blocking light attacks
*by varying when you you perform the light attack that you want to tick throw or counter hit setup off of, you can throw off the opponents rhythm
*this can cause their predicted tech timing to be too early or too late to effectively defend from a tick throw
*you can also use some of the faster medium attacks to accomplish the same thing

-Throw mixups from outside of throw range
*the biggest problem with performing a throw mixup is getting next to the opponent while having frame advantage in the first place
*if you manage to gain frame advantage outside of throw range, you can still perform counter hit setups
*the key difference here is that the opponent can no longer stand tech since you are out of throw range
*you are often times also outside the range of most of the opponent’s faster normals, allowing you to safely leave larger gaps in your counter hit setup
*in this situation, the opponent has less of a reason to hit a button, since you cannot throw them from the range you are in
*you can, however, walk forward into throw range
*the reason an opponent would hit buttons immediately after exiting blockstun if you are out of throw range is to defend against you walking forward, rather than you throwing them
*if you are sufficiently far outside of throw range, an opponent may have time to visually confirm that you are walking forward, and only then will they attempt to tech a throw
*in this case, you can either walk into throw range before performing your counter hit setup, or walk forward then backwards to get the opponent to whiff a throw
*the technique of walking into and then out of throw range to bait a whiffed tech attempt often referred to as “the Gootecks shimmy”
*if the opponents walk speed is fast enough in comparison to yours, the opponent can also choose to walk backwards
*walking backwards can create enough space so that the opponent can stay out of throw range and avoid the mixup entirely
*a simple way to deal with backwalking is to hit the opponent with a low attack, which they cannot defend against while backwalking

-Crouch teching vs stand teching
*previously, I have discussed how stand teching effects counter hit setups and tick throws. It is a better defensive option for defending against these mixups
*stand teching gives you a bigger tech window if the opponent is not throwing you on the first frame after exiting blockstun
*stand teching not only cannot be counterhit, but will also beat any normal in range in the event of a trade
*however, frametraps are not always the best option for punishing stand techs
*stand teching opens yourself up to new mixups that would be otherwise ineffective versus a crouch teching opponent
*since stand teching requires you to stand, if the opponent does a low attack, even if it is a block string or before you have hit the tech button, you will get hit
*you are often standing for several frames before and after you actually press the tech button(s), so there is a large portion of time where you are vulnerable to low attacks
*the opponent can do a blockstring into a low attack instead of going for a counter hit setup
*this means that the opponent is taking no risk at all, while you are risking getting hit
*in addition, the opponent can walk backwards, out of throw range and then punish the lengthy recovery of a throw whiff
*again, the opponent is taking very low risk for a potentially huge reward
*some characters can counter hit setup with airborne or throw invincible moves
*for example, Cammy can use her EX cannon strike to avoid throws during counter hit setups
*this means that Cammy is no longer limited to only being able to hit a stand tech during its startup
*without the fear of being thrown, Cammy can leave a large gaps in her counter hit setup which covers all of the opponent’s tech timings!
*this effectively puts the opponent in a 50-50 mixup, if all they are willing to do is block or stand tech
*in this 50-50, the opponent has no winning options. The outcome will be one of the following:

  1. the opponent techs a throw: Cammy throws 0-2 frames after the opponent leaves blockstun, opponent techs 0-6 frames after leaving blockstun
  2. the opponent is in blockstun and Cammy is at about +14 frame advantage: Cammy leaves a 6 frame gap in her counter hit setup, opponents blocks
  3. the opponent gets thrown: Cammy throws, opponent blocks
  4. the opponent is in hitstun and Cammy is at about +16 frame advantage: Cammy leaves a 6 frame gap in her counter hit setup, opponents stand techs 0-6 frames after leaving blockstun
    *as you can see, blocking will lead to one of 2 bad situations, while teching will lead to either a neutral or terrible situation

-Reversals, backdashes, and other defensive options
*in addition to teching or blocking, every character can also backdash or use an invincible or airborne reversal
*dealing with reversals can be very difficult, and is heavily dependent on the particular matchup
*in general, a good way to deal with reversals is to simply block
*if the opponent’s reversal is quick enough, you may be able to block it if you choose to do a late counter hit setup to catch the opponent if they tech on the 6th or 7th frame after leaving blockstun
*if the opponent’s reversal is slow enough, you may be able to perform an early counter hit setup and recover in time to block the reversal
*backdashes can be beaten by option selecting the normals you use in your counter hit setups
*the most common and universal option select is to buffer a sweep behind chained jabs or shorts
*you can also perform an option select by buffering a special move behind an non-cancelable normal
*against many characters it is possible to perform early or late counter hit setups while still being able to block reversals and catch backdashes
*the timing required to do this is too strict to be able to perform consistently
*if you suspect that your opponent is going to reversal, it is best to bait it by other means. The timing of counter hit setups that are safe against reversals is very very strict
*every character can also focus backdash or jump
*jumping is almost never a good idea when trying to escape a throw mixup
*even if you jump when the opponent tries to throw you, the opponent will recover in time to block or even anti air you
*if you try to jump out of a counter hit setup, you will usually get hit out of you prejump animation and eat a full combo, or get hit out of the air and be put into another throw mixup
*jumping to avoid a throw mixup should only be used when fighting a grappler
*focus backdash is used to escape from counter hit setups and option selects
*if you have a bad backdash, the opponent can sometimes punish your backdash with normals that they are using to confirm off of their counter hit setup
*in this situation focus backdash loses to both a counter hit setup of any timing and a throw of any timing and should not be used
*this is true for every character in the corner (except oiled Hakan, that cheap bastard)

There are too many inaccuracies for me to correct right now. TBQF, I think you’re over-complicating things.

I believe the only complicated part is understanding why frametraps work, and why certain timings are the way they are. The techniques I’m suggesting for beating stuff like backdashes/crouch techs/stand techs/reversals is all stuff that has been around forever.

Firstly, your definition of a frame trap is incorrect. Technically, a frame trap is a series of two moves separated by a gap large enough for an opponent to attempt a move but too small for the move to actually reach it’s active frames. eg. Ryu’s, (on block). Anything else is basically a counter-hit setup. In SSFIV though, most people call any counter-hit setup a frame trap for the sake of brevity. However, doing something like level 1 FA, dash cancel into SRK is NOT a frame trap. That “trap” relies on the invincibility of the DP, not the gap between the moves because technically there can’t be a gap (you’re at negative frame advantage). Similarly, you can’t frame trap with a focus attack (under most conditions). If you were to allow that, then why not all armoured moves, like Boxer’s EX Overhead?

Secondly, frame traps are not complicated. You just assumed that they are (you say this in your first line). That’s the simplest indication that you are overcomplicating things.

I like most of your definition for frame trap more than mine, but in order for it to be a frame trap, I think there has to be a reason for the opponent to hit a button during that gap. For example, Dudley’s super has a gap before the last uppercut that fits your definition of a frame trap. However, there is never any reason for someone to hit a button before the last part of the uppercut, therefore there is no mixup. First and foremost I think a frame trap has to be a mixup. Your definition also implies that you cannot get a trade as a result of a frame trap, which I disagree with.

Someone intentionally leaving a 4f gap or higher in their strings against me are asking to be flashkicked.

The frametrap I had in mind when I used focus as an example would be something like DP xx level 1 focus. which even fits your definition and is widely used to get counterhit focus attacks.

haha, well if you’re going to do a reversal flash kick, it doesn’t really matter if its less than 4 frames either.

Some quick corrections:

-You have 7 frames to tech after you get thrown. Since you cannot be thrown out of the startup frames of your throw, you get those 3 additional frames, so you get 10 frames to stand tech.

-Characters are unthrowable for 2 frames any time they can reversal (e.g. leaving blockstun).

-The game registers stand block and crouch block inputs regardless of your character’s animation or hitboxes. So technically, you can stand tech during blockstun and then crouch block on the next frame, if you were fast enough. You aren’t automatically locked into stand block for a few frames following any stand tech (and likewise for low blocks and overheads)

There are some good tips in there, but it’s hard to read.

It doesn’t, because a frame trap is a series of two moves. Dudley’s super is only one move. Guile’s is not a frame trap.

Toxy once did a write-up on close combat in SSFIV, and here’s a reference he posted:

You can’t spam jab through a true frame trap. However, 3f jabs will beat anything thing with more than a 3f gap (unless the second move has invincibility or is out of range). Counter-hit setups (usually have larger gaps) will beat delayed crouch tech.

ps. I’m not sure how you are calculating frames and gaps, but you cannot trade, beat, or throw someoone during a 2f gap. Only moves with invincibility will work, or moves that have properties that will make the opponent’s move whiff.

There are some misconceptions about teching throws here. Most guides do a terrible job of explaining this, but you can actually tech outside of the standard “tech window”, which is 6-7 frames (depends on how you count them). Teching uses a 12-frame buffer; if there’s an LP+LK input there and the character is able to tech at the time of the throw connecting, the throw is teched.

Try this:
Go into training, pick T. Hawk for P1 and some other character for P2. Select record, and have the other character dash forward and press throw as late as possible, but without any move actually coming out. Use playback, and try to throw them with T. Hawk’s forward throw right after they’re done dashing.

So… early throws that connect right after blockstun can be teched during it. The timing will be tighter for throws other than Hawk’s f+throw, but it’s still a major downside to early throws.

Different people have different definitions for frame traps. I don’t think there is any one definition that everyone can agree on. If you look at the Option-Select term glossary, Ryan hunter defines a frame trap as “A sequence of attacks designed to make the opponent think they have a good opportunity to attack, when they are actually in a poor position to attack. Almost always refers to Counterhit Setups.” I thinks its best to leave the definition as general as possible. Whats far more important to me is explaining the mixup properly and explaining what options you have and what those options do.

I define an “X-frame gap” as X being the number of frames between when you are able to hit buttons (e.g. exiting blockstun) and when the first active frame of the next move collides with your character. For example a meaty would have a 0-frame gap, since there are no frames between when they are able to press buttons and when your active hitbox is in contact with them.

I define a move that has “X frame startup” as X being the number of frames from the start of the move’s animation to the first active frame. In other words I would say Ryu’s DP has 3 frame startup because there is no hitbox on the first frame, no hitbox of the second frame, and there is a hitbox on the third frame. So there are 2 frames where the move is starting up and then 1 active frame, giving the move 3 frame startup.
Personally, I think that Ryu’s dp should be said to have 2 frame startup, and similarly Zangief’s super/ultra should be said to have 0 frames of startup. However, I know that this is an unpopular convention, so I am going to avoid it.

Are you sure you can tech 7 frames after you get hit? This would mean that the window for crouch teching is 8 frames since you would be able to crouch tech on the same frame you get hit and also 7 frames after that. And youre right about the startup of a stand tech being 3 frames, I must have forgotten to include the first active frame.

I didn’t know this! I went into training mode to test this out and you are totally correct! I will have to make some changes to include this information and its effects. I love learning new things about this game, thanks so much for the info!

This is another piece of information that i didn’t know! I’m glad there are some really knowledgeable people here on the forums. I’ll have to make even more changes now. I can’t thank you guys enough for teaching me about this stuff.
As for the 12-frame buffer. Are you saying that you can tech in block stun 12 frames before the first active frame of the throw hits you?

Just one quick comment…

No, but yes. It is important to explain the concept properly. It is not, however, a good idea to make terms as general as possible. That you’re having people nitpick your definition in this thread should show that being strict with definitions is the way to go. ESPECIALLY if you are writing a guide on the topic.

Being accurate and strict about what a term means and what it encompasses creates clarity.

I suppose I could make a strict and specific definition for this guide. But I dont think I will be able to come up with a definition that everyone can agree on.
How about something along the lines of “a frame trap is a sequence of 2 attacks that force the oponent to hit a button in order to defend against an unfavorable outcome if they were otherwise blocking”

The concept of a frame-trap is well-defined and understood (it comes from 3D games like Soul Calibur and Tekken). The idea has already been morphed into describing nearly anything that leads to a CH because of SFIV. There’s no need to change the definition even further. If you want to do a piece on all the ways you can score a counter hit, then this guide is fine. But don’t call it a frame-trap “how-to”, because many of the things you talk about clearly aren’t frame traps.

Which means you should understand why this:

… is incorrect.

A 2f gap means that only moves with 2f or less of startup can beat or trade with the incoming attack (invincible attacks aside). You cannot get thrown during a 2f frame trap because throws start up in 3f.

Fair enough, I will change all instances of the phrase “frame trap” to “counter hit setup”

If there is a 2 frame gap that means that there is 2 frames when you are not in block stun. If you throw on the first frame you leave block stun the hitbox for the throw will come out 2 frames after this first initial frame. For the second frame after you leave block stun, your throw animation advances 1 more frame; the hitbox for your throw will come out on the next frame. In the frame after the gap has ended, your opponent’s hitbox should be out, as well as your throw’s hitbox. Since throws beat strikes if their hitboxes collide at the same time, your throw hits the opponent out of the first active frame of their attack.

Not quite, because that would make throws useless, lol!
The 12 frames are counted from the point at which the tech occurs.

Let’s use Ryu as an example. If either of his throws connect, but are then teched, his throw animation will play for 7 frames after which it will transition into the tech animation. It doesn’t matter when the other player teched; it will always transition at that point. But like I said earlier, the game reads 12 frames worth of inputs when deciding whether or not a tech was made. In Ryu’s case, this means that 5 of those frames fall outside of the window where his throw makes contact, i.e. the standard tech window.

Crouch tech can’t be directly used during these 5 extra frames, because a normal will come out. But if a character is occupied somehow - like dashing or being in blockstun -, then it’s good.

I will lay out an example scenario of this:

Ryu attacks Guile with cr.LP. Guile blocks it. Ryu is now at a +2 advantage.
He wants to throw Guile as soon as possible. He needs to wait at least 1 frame after cr.LP finishes before throwing.
Any sooner and the throw would whiff; see m16ghost’s earlier point.
Guile times a crouch tech perfectly during his blockstun animation.
As late as possible, without the crouch tech actually coming out.
Ryu’s throw connects, and Guile… techs!
Guile would also tech if Ryu waited 2 or 3 frames after the cr.LP before throwing.
If Ryu waits for 4 frames, his throw will succeed.
There is no way anymore for Guile to tech such a delayed throw out of blockstun.

In summary: a short 3-frame shield against early throws can be achieved with this trick. It’s probably pretty obvious what would happen if the defending player mistimes their tech… too late = move comes out, too early = fewer frames protected from throws.

The vast majority of the cast’s throws have the same tech windows as Ryu’s, but there are some exceptions (Gouken being the biggest one). They all use the same 12-frame buffer, but they differ in when the throw transitions into the tech. I think I have an old thread that lists the differences in tech windows, but it contains a lot of outdated information, unfortunately.

By this do you mean that is provides a 5-frame shield, which is 3 more than you would get if you are in a reversal situation?
For example, if Akuma does a level 1 focus attack - forward dash (-2 on block), and he techs on the last frame of his dash’s recovery, he will auto-tech any throw for then next 5 frames.


Yes, with the exception of some throws.

awesome! I checked out your old thread about tech windows, given that you can tech gouken’s throw 10 frames later than a normal throw, does that mean that you cant tech it until 4 frames after it hits you?