Leveling up and preventing the plateau?

Hi guys, I’d like some help with improving my game.

I’ve been playing SF4 since Vanilla came out on the Japanese arcades, and I’ve been using Zangief ever since. Now that I have time, I want to focus on getting better at AE. I’d like to learn other characters, but before I start learning other characters I’d like to figure out what I can do to make my practice/casuals sessions more fruitful.

I’ve been practicing my BnB combos and basics (anti-air, footsies, simple option selects), and I’ve been playing online and casuals more. I’ve gotten to the point where I can hold my own against opponents of a certain skill level, but anything over that I usually get blown up really fast. Especially if it’s a matchup I’m unfamiliar with. I know I have to do something more in order to get over my current skill level, but I’m not sure what. What do you suggest for me to do right now, and what do you think comes after getting a decent grasp of the basics?

TL;DR: How can I best use my practice sessions and casual matches in order to get better and prevent plateauing at a certain skill level?

Lots of people will say play a diff game or character to get over plateauing but that’s never been successful for me. Detrimental if anything.

In my experience trying to diversify my training helps. Some things I’ve done that has helped is…

-Revisit older videos I watched a long time ago (I’ve found myself realizing things from match vids on the 20th+ rewatch)
-Watch recordings of yourself play
-Ask more skilled players to critique your matches
-Focus matches on practicing specific things (whiff punishes, anti airs, blocking, etc.)
-Watch MORE videos! Sometimes you can get ideas for your own character from watching other characters match videos
-Study videos! Don’t treat them like tv shows. Break them down, treat them like homework

Take some time and analyze your own matches. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to notice your strengths/weaknesses, things you did right and things you did wrong, once you spend some time and look over your replays over at the replay channel. Try to break down the match into many little situations while you watch, sort of like taking a microscope to your game play. Take notes if you have to. Try to observe your overall strategy and see what worked, and what didn’t. Perhaps your footsies game isn’t on point, or you didn’t anti-air a critical jump-in that lost you a lot of life, or you played too aggressively/conservatively. Maybe you just don’t know the match-up as well as you thought you did, and that you need more work versus a specific character. You might have played too linear, too predictably, and didn’t mix-up your game as much as you needed to. You might have played GREAT in the first round, but because your opponent figured you out too soon, you easily lost the 2nd and 3rd round.

Everybody reaches a plateau at some point during your training, it’s completely normal, and simply requires more effort and perseverance on your part to soldier on. Work hard and good luck.

Excellent advice man!! I am also going to work on this to help me level up and to become better.