Skill Degeneration


I’ve been playing street fighter for years but since SF4 I’ve been pretty serious about it. Pumping in insane hours and countless endless, ranked matches as well as spending small fortunes at the arcades.
I’ve played all kinds of players online and off. I’ve been to tournaments and generally try to play everyday.

Yet, I feel like I’m getting worse. The older you get, the more you fall, or so it feels like… Or perhaps I have some degenerate disease that’s wrecking my brain / coordination.

Most things in life do improve with practice. Driving a car, using chopsticks, juggling but this game doesn’t seem to work like that. I’m no better than 2 years ago according to my pp and bp. But not only that, my loss streaks out strip my win streaks and my win ratio is below 50% when it used to be much better.

Like a pro athlete who is getting older and becoming slower, and they know they’d better retire. That could be me.

Does anyone understand what I mean?


I think this is what usually happens when you think too much about what you’re doing. I always lose when i try to use fancy stuff that i learned, however when i basically go on autopilot i fare much better.


Yea. I always feel like im hitting walls. I play 5 hour days a few times a week. Ive been playing alot off and on since sf4 vanilla.
I love doing ranked, but I realised that changing up oponents every match leads to me just doing what worked last time, doing what feels natural, because its a fresh read every time, and I cant read the reactions quick enough before rounds are over.
But now that Ive been mixing Endless batters into the mix alot more, I stop focusing on winning, and start trying to re-incorperate strats into my mix. like when to throw FA’s in a rush, for example.
instead of finding myself doing what i know, I find myself being able to see the attacks coming sooner (not because i know what they did last time) but because Im more aware of my oponents options. (due to his spacing).
I think fighting the same person 5-10 times in a row is helping me use my mind in a fight, because the fight style and character options dont change every single fight.

I felt like I was hitting a wall and going no where for most of my progress. I still consider myself “high end scrub” X_x.
even after two years worth of countless matches.

But now that Im training endless battles, i find myself incorporating more ideal counters.
im 33. I win roughly 40 percent of my fights. I play at midnight to 4am, much more often… it sure seems like “only serious players” play that late, cause the road is full strength X_x


playing =/= learning
playing =/= practicing

sounds to me like you have stopped learning & have merely been “playing” the game, characters have new technology coming out every couple of months, if you don’t keep up with the curve you fall behind, and while you can learn/practice while playing it’s just not the same as when you dedicate/focus on the task as opposed to just beating your opponent


MvC3 thinned the SF4 herd. Those who stuck around tend to be more dedicated than the average fighting game player. Expect further culling when SFxT comes out.


I got the feeling a few times and what’s surprising is that every time I took a break from the game I found myself doing pretty well when I got back.
When you play a lot, especially if you’re not constantly playing against better players that really put your skills at test (what usually happens when you play online a lot), you may start to develop patterns that are hard to lose and easy to read for your opponents…
taking a break just makes you forget those patterns and makes you think more and play more reactively.
Anyway, that’s just from my own experience.


I think most players run into that feeling occasionally, where for some reason they’re not better than they were before. This could be for several reasons:

  1. You’re being fooled into thinking you’re doing worse, when you’re actually just playing at a higher level and the competition is tougher. The average SF4 player is a lot better than they were 2 years ago, and you’re keeping pace.

  2. The law of averages. The best win-rate to have is around 50%, since that means you’re being consistently challenged, but also consistently over-coming them. You’re basically playing with players at the same level as you. If it’s too high, then you’re not being challenged enough. If it’s too low, then you’re being challenged too much. Since everyone is getting better every day, sometimes your relative skill-level is falling, but your actual skill-level is improving.

  3. The “groove”. Some days are good days - people are in their groove and they’re just nailing everything. Other days are bad days - people lose that groove and are just stomped. I’ve had days where my player points shot up into unreasonable levels, and then tanked the next day. The best thing to solve this sometimes is to just step away from the game, since the more frustrated you get, the worse you’re off. Other times, if you’re in a terrible stink, the problem could be something as trivial as lifestyle. Some people probably thought it was hilarious when Daigo said he has a diet and training regiment he follows now that he’s professional to maximize his game, but it’s true. The better condition your body is in / the more rest you have had / the more your body has what it needs, the more you can do.

  4. Routine. You’ve gotten B&Bs down so well from doing it all the time that it has practically become all you do. Zoning, reading the opponent, acting on reaction, being unpredictable, and even execution - everything that you associate with good play - suffers when anything about your play style becomes routine. Just try taking your B&B and altering one part of it until it’s something completely different, or even creating an out-of-sequence block string, and see how difficult it is for you. Another solution is to play a completely different character just to snap yourself out of doing the same stuff all the time. A personal solution I use to help me out is that every time I lose with a character, I must switch to another one. It might work for you if you feel you’ve been stuck doing the same stuff.

  5. Literal skill-degeneration. Your opponent should never be the only thing that is challenging you. If you’re not challenged in any aspect of your gameplay, it could mean that you’re neglecting it and might be suffering. Having an internal struggle where you forbid yourself to jump, or demand that you use an overhead, or demand that you do a flashy impractical combo, or demand that you take more risks with those single-frame links, or demand that you slow down your game so that every move counts, or even demand that you be more random - these personal challenges could be what you’re missing. The jump one was a big one for me, because I was neglecting my ground-game a lot, and would aim for a cross-up the moment I blocked a random poke.

All in all, you should know yourself in and out and consciously figure what your habits are, since that gives you something to fix. Whenever I lose and I have no clue why, I’ll start to talk to myself out-loud to call out each mistake I’ve made. If you can’t find out mid-match, then watch a replay of a recent game you lost where you did terribly. The last 20 or so matches you play are recorded in the Replay Channel.

By no means am I the best player, but I know the exact feeling you had and the solution every time was always a little different. It’s obvious that if you’re not learning then you won’t get better, so I figured you needed something more practical. Try out some of the stuff above and see if it works for you or answers your question.