I’m sure this isn’t a popular opinion as the OGs obviously hold this particular phrase quite dearly.
As a relative newcommer to the ‘serious’ scene (but definitely not a newcommer to FGs in general, I’ve been playing them for years and years) This word is particulary irksome and I would go as far as saying counter productive.
Firstly it means too much, it quite literally covers pretty much everything one does when playing a fighting game. A lot of people think mid-range and normals when the concept is mentioned. Is it just normals, well, no. Is it always ‘mid-range’? Not really.
I struggle to see how a particular phrase has any use when it covers so many different concepts and techniques. It’s so abstract yet you hear people say things like ‘oh I learnt footsies the other day’. As if they weren’t ‘doing footsies’ before.
This gets me on to my second point, everyone thinks of something different when the word is used, most of the time 2 people in the same conversation won’t be talking about the same thing.
One very common definition is quickly moving in and out of the opponent’s poke range and then punishing their whiffed normal, this is probably what a good 75% of people think when they hear the word but on the flipside this is a very small subset of ‘footsies’ according to some, just one element.
Sonichurricane has a very interesting article on the topic of footsies and while it is an interesting read on fighting game strategy, it is a pretty massive writeup covering so many different aspects of play that the idea that this all belongs under one heading is pretty crazy and utterly bewildering for newer players.
Me personally, footsies is synonomous with influencing and baiting an opponent, nothing more, nothing less yet it comes across as such a mystical concept. I’m not saying it’s easy to implement (hell no) but just bloody understanding what people mean when they say it is a struggle for a newer player.