Visual Cue vs. Muscle Memory


Well this isn’t much of a noobie question or anything; I sort of posted this here so i don’t risk getting bashed by people on the main SFIV forum :S.

On topic-

We all know that timing is really critical in SFIV. 1 frame links are usually the challenge every player tries to get use to at the beginning in order to maximize combo damage but if you’re a fraction of a second off it could cause you the game.

Anyway incase you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about; I’ll go ahead and try to explain.

Visual Cue: Is basically adapting your inputs to what you see on the screen. e.g Knowing when to punish Lariats or timing for Sagats 3x into DP.

Muscle Memory: Adapting your muscle to certain strokes and button pushing sololey relying on memory through practicing.

I was made to believe that top tier pros rely on muscle memory hence it makes you not worry about input lag/screen lags at tournaments; but the question is “Is it really the way to go?”

I see myself doing way better with Visual Cue on CRT’s. 1 Frame links become simple when I just rely on whats going on exactly on the screen and knowing that the next button press is going to connect after a certain motion.

I’m inviting you guys ranging from noobs to top tiers to share there view of how they currently see themselves playing. Do you rely on Muscle memory and constantly adapting your hand strokes and button presses to do combos or do you really rely on what you see on the screen and base your input timing on that. I must note that most players who rely on Visual Cue are extremely hampered when they change from screen to screen with different response time; has anyone been able to overcome that?

I would have nightmares of joining a tournament one day just to notice the screen they are using is 5-10ms off of what I’m use to play on/practice on.

Hope I can get as much feedback as possible.


The answer is both really.

Links are basically pure muscle memory. Who has the reaction time to hit a one frame link from a visual queue? Is that even physically possible? Those reaction time tests floating around the net tell me it’s not for me, at least.

If you’ve ever heard the term hit confirm, that’s all visual queue.

Sagat’s short, short, short, dp is actually both; muscle memory for the links/cancel, visual queue to know to actually throw the DP.


Yeah but why are some people more hurt by input lag than others. Some are able to adapt faster on different screens than others. While I do get your point about hit confirming, this isn’t what I am trying to argue about because I know that hit confirming is basically your strength in being able to react with best possible option after entering a certain combo string ect.

I was not made to believe that links were pure muscle memory however; can you prove that? Not being an ass or anything; I just really wanna know your point of you on this in a more elaborate fashion.


To me, if you are relying on a visual queue, you have to have enough reaction time to to actually be able to react to it. Although some links in some games are hit confirmable, I don’t see that as the case for the majority of them. Check the frame data, then check one of those reaction time tests on the internet.

Seems to me muscle memory is much more reliable. That’s what I go by anyway.


How do you rate yourself in terms of gameplay level?


I’m no pro, but I feel like it’s a mixture of visual cues and muscle memory.

For example, when hit confirming, you need visual confirmation to tell you if you’re hitting them or if they’re blocking. But then, once you actually do see that they actually are being hit, muscle memory comes in and you perform the combo that you’ve performed with your hands a thousand times before.

And of course for visual cues there are more obvious things like seeing a projectile get thrown, but those are so blatant I’d barely count those. But anyway, what I’m trying to say is that anything you consider a combo is going to be muscle memory (assuming you’ve been using the combo for a while), but getting to a point where you can USE that combo involves visual cues.


Really, really cheap.


It’s visual cue. Not queue. A queue is a line of things arranged in the order that they arrived there, waiting for some sort of good or service.

Anyway, same boat as Starcade. I do believe it is mostly muscle memory at work.

imo if your ability to read visual cues is as good as you say, you should see if you can apply that skill towards getting consistent hit confirms.


I rely on both… who doesnt? As humans we naturally rely on both.


Visual cues are important for reaction times more than anything else. Particularly hit confirming, as well as blocking on reaction.

My Run Stop Fierce is all muscle memory, though. As soon as I pay too much attention to the screen when I’m doing it, it drops.


If anything Street Fighter links is fairly similar to playing music, it’s based on timing, Relying on reacting to sounds would be too demanding to keep in time for music at a certain level, and then what happens if you’re playing an electric instrument with lag!! Muscle memory is essential as the least effort you need to put it whilst performing is the key to a good performance. You seriously can’t perform well if you’re focused on too many things, we need to internalize things to time and perform imo.


Do Top tier pros rely on both? I’m talking on Combing specifically 1 frame links.

This has nothing to do with hit confirming…


Well, they either Plink or they double tap, both of witch are muscle memory. There is a stickied article about Plinking, and doubletapping, you know what it is :slight_smile:

EDIT: Here’s the article about Plinking and when/why it is better than double tapping


Sadly I tend to use audio cues for a lot of things in this game. I’m very sensitive to that kind of timing, probably due to playing DDR and stuff like that. Doing Dictator’s cr.short x3 xx scissors has a specific sound to it.
Tap, taptap, > tap. *

I’m trying to be less dependent on it. Turning down the volume or muting the TV, and I suffer for it, but I’m sure it’ll help me in the long run. I’m playing with loud music playing so I can try to get past it a bit. Because at an arcade or tournament, I’m not always going to be able to hear the game.


Input lag hurts things like hit confirming. Because you need to verify that your poke actually hit before going into the string/combo.


You misunderstand the difference between using visual/audio cues and pure reactions… For example it’s easier to time 10 seconds in your head exactly than timing an hour in your head. Similarly if you have a 1 frame link where you have to press button ‘b’ exactly 47 frames after button ‘a’, but there is a sound 10 frames before you need to hit button ‘b’, waiting for the sound and basing your button timing on that is easier than say if you had your sound and tv turned off and were just trying to hit the one button EXACTLY 47 frames after the other.


I use to rely a lot on sound before aswell; I knew it was really risky, the way I stopped myself from it was by lowering the volume when I play… now I see myself relying on visual cue’s too much :S.


You have to use both, sometimes a 1 frame link also depends on a visual cue. For instance, I play fei long, and linking fierce off a heavy chicken wing is different depending on how it hits, so I can’t pull that off with muscle memory. Pros use both, you will use both, It’s not a matter of “what should I focus on.” I have to re adapt every time i switch TVs when I try to combo off Fei Long’s command throw also.


I’m pretty terrible but I use a mix of audio visual and muscle. For Fei when I am doing combos after his command grab I use the audio cue to time the next hit. For things like canceling its pure muscle memory, but certain links I use visuals too. For example when I am doing overheard dashes with balrog I time the next hit based on when he slides back into position, same for rush upper loops. I wish I could do all the links based off pure muscle though so if you can do that.


There was no mention of audio cues in the OP.

I agree with you on the audio thing. I come from a musical background, so learning links is all rhythm to me. Visual… not so much. I view visual cues to be more in the territory of hit confirms.