When life and repetition prevent advancement

Hi. This post describes me and my journey with SF. It may be a little long for some people. :wonder:

To give some history about myself… I’ve been around SF since SF2 was in the arcade. I was born in 1982 and remember SF1 in the but never played it. I’ve been around video games most of my life. I started playing Blanka and Guile in SF2 because they were easy to use and later switched to Ryu when SF2 came out for SNES (boy, that was exciting as hell…). I even had the SF2 Turbo VHS promotional tape! I spent countless hours playing SF2, SF2T, and SSF2 on the SNES from 1992-1996. I even knew Guile and Vega’s infinite dizzy for SNES. Killer Instinct was my other primary fighting game. I then got my first PC in 1995/6 and stopped playing on the console for many years.

I skipped out on the SF Alpha series and anything in between up until SF3:3S. A few years ago some friends and I discovered it and made it a new hobby. We played in that arcade in the Southern CA area (Family Fun Arcade) and on the console for a few months, but my friends would soon improve faster than I could.

I’ve always felt some sort of entitlement to be a realy good player because I’ve been around the game for so long, but having that ego that doesn’t really work. Who wouldn’t feel that way after being around the game for so many years? I got SF4 (PS3)right away and adjusted pretty quickly (I use an arcade stick), but found that again, others online are far superior in skill and I’m not really improving, if at all a very disappointing pace.

There are some learning disabilities that run in the family that I think have something to do with my inability to make a significant improvement that would seem to be normal for the average (yes, that’s a blanket term) person. After sort of defining my play style long ago with Ryu in SF2, I can still see the core decision making process and patterns play out now. I suppose this is somewhat normal for anyone who sticks with a certain character for so long.

My primary playing partner in SF3:3S was a very book smart guy and basically defined my problem to one big issue - my inability to adapt. That I played in a very predictable manner, another problem being I played too defensively and didn’t attack enough. This carries out into “real life” as I have difficulty with confrontation and routine generally carries me. Change can be a real problem for my stability.

My play varies significantly - sometimes I do well and sometimes it’s mindless repetition which leads to defeat and further reinforces my thoughts about being a bad player, leads to me just giving up the in middle of a match and so on. There are other important factors to consider like the time of day, for myself and for who I’m playing against. In the mid to late afternoon are there more children playing who are beginners? The later it gets are better players online? Am I just tired? Am I not getting enough exercise and oxygen to the brain (which is important for concentration) ? Am I too old? Am I just not practicing enough?

I’ve had people with higher ratings (in the 3000s) tell me that I’m too strong defensively - which isn’t necessarily a completely negative skill right? One guy was surprised that I was only at a 1000-ish rating for how he saw me play (I must have been OK that day :slight_smile: ) I’ve been hovering between a 500-1500 rating since release. That’s not good enough for me. I can do the hard trials with Ryu. I can do a series of planned steps. But I can’t think on my own.

When I play my first 5-10 games in a session (a session may be 30-120 minutes total) I tend to experience anxiety-like reactions, increased heart rate and shaky hands. Does anyone else get this? Sometimes I do moves that are completely out of place like a hurricane kick that leaves me wide open. Sometimes I panic when my health is low and go right back to my core repetitive play. Sometimes I don’t know how to react and give up. If I encounter a turtle Akuma who spams air and ground fireballs I might try using an EX shoryken because I remember someone saying it can go through fireballs. When that doesn’t work and the other person sees what I’m trying to do, they adapt and I give up.

Any strategy that involves me playing outside my repetition is based on memory of what I may have seen someone do on Youtube or what I read somewhere, it’s like blindly trying something without really understanding why I’m doing it.

What to do when there could be other issues outside of what common sense like practicing more, or playing with other characters, or taking notes (which are all good suggestions) may dictate? I’d be willing to pay for a tutor, but it would need to be someone who could see outside of just technique within the game and spot what else is preventing me from improving. Personally it’s a little tough to ask for that kind of help. I know a lot of arcade players would balk at that. :slight_smile:

Is anyone else as self-aware when it comes to this stuff? Anyone else experience what I do? Has it been a factor for your play?

I’d appreciate anyone taking the time to read this and comment. Thank you! :lovin:

Okay first thing first, you must define your goals.

What I mean by that? Let’s take a look at myself for an example. Everything I am doing today is because that is what I set out to do. What I am doing today was a goal I had planned a long time ago. So you must have clearly defined goals both small and large and keep those in the forefront.

Second- You must evaluate if those goals are realistic, and then evaluate what is it gonna take to get those goals and can you do that!!! I evaluated what it would take to get where I am today even in skill level, and I made sure to do just that. I decided to open up my field of experiences and travel to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. That was the best decision I could’ve made because it increased my hunger and satiation for competition. Once again this goes back to what are your goals?

For me personally I am like the combination of Ryu/Geese/Sylar from Heroes. My goal is to be the best person I can be, but at the same time my goal is to “take as many powers from others as possible.” Have you seen Heroes? Sylar consumes powers from those he meets and uses them better than they ever did. That is my goal, I wish to take the skill level away from those I meet and use that against them. Sure there may be no honor in that but I don’t care!

So I know who I am, I know what my goals are, and I know how to go about doing that. You have to know this first before you can make any progress. Once you are aware of this then you gotta take it to step three-Evaluation.

Step three- You must evaluate whether you have met your goals or not, and why you did or did not meet them. You must take a good hard look at why you did not meet them and correct it swiftly. While winning may be great, winning doesn’t teach you that much. Its only in losing that you learn more about yourself and what you need to do to get better. Thus while in the moment I do not like losing, overall I love it because it is truly the only way I get better.

Step four- Perfect, rinse, repeat. Perfect your craft, never settle for anything less than perfection (if that is your goal), and rinse, repeat. Before long if you are constantly changing your goals (because you will meet them if you do what I say), you will realize how you are separated from the rest of the pack. You will stand out for various different reasons!!!


i kinda skimmed the main points in your post so im basically getting, “I’ve been playing for years, but out of repetitious moments, I am stuck and am not getting any better.”

I mean for you to understand a lot of these factors is good, since u know theres a problem, you’ll be more aware of attempting to fix it. Playing fighting games require you to be very adaptive and quick-minded, as with any sport. There are several analogies that are on these boards from fencing to martial arts, but I guess one main aspect is knowing the options that can come out of a situation. With your anxiety and shaky hands, it may be a result of not knowing whats going to happen. Such as ur example with the Akuma fireballs, im not sure about the whole ex srk, but instead of thinking of a one way route to beating the air fireballs, think of other ways to tackle the situation. Akuma’s air fireballs really dont do much damage, u could focus through them, or u could build meter if u wanted to, its really dependent on teh player, and one main strategy is that your you are fighting that specific character and there are those character specific matchup strategies, but really you are fighting that individual person. Maybe that akuma has a weak offense so he plays a heavy run away, etc…When you get to a higher level of play, its more dependent on the user rather than the tool…so if someone comes at you with a sword, there is that general strategy to avoid being hit, but then u also have to keep in mind how the person is wielding it, is he just flailing at you, or is he spacing himself looking for opportunities…

so my biggest tip for you is basically being really open minded, and not being discouraged when you lose…Learn your bread and butter combos perfectly, then try them against a player so you can learn how to utilize them…If the combos seem iffy, go make new ones, make combos that you’ll feel comfortable doing until you are confident enough for the higher damaging ones…I think one thing that will help you with this, is that it will build confidence so you wont be anxious to over/under perform something…

So you eat the brains of our opponents?..I KNEW EET!

but seriously…Losing is great…I dont have a lot of competition, so winning a lot sucks, cause i know that once i go to a tourney, i’ll get beat up for not having that exposure to people that are always better…So in a way im like Sylar too cause i just want to play better/different/new people so that I can become a better player…and i’ll prob eat their brains too…jus on the safe side…

To OP this says it all and can totally relate to what you are saying on a personal level.
You most likely do have an undiagnosed learning disorder as do 80% of people who do runs in family.Causing any progress to stagnate or be non existant.

i used to be a no hoper in fighting games like you and tried so hard with minimal to no results.
But have since been diagnosed and put on medication.
The transformation was instant!!, Now i am winning money matches,beasting thinking on the spot, aware and taking mental notes on all situations, using technical characters with all ther combos on the fly. Which would have been impossible before, so check that shit first !

How do guys know you have learning disabilities? Just curious, cuz sometimes I feel that way because I fall into predictable patterns, but I didn’t fathom it could be that I got something wrong with me.

trying not to derail the thread to much, but feel this relates to the subject of stagnation in fighting games and getting overcoming , as ADHD is a common disorder that often goes undiagnosed.
Knowing you have it is hard to describe, as their are so many symptoms,and countless examples could reference.
The main being for me an inability to adapt and think on the fly. Which playing fighting games really made clear. I would be greatly overhwhelmed if situations were unfavorable, and the match came down to more then spacing and basic execution. Mind games and guessing thinking situations completely rocked me, and wakeup game was very horrible. :frowning:
Completely due to an inability to focus on the task at hand and distractability because of to much mental noise in head.
I would liken my thoughts to that of a helicopter blade going round and round never stopping,
when on medication though, the helicopter blades turn so fast that you can’t see it and its a continuous circle just buzzing. Now feel like my brain works.
And i win ALOT!!

This is just me though, and more then likely will not be applicable to the majority. Many people just plain suck at fighting games no matter what and will never ever be good.

Symptoms of ADHD http://www.ladswa.com.au/page.php?id=116

Meh, I’m not trying to derail, but I’ve always thought of ADHD as an excuse for how terrible public schools are at engaging children. It mostly is about cramming all the required material to pass, and go into the more important part of your life, college.

My only thoughts

Anyways, to address the OP…

First of all, stop caring about Battle Points. They are useless as an indicator of skill. A good example of why is the thread of the #1 person ragequitting :rofl::rofl::rofl:

Anyways, I find that you need to have a plan when you go into any fight. You need to expand your knowledge about each matchup. like being able to stop certain characters pokes with a specific poke your character has, and knowing when to AA them. Also, learn about hitboxes, trades, and spacing, zoning which all comes handy. In SFIV you don’t need to know all that flashy shit, just stick to what gets things done.

Also, capitalize on opponents mistakes. I’ve noticed that I let peoples missed supers go unpunished every time I play. You gotta make sure you’re learning from each loss in order to go up to the next level.

I find that the biggest problem amongst good players is lack of consistency. Sometimes I destroy people with Twelve in 3S, sometimes those same people beat me pretty badly.

There are A LOT of players playing near top-level, but the fact that they aren’t able to play that way all the time is what keeps them from reaching higher.

Why do you think some players consistently place so high in tournaments while a lot of other equally good players don’t seem to be up so much? It’s because the ones who DO good all the time have adapted a way of playing consistently.

Also, to address your nervousness. You probably are thinking you are gonna lose so it therefore is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like you probably care too much about BP or something. Just go into every game with a clear head.

I actually suffer from alot of the same problems the OP described. Funny thing is, I do my absolute best, hands down when it’s extremely late at night and I’m too tired to over-think anything. What I mean is, I’m so tired that in a match, I literally don’t care about what the outcome will be, so I just try my best and use everything I know to my advantage, and I actually win. And I think that’s the key, having a clear head. Too often I’m sitting their having a mental fued when I could be focusing on the actual game, and thus have a higher chance of winning.
Suffice it to say, I feel ya man.

I also suffer from repetitive play (as most of the online community I play with would tell you), and although it’s hard, I’ve found the best way to break out is to start reacting to your opponent. However, what you’ve said here is very interesting.

It seems like you pay attention to your opponent, but you only use strategies that you’ve seen before. In addition, if you haven’t seen a way to beat it, you give up. Why don’t you try getting creative? If you’re in a position and you don’t know what to do about try doing something you’ve never tried. I don’t play SF4, so I couldn’t tell you specifically how to beat Akuma spam, but since you know a specific situations that you have trouble with, it seems like you can break it by simply asking around here or by trying different things until you find an answer.

If you would be so kind as to take a noob’s advice.

Sir, I noticed you said you had learning disabilities, and that you can’t improvise on the fly- you can only do what is in your repetition.

That is OK.

First off- don’t blame yourself for playing online. Online has input lag, and input lag completely changes the landscape of play. It’s not that you can’t learn anything from online, it’s that you shouldn’t take it seriously.

Second off, your nervousness in sessions is completely normal and natural. I remember having the same sensations- that feeling where you’re not even sure if you can keep holding the controller because your hands are shaking so much, right? It’s OK. All it means is that you haven’t put yourself in that situation enough. If the feeling never goes away, well, know that everyone gets nervous- it’s just that the big boys know how to control their emotions and focus.

Third, you say you’ve been playing these games for a long, long time, and you feel you’re entitled to being a good player.


Even though you do have experience, which is good, when you first started out you most likely put together your game in bits and pieces as you went along, through trial and error. However, with each new game release, well, the game done changed, literally. Sit down, pick a new character if you have to (I did; particularly a character meant for beginners) and start from the beginning- studying basics. Spacing, poking, when to use special/super/ultra, throwing, etc.

Build a strong foundation. This is really important. A strong foundation gives you options so that you can adapt. If you know what to do in general situations, you can think your way out of more complex ones. After you have a strong foundation, you’ll be better prepared for what anyone throws at you; you might even get a little more confident. Having a strong foundation also helps in your understanding. Understanding is crucial. The only way you can improve is if you understand what your intentions are and why you’re doing anything. If you don’t understand it, don’t even throw the move out- it’s a waste of your time, and it probably won’t help you improve.

Now, say even though you build yourself a strong foundation you still can’t choose options in the heat of battle. That’s OK as well.

This post was made by a person for Soul Calibur, but I believe it still might apply to fighting games in general:


Now, for my ideals, I believe in choosing options on the fly, and maintaining the possibility of being unpredictable, adapting to the current situation, and always being a blank slate.

For some people, this is not possible, or they don’t believe in this sort of play.

So, instead, if you’re going to do repetition, and you know you are, then why not train smart repetition?

Make your own move patterns, setups, ones that you think have a good chance of working against opponents, and practice those. In other words, do your thinking before the fight.

I guarantee you something will come out of it, if not you having learned something about yourself.

Good luck, man!

I used to be a pure 100% defensive player when I was younger. The thing is it’s good against bad players who make simple mistakes. When I got older, I became an “aggressive” defender, though today I don’t play that way anymore. I think the best defenders BAIT mistakes.

BAIT instead of WAIT. Don’t wait for mistakes. Also, do not be afraid to change gears and rush down. I do feel you have to play with an aggressive mindset in fighting games against good players which involves a lot of bluffing, forcing mistakes, and baiting. You can’t wait for your opponent to make mistakes because their execution and spacing will be spot on in the intermediate levels. You should try to position yourself where you look vulnerable.

OP I am the same story. Born in '83, played sf2 at 7-11’s. The amazing thing about SF is that I still find new techniques and strategies every time. I think that is really the reason I still play fighting games in general. I used to play 3s Akuma every week for a few years, and I guarantee you I could learn something new with him in another week.

Case in point - A few years ago, it never even dawned on me to walk under jump kick happy people and throw them when they land. It sounds simple, yes. Myself having been that way years back, I noticed people doing it to me. It was a huge change from my block instincts and reflexes and felt crazy to do, but I do it all the time now, and that one maneuver opened up my game in so many ways.

Here is my biggest advice - (Why I despise PlAY tO WIN!!! guy) Take risks. Alot of them. Just monkey around. Don’t even concentrate on wining, but rather getting away with or trying new crazy stuff, say, completely opposite from what you normally do. You will find new ideas and strategies out of nowhere and discover alot about people’s tendencies. Half the games I play online I am practicing something against somebody and not really trying to win. It will open your game up so much. What do you have to lose?

I felt like I hit my peak a while ago, for 3S I used to main Akuma and I just didn’t feel like I had improved at all. I wasn’t feeling the character anymore. I wasn’t improving and I didn’t feel the drive to keep going without some kind of reward.

now I use Twelve. Every battle is a struggle and I savor every win. I don’t win often but all the work needed to play well is so rewarding. Day by day I feel myself getting better in some small detail. Twelve rules, respect.

The only things that prevent advancement in the sacred art of fighting games is ones own weak soul and dedication to crush their opponents

I was in a similar situation with my game until I switched characters. I broke away from shotos and focused on characters who rely on offense and offensive defense. I feel that I’ve improved more since I started playing Fei Long than I did in every game since SFII. Test out new characters and allow their tools to define the way you play.

If you think you may have a condition or disability, have it checked out. Take control of the problem.

I think Dark Geese made some good points about having a goal to work toward. Also, learn to play to win and avoid playing to not lose, which is a common problem among defensive players. I play my hardest all of the time and do my best to ignore the bp numbers.

Agreed, just like I agree with avoid playing not to lose, you’ve gotta test things out. And if you have someone to play constantly thats where you test things out to see what works and what doesnt. So while I am a “Play to win” type of guy, it’s not straight forward with me, in order for me to “play to win” I need to test things out against someone like Dhalsimowns says so as to see if it works or not. So I take risks against opponents in vs. mode casuals that I normally wouldn’t in a tournament.

Some refer to this as sandbagging, I look at it like “experimental sandbagging.” (In other words I’m sandbagging with a purpose, I’m testing new things out so as to see how they work, recording footage of it, evaluating it, picking up my opponent’s tendencies, rinse repeat.)

Now some frown upon that but this is what works for me, just like for some people the other school of thought of “Go hard or go home” Or play 100% and give it all you got all the time works for others. You need to find out what works best for you…and being the “experimental doctor” aka Dr. Sandbag lol :rofl: in casuals is what works best for me.

If you want PM me I could teach you the art of sandbagging…it is an art!!! (For starters, if someone is better than you you don’t sandbag, you give it all you got against them to learn and get better.)

Also yes consider getting evaluated to see if you have an LD. Funny thing is this is actually what I do for work (Evaluate for LDs) so if you lived closer to me I could actually give you a professional psychoeducational evaluation.

Lane- How do you know if you have an LD? You get evaluated by people like me that specialize and have a Masters degree in doing these types of evaluations.


I think you may not have ADHD, although I wonder if a “normal” takes ADHD suppressing drugs do they become like super focused?

Anyway, you might be suffering from anxiety, the whole shaky hands thing being tale tale sign. I get that all the time, usually, only while playing in the arcade but nonetheless I get it. I think the way to get past that is to be comfortable and try to relax. If your play style is predictable and all that I’m sure in time you can learn to pick up different tactics and you’ll generally improve. What you need to do first is to control the anxiety you’re feeling and I think you’ll see your game pick up.