Your focus when in a match?

Just a question regarding your mindset. I noticed when I am playing I tend to look at my character. Are you guys zeroed in on your opponents character the entire match?

i watch the entire stage but mainly the opponent to look what i can punish.


I watch my opponent and the distance between us.
Did he just move into jump in range? mental note: dont throw out moves with tons of startup/ recovery frames
Did he just move outside jump range? What are my characters options know, what are HIS options?
If he’s close, does he like to frametrap, shimmy or go for tick throws?
What does he do on wakeup? And does it matter to him what Im doing on his wakeup or will he just wakeup dp everytime?

Stuff like that, you obviously dont focus on everything at once all the time. Butstay aware during the match and shift your focus around depending on the situation

I quickly place emphasis on their habits and see if they’re prone to jumping or throwing out unsafe stuff. A lot of guys like to do a cr.LP before going for a throw, or a j.HK before quickly walking in for a throw. Once I have a good understanding of what they like to do, I look for the most optimal punishes in the most likely situations. Sometimes I’ll do a lame ass punish (ie throw after a whiffed DP, sweep) when I’m not ready for the opening, but that’s something I’m working on as I play more often.

I look at my… stick.

I spend the majority of the time looking blankly at nothing; and when someone moves in certain ways; my eyes snap to that. So if someone suddenly rushes in, or does some kind of jump in; I’ll focus on them and watch what they’re doing. Otherwise; kinda spacey; kinda looking at my own character.

Find the cracks.

That’s all I look for.

i look at the space in between us and play footsies against these softbody scrubs trying to get knockdowns and oki me to death. get that ass beat.

not fucking up, wondering where my HP went

This and focusing/not focusing on my opponent too hard as it will take me out of my groove, force me to play timid.

I look at the opponent’s position relative to mine and try to consider our options at that point. I also try to pay attention to the timer and the meter… not just the lifebar.

What I NEED to be focusing on and using more for this game is the V-trigger meter. I’m hoarding mine too much and not considering my opponent’s enough when I do stuff in the match.

You might find this video helpful.

Link to Vid.

That’s a top Japanese SF player (Sako) wearing eye-tracking software to illustrate where he’s looking during the match.

My focus shifts at times, but the places I look the most during a match are:

1./ The space right around/in front of my opponent.
2./ Glance down to see meter levels.
3./ The timer.

I almost never look at my own character. Maybe this is just years of fighting game awareness, but at this point, I know what my character is doing! I’m making them do it! I therefore don’t spend much time watching my own character at all, because I’m aware of it with senses other than just vision (literally the touch of my hand on my controller - I am that character).

Watching the opponent, however, is very important. You need to get a sense for their patterns, be able to react to their movement, so on and so forth. Being aware of all the resources available to you and your opponent at any given time is also important, so during “down time” (i.e. after a knockdown with a long animation, during a long combo, during a lull in the action at neutral) I’ll look down to see who has access to how much of what.

Don’t forget the clock! If you ever get the feeling like “wow, this has been a really long round,” look up! Don’t get timer scammed! Timer scam them! Losing to a Time Out you never saw coming is an awful way to lose a round. Be aware, and also remember to adjust your tactics based on the clock. If you have a significant life lead and there are 6 seconds left in the round, don’t take any risks by bringing the fight to them. Just play it safe and run the clock out.

I’m not new to fighting games or anything I’ve been playing for years but I did realize I tend to look at my character… Thanks everyone , especially b4k4

Just like when I’m driving, I’m paying attention to everything, while keeping my main focus on my opponents charcter. I’ll glance at the hp bars, the timer, the meter, the v guage and the distance between me and my opponent, and estimate how far each of us are from our respective corners. But ultimately my focus is on him and how i can react to anything he does, while trying to anticipate what he will do.

Speaking of focus in fighting games, I’d like to bring up something that I’ve experienced and hopefully you guys can tell me if you’ve had the same thing happen to you.

You’re playing a long set or just over a long period of time, suddenly your mind goes blank, you’re almost looking THROUGH the screen rather than at it, and your reactions and reads are just at insane levels. It’s only happened to me a handful of times but every time it does, it’s the coolest feeling. I looked it up some years ago and it’s basically what the Japanese call mushin or “no mind”.

Apparently many martial artists seek to achieve mushin at will, which is why repetition of forms is used to create the muscle memory needed to get there. It also happens to artists which I can also attest to, because I’ll be drawing or painting something and next thing I know my whole evening is gone.

It would be so awesome to just go into “no mind” at say a tournament for instance, though getting over the nerves is the biggest hurdle to that. So has anyone else gone though the same thing?

You’re actually hitting on one of the most important characteristics of PvP gaming, and I know exactly what you’re talking about. In fact, I’d say that attaining that state is the primary reason I play PvP games in the first place.

It’s that feeling of being in “the zone.” I imagine we’ve all experienced that at one time or another, and probably wish we could stay there all the time.

What you’re talking about is actually the difference between beta brain waves (conscious rationalization and thinking) and alpha brain waves (deep relaxation, meditation, and concentration). A lot of people play in the beta brain wave state, because they’re focused on being rational, thinking about what they are doing, thinking about what their opponent is doing, etc. Most humans spend most of their waking hours in a beta brain wave state. I found a link to some information about different brain wave patterns, but I can’t remember where I found the fact I’m about to cite, although I’m sure it’s true. Researchers studying brainwaves have observed the alpha brainwave state and noted it is prevalent in the following groups:

1./ Monks trained in meditation. Meditation is the conscious effort to enter an alpha state, rather than a beta state, and stay there. This also has a clear connection to the idea of "mushin no shin."
2./ Professional athletes engaged in whatever their sport is. The clarity of mind, focus, and zen like state required to perform at the highest level in sports is also associated with alpha brain wave patterns.
3./ Soldiers in war. It’s strange to think that someone fighting for their life would enter a thought pattern associated with deep relaxation, but it actually makes a huge amount of sense. Beta brain waves would be crippling in combat because of the anxiety and attempts to rationalize what is happening around you. There is no time to think when your life hangs in the balance, and soldiers have been observed to be in an alpha brain wave state in combat.
4./ Pro gamers. When a top level player is playing their game, they’re no longer in the conscious, rationalizing mode of thought. They enter into the same zen-like state that allows them to relax, concentrate with intense clarity, and react. I suspect that part of this is the sum of knowledge acquired before hand - top gamers “do their homework,” so to speak. They know exactly what they need to do, and exactly what their opponents can do. They no longer need to focus a lot of conscious energy into the mechanics of the game because of the degree to which they have already internalized them.

I can attest to my own success achieving alpha states through meditation, sport (long distance running in particular I find to be meditative), and gaming. I cannot always consciously force myself into it, but I can feel it when I’m there and it’s definitely when I perform at peak levels.

If you’re interested in exploring this concept a little more, you can check out a Psychology Today article on brain waves here:


I also found some studies that spoke to the correlation I was describing between alpha brain waves and success at gaming. Here’s a link to one from the University of Illinois:


Read ‘Flow’ By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he has written a whole book about the phenomina. Also called being ‘in the zone’

For the first few years playing fighting games, I would always look at only my character. I can’t explain why, but I felt more in control if I could see my character moving based on my inputs, and watching the enemy without knowing what my character is doing (even though I’m controlling him) would shake my confidence.

But a few years after that, I realized that looking at the opponent was way more important. You can see twitches, you see what attacks they fear, which is a great indicator of what strategies they respect about your gameplay. That way you can hone in on these fine details, expose your opponent and get the win. Of course you’ll always need to focus on spacing and all, but I noticed such a difference in my play when I started looking at the opponent instead of myself.