Catching hands and taking notes

Note to self: [YOUR NAME] is free
  • After you lose a set, write down the reason you think you lost. If you don’t have a video of the set, those post-match notes will be your best resource for identifying the next thing you should work on. If you do have a video of the set, watch it and compare your replay review to your initial post-match thoughts to see what the difference is between the things you notice while playing a match and the things you notice while watching it — that gap is important to recognize, too.
  • Per-character matchup notes can be very useful, especially if you’re getting into a new fighting game and haven’t quite built up automatic knowledge of the whole cast yet. At first, it can be enough to just take note of specific moves or situations (overheads, unblockables, common frame trap setups), but eventually you’ll want to have a set of character-specific things you’re looking for in offense/defense/neutral situations, and working that out in notes beforehand can save you from having to remember them on the fly in a tournament match.
  • Observe how other players play. If they’re playing your character, take notes on the tools they use and the decisions they make and how they’re different from yours. If you’re about to play against them, pay attention to how they spend resources, how they defend, and how aggressively they contest and steal turns. Being able to get that read on a player before you play them can be a big advantage.
  • When you’re trying to work your way through a complicated problem or thought, writing your thoughts out in your notes can be a useful way to process it all. You don’t have to just use a boring text doc, either — flow charts, lists, mind maps, doodles, and photos can all be useful tools for this. For example, before tournaments sometimes I’ll write down lists of all my Chipp mixups in various different situations. Not only is this useful review, it helps me check to see if I’ve been overusing certain setups because I’ve been working on them lately.
  • Ever play a match and realize the thing that got you killed was the same thing that has gotten you killed in a dozen other matches? Everyone has a couple bad habits that are hard to shake without consistent, disciplined practice, and sometimes all you need is a Post-It note reminding you what they are. I like this example from Chipp senpai Bears, who pins his list at the top of his Twitter feed:
Bears also posts how-to-beat-Chipp tech videos on his YouTube channel so he can blame you for not watching them after he beats you.

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