How to Get Better at Smash Ultimate: Tips

How to Get Better at Smash Ultimate: Tips

19 min

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Some pieces of advice to bring more glorious victories into your SSBU experience

It would be hard to find someone who loves playing Smash and doesn’t care about winning matches. It’s a fighting game! We play to enjoy sweet moments of success!

If that’s so, we can skip that introductory part about how important it is to continually improve your skills. Because it’s pretty much obvious — you want to win, and you need to grow as a player for this.

The community is so generous in sharing helpful tips on how to get better at SSBU that we have somewhat too many of those. For this article, I’ve collected Smash pieces of advice from all sorts of sources, filtered them through my personal experience (certainly added something from myself), and formed quite a reasonable number of 15 Smash Ultimate tips. Let’s go!

But right before jumping into the tips, we also recommend considering 1v1 coaching through Getting coached by a pro player is one of the most efficient ways to become better at the game and learn a lot of helpful stuff!

1. Choose a Smash Ultimate character that suits your style.

Most fighting games players know that you need quite a lot of dedicated practice with one character to unleash their full potential in fights. And with such an impressive roster, you can’t play all of them equally well. So, who to choose?

In other games, people choose someone they like in general: appearance or something from their background. Then, the character should prove their worthiness in fights. Smash is a bit different. Those characters bring so much history, so many emotions. It’s difficult to remove that additional layer and select someone who is better for the actual game by their archetype.

For example, you enjoy The Legend of Zelda series and take Link as your main. You stick to him and can’t imagine what an amazing power awaits you with the weight and strength of Ganondorf. Or you play adult Link while his younger version is better for your fighting style. The game gives many opportunities, so use them.

How do I know my style? Experiment with different characters. Just feel who you are comfortable with and who brings you more victories.

I still want to play my favorite guy/girl/creature!” Whatever makes you happy. The point is to expand your views and try new things. Sometimes it would be easier to adjust the fighting style than character preferences — but you can’t know whether it’s your case before you take a shot with other great fighters.

You might get some interesting ideas on your main character from our SSBU Tier List. Still, it’s advisable to make the decision based on your fighting style / personal preferences.

2. Use your defense

This is a thing I personally am guilty of - often ignoring defense. Smash is so fast and exciting. It invites us to jump onto the opponents and start landing hits. But you know, those opponents want to do the same, and it’s a lot about who will be able to protect themselves properly and fight back with a quick counter-attack out of the defensive bubble.

Do that! Put your finger on the shield button and actively use it. Defense opens so many opportunities in Smash Ultimate! Not only is it pitiful to ignore the shield, but also, you totally can’t progress without it.

Defense in Smash is very different from the same mechanic in other fighting games. It protects from all types of attacks (low, overhead, mid), but it can’t last long. Practice activating the shield at appropriate moments and releasing it with the best sequences for you.

3. Chain attacks and perform Smash Ultimate combos

The most basic thing to do in SSBU is to run close to your opponent, hit them hard, and then run away (they hit back!) You definitely should forget this pattern and replace it with “a hit I can land is an opening for my combo.

Yep, here we go again, talking about the combos. But all the hype about them in the fighting games community is not just empty words and emotions! Combos bring results — Ws for those who can utilize them. One hit is almost nothing. But if you can chain other attacks/moves into it, this is the start of your ascent to glory (or at least to have more fun playing Smash).

Combos in Smash are simple if you approach them gradually. Find two-three attacks that link easily (sure, you can take this homework from other cool kids; for example, DashFight lists some strings in these Mario and Incineroar guides). Practice them regularly to develop muscle memory. Try and extend them with a couple of other hits. Continue practicing till you get a full-fledged combo.

There are Bread and Butter combos for each Smash fighter. Many of them have a similar core. And all of them can be learned by this step-by-step extension.

4. Feel proper moments for Smash attacks

It looks spectacular to launch your opponent with a Smash attack and see them getting a decent chunk of damage. Wait a moment! Are we here for a spectacular show, or do we want to win matches?

The game is not about landing your Smash. When you see the opponent flying away and then return to the platform, opportunities fly away from you, and the danger returns back.

Smashes are effective tools in the fight arsenal of your character. Some of them can be weaved into your combo play. Some are great as combo finishers to deal the maximum damage possible. But they are also quite punishable if you miss them. And they are wasted if you land them here and there, without any gameplan.

Smash attacks (and especially Final Smash) should be a powerful accord to conclude your play. Don’t shoot your best ammo too early. Wait when the opponent is severely damaged and then launch them on one-way trip (let them smash to the screen from the other side).

5. Try moving a lot

This tip might be especially helpful for folks with experience in other fighting games. In Street Fighter or Tekken, you need to be very accurate with your movements to not get a hit. Smash is a bit different.

Moving here is vital to land your combo opening and keep the opponent at a distance. This difference in strategy is based on better jumping options (double jumps, and even they are nothing in comparison to Kirby, for example), more space to move (floating platforms for non-Final Destination stages, vast space beyond the main ground), quicker speed in general (even heavyweights, such as Bowser, are faster here), and more versatile defense options (you don’t need to crouch to be protected).

May I put a weird analogy here? (and I allow myself to do so) You could think about movements in Smash as about a fighting dance. You can’t stand still and watch your partner/opponent whirling around. You should join this dance and dictate the pace. Sharks or hawks hunting their victim might be a better comparison. They are fast, they are constantly moving, and they strike whenever there is an opportunity.

6. Jump with X/Y

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate gives some very good control customization options. While many of them are rather an individual choice, it is widely advisable to turn off jumping by moving the stick up.

The default controls are pretty convenient for beginners, but when you need to mindfully perform specific attacks (up/forward tilt/smash), this jump might really ruin your plans.

Jumping with the X/Y buttons gives you better control on your character, and that’s something you need on the high levels of play.

(Psss… As with many other tips in this article, this one is not universally true. Try it out, give X/Y jumps a chance to prove their advantages, but then return to the better controlling pattern especially for you.)

7. Train!

Isn’t that obvious from everything you said before? Maybe the necessity to regularly visit Training Mode is pretty much apparent, but it wouldn’t be excessive to emphasize the importance of such activity.

Guys, there is a training mode in Smash, and you should spend significant time messing in it. It’s a great place to: 

  • check out movesets of new characters;
  • work on basic strings;
  • experiment with extended combos;
  • practice some tricky ideas;
  • and… yeah, do everything you want to improve in your Smash style.

Visit the training to warm up before entering multiplayer matches. It’s essential to activate muscle memory and just tune in to the game.

Use the feature of changing damage percentage for the dummy. It’s crucial for practicing different types of BnB combos in Smash.

Sometimes you might need to jump around, dash, activate shields, and even press random attacks — that seemingly pointless process often gives excellent ideas for your gameplan or combos.

Do not limit your training only to this dedicated mode. Offline matches against AI might be a good choice to work on different stuff or to warm up. Pay attention to the Smash mode, as you can change rulesets.

8. Watch your opponents

Take this tip literally — direct your eyes to the character you play against. Yeah, the show of fighting matches is so cool and distractive, but never forget you are here to win. Stop enjoying great attacks of your character and their wonderful jumps. Watch what the opponent is doing and try to react to those actions as fast as possible.

The game is doing its job well, so when you press a button, the corresponding actions definitely happen. There is no need to check that. But the opponent is exactly that factor you totally don’t control. Develop this simple habit to watch them intently.

It’s possible to add here advice to try and predict the opponent’s actions. Each attack (and especially such powerful as Smash) has its starting animation. You could understand what to do to prevent the hit by seeing it happening. The problem here is that you need significant experience with the whole Smash Ultimate roster to know what they are going to do. And the analyzing process is not something you turn on intentionally — it just happens. Such a predicting skill is rather a goal to move to. Just watch the opponent, and the magic will happen, slowly but inevitably.

Seeing the movements and reacting to them — you have this benefit from the beginning of such a practice.

9. Adapt to an opponent and don’t allow them to adapt to you

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate becomes fully exciting in matches against other human beings (like any fighting game). It’s because we all are unpredictable and interesting. AI can’t offer the same level of challenge, and you can find specific patterns in those AI opponents. Multiplayer matches do not have this feature. And this is an additional challenge.

Something you do with one opponent might be inefficient with another one. When you start a match, you need to find the best approach, change your fighting behavior, and find every possible weakness.

This adaptation is not something you can plan “If they do that, I do this.” But you absolutely cannot settle in one specific pattern. Be ready to improvise — your training and experience in other matches will help with this.

The other side of this coin is your ability to be unpredictable. Your opponent also tries to adapt to your style and find your weaknesses. Just mix stuff you do into something that resembles chaos but be mindful of your actions — you want to confuse the opponent, not yourself.

10. Postpone notorious learning

Professional Smash is scary in its effectiveness. Not only can those players deliver mind-blowing attacks, but also, they convert the fighting flow into numbers.

It’s great to know frame data of your Smash character and the same numbers for the most popular opponents. But the notorious process of learning this stuff might take away a significant amount of excitement in the early stages.

Delving in frame data and other seemingly complicated stuff should be a natural continuation of your growth as a player. Don’t force yourself to remember numbers. That might be productive on paper, but the risk is to get tired and bored.

To eventually reach the level of being ready for this notorious learning, you need to spend significant time just enjoying the game.

11. Learn to lose in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

You can’t win all your Smash matches. No one can! Losing fights is part of the experience (and no, I’m telling this not to comfort myself and justify those many losses). Each fight teaches us something, and facing strong opponents might be even better than defeating someone with a much lower SSBU rank.

But what is more important here is that you shouldn’t fall into an abyss of negative emotions — not only between matches but also in one fight. You start playing, and the opponent lands a long combo. You don’t have a chance to recover, and your character gets a new series of hits. The general situation is not that bad, but you feel annoyed and disappointed. You could probably win the whole match or even this round, but your inability to “take a punch” ruins everything.

Try to calm down and play with a clear head. Emotions should come afterward. And they should motivate you to play and practice more.

12. Mess with other games

How dare you!

Please, bear with me here. Smash is great and everything. Still, it’s a long-term experience, so you should take steps to prevent burning out.

There are two types of approaches:

  • You start a game, and you are so obsessed that you forget everything and play only it.
  • You weave the Smash playing sessions into other gaming activities, which might not be the same regular practice but allow you to unwind and return to Smash with fresh energy.

You know, those approaches are not too different. Let’s call them stages. It’s totally understandable to become obsessed with Smash — the game is brilliant. Then, the passion starts fading away, and you should feel this moment to not abandon the game.

Regular practice is essential for your success in Smash Ultimate. When it is mixed with other gaming excitement, you have more motivation to move forward. Still, one hour of Smash per day is a very reasonable amount of practice.

One more thing here is to play other fighting games to shake your habits. You can choose other platforming fighters, such as Brawlhalla or Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. More traditional fighting games, such as Street Fighter and Dragon Ball FighterZ will do the trick as well. Those matches help you refresh your skills and get some extraordinary ideas for Smash fights.

13. Watch SSBU esports events

It’s a very good idea to learn from the best. Esports professionals perform mind-blowing stuff in their matches, and just watching them is an educational experience. Something that can't be expressed with words can be absorbed from pro-fights — especially if you follow someone who plays the same main as you.

Can't be expressed with words” — that’s not because I’m out of them (believe me, I have to hold back). It means you don’t have to verbalize stuff in your mind in the way “Oh, I should do this and don’t do that.” Feel the action, and you will know what you should take from it to your play style.

14. Ask for advice from other Smash Ultimate players

Show your matches to someone and ask for a tip. That could be a professional as part of paid tutoring sessions. Or that could be a friend who has some experience in Smash — the point is in hearing an opinion from outside.

You might have a bad habit that prevents you from… something. Or you might not see what could help you to do… something else. Friendly advice has the power to open your eyes and change the course of your Smash practice.

It is also quite helpful to record your matches and watch them afterward. In hot fights, you can’t analyze things — you are playing. Return to that later and watch the video as an observer. What would you recommend to that guy playing?

15. Be yourself in Smash

This might sound like a vague tip, but it’s absolutely essential. Smash offers so many possibilities for players, and you shouldn’t copy anyone. It’s better to follow your own path and build your own style. Yep, you can do that in fighting matches.

Brave experiments, unique combos, unusual movements — everything that defines you as a player and a person is valuable. Your bravery to be yourself, be authentic is the shortest way to become a better Smash player.

I forced myself to not include this tip in the list because it’s too small to be there. At the same time, it’s so important that I decided to keep it for this short conclusion. Guys, play on LAN! Buy a LAN adapter to have a wired Internet connection. Consider getting the new OLED Switch with a built-in LAN port. You will definitely see the difference in your performance.

And that’s it for tips. Some more detailed explanations of the game basics can be found in our Guide for Beginners in Smash

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