Super Smash Bros Melee is an extremely complex game with a variety of advanced techniques as well as situational awareness and being able to execute specific inputs with the right timing in the right situation.
For this reason it can be difficult to decide what is best to practice at what time.
Generally speaking a focus on what to practice is derived from one of these sources:
Basic Advanced Techniques
There are a large number of basic advanced techniques in the game that are repeatable and that speed up your movement or give you more/better options.
Perfect examples are wavedashing, which allows you to move horizontally on the ground but still do stationary grounded attacks
and shield dropping, which speeds up getting off the ledge and gives you a solid advantage that you wouldn’t otherwise have
How To Discover/Train These Basic Advanced Techniques
As these techniques are widely known by the community at large discovering them and learning how to practice them happens either through discovering tutorial videos online or through friends in the community who tell you about the techniques and how to do them.
It then comes down to practicing these techniques over and over and over until they become unconscious skills.
A shortlist of some of these techniques include
- Shield Dropping
- Up Smash Out Of Shield
- Wave Dash Out Of Shield
- Ledge Dashing
- Auto Cancelling
- Jump Cancel Grabs
- Sweet Spotting
A ‘punish’ is a term used to talk about a string of moves that your opponent can’t (or finds hard to) get out of. If you’re opponent can’t get out of the punish in any way that is known as a ‘guaranteed punish”, if they can get out of it then it is just a ‘punish’.
All punish move strings are unique to each character, each opponent you are versing, each directional influence and the % damage of your opponent.
Discovering these techniques comes through either watching other players or by doing what is known as “punish practice” where you beat up on a CPU for an extended period of time. This tends to lead to discovery of new punishes which can then be tested as to whether or not they are guaranteed or not.
A simple example of a punish is with Jigglypuff vs Fox. If you grab for at 0% and upthrow him and he fails to DI (directional influence) then you can get a guaranteed punish by short hop upair, fast fall, L-cancel, regrab.
Practicing situational punishes can be done within the game, though how to set it up depends on each specific punish and DI required. It is very complex. In some circumstance shadow boxing (see practice types) must be used when it is impossible to set up the game as you would like.
Solo + Coaching + R&D
Often deciding what to focus on at a given time comes down to finding out what is holding you back from achieving better performance.
This may be punishes you are missing in tournament games, or might be ‘tech flubs’ (aka mistakes) you are making that you need to fix or it could be things you are doing to put yourself in a bad spot where you are the one being punished.
Discovering what to focus on comes both from solo discovery and recognising what you need to work on, but more so from coaching from the community at large.
Given the friendly nature of the Melee community people with more experience will often show newer players things that are holding them back, what they need to work on as well as exactly how to practice it. I would consider this coaching.
Recently I was playing XP2000 at a tournament as he used upthrow upair as fox to kill me as Jigglypuff. He then identified that I need to work on that and proceeded to explain to me how to set it up so I can practice it over and over.
Discovering new options, tech skills or punishes can also come R&D groups where a community of players share new discoveries they have made about your character and good things you can do.