One of the difficult aspects of improving in a game like Smash Bros is finding out your own weaknesses and areas for improvement then turning around and creating a practice plan to address those points. While there are a number of ways of being faced with your own weak points, like online matches, training with friends, and tournament matches, there is a big difference between knowing you have weaknesses and being able to put them into words. Something that helps me is creating a Tournament Report after every tournament I enter to identify things to practice.
A Tournament Report is a small page of notes on various aspects of the tournament that can help you focus on what you can work on for the next tournament. I’d recommend writing a report the next day or even the same day after the tournament, but leaving a little time to get a little emotional distance so you aren’t just pouring salt on your opponents for the whole report. A good report will have the following points in as much detail as you can remember:
1. The characters you and your opponents played in each game of each set
Understanding what characters you each picked and why can help you make different decisions later if that might help, or allow you to work out a strategy for later. If either of you is using blind-pick, keeping track of what certain opponents pick can help you out a lot later too.
2. The stages played and who counter picked what stage
Same as above, evaluating whether your stage picks helped or hurt you can help a lot in the future.
3. Notes about how you were feeling before the tournament
Note here things like whether you warmed up before the set, were you feeling good, nervous, or down, did you eat before playing, etc.
4. How well you were able to focus during each set
How did you feel during the set? Were you getting angry, upset, what moves caused you to feel what? Did you feel like you could adapt to the way your opponent played?
5. Thoughts or feelings you had after each set, either about yourself or about how the opponent played
Same as above, but what was going through your head after the games?
6. How did your opponent play?
What was their style like? Aggressive? Combo oriented? How did they respond to your play? Did they stay calm or what caused them to react?
7. How did you play?
What got under your skin? Did you feel like you played well? Did you stick to your game plan?
8. What are some practicable points that you can take away from this set?
How can you be better prepared for playing this opponent again? What can you do in training mode today to be better for the next tournament?
Being able to put all of these notes down will help you understand your own performance better and give you something to keep in mind for next time. You’ll also feel more confident for the next time you face these opponents because you’ll have put in time and practice just for them!
*Here’s a quick example of what my last tournament report looks like. If you want help making one of these, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and I’ll give whatever advice I can. (https://countesports.com/2020/03/04/wnf-2-26-tournament-report-for-count)