The Four Cornerstones of Team Building – A Guide for New Rocket League Captains

Author: GoldenLeafRanger

With the start of PNWRL Season 4 it is time to start working with your new teams, but you may be wondering how to approach team building. If you are new to being on a rocket league team here are some tips that I’ve personally found to be true over the last couple years teaming in rocket league.

Cornerstone 1: Know Yourself to Know Your Team

“If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

To know yourself is a difficult question, but in my experience, it is the singular largest reason why teams succeed. If you know yourself, it allows a team to develop an identity that goes beyond any one individual on a team.

Before you can answer this question as a team you must first answer it as individuals. To succeed at this task, you and your teammates will need to know the following. What are my greatest strengths? What are my greatest weaknesses? What do I enjoy doing in the game? What do I want out of this team experience?

In my experience the first three questions capture the essence of who an individual is as a rocket league player. The last question is meant to help establish what that player is looking to gain, and what the player’s goals are for the team. If it so happens that a player on your team struggles in answering some of these questions here are two tools that can help you identify some of these answers.

Tool #1: Replay Reviews

This is an excellent tool for identifying what a player’s strengths and weaknesses are. Preferably take a replay of the player solo queuing ranked. Categorize things in two separate branches mechanics and decision making. Compare said players mechanics and decision making to other players on the pitch.

Is the player making good rotations and decisions compared to other players on the pitch? Does the player have the same level of mechanical skill of other players their rank?

If the player seems to be about the same level as all the other players their rank in both categories, they are probably more of a balanced player. If so go, look at a game a rank above the players skill level.

What are they doing differently compared to that player? Are they more mechanical? Are they faster to the ball? Are the rotations cleaner?

Find out what the difference is this will tell you what area the player needs to improve in. Being a balanced player can be a strength in itself.

Tool #2: ASK FOR HELP!!!

I know not the flashiest tool in the world, but one of the greatest solutions since the dawn of time.

You’re not good at looking at replays it’s okay. Just ask other people what they think your good at. What they think you need to improve at.

The PNWRL is a community first. If you ask around, I’m sure you could find a more experienced player to help you find some answers.

Once you have finished answering these questions as individuals you will have laid the foundation to finally figure out who you are as a team.

As a team you will want to figure out how to use the strengths of each individual part to make the whole the best it can possibly be. In my experience the best way to go about this is to experiment with different rotations, playstyles, and purposeful roles.

Go into casual or ranked and try to play with a wider rotation or tighter rotation. Play offense primarily off the backboard or infield passing. Have a player play a bit more cautiously and full send a player on offense. Try different playstyles until you find a way of playing the game that members on your team feel comfortable playing. Once you find something continuously build around that to develop a chemistry that is more unique to your team. Once your team knows how they want to rotate, and how each player can use their unique skill set. You can officially say that you know your team.

Cornerstone 2: Set Clear Expectations ​

“Expectation wasn’t just about what people expected of you. It was about what you expected of yourself”

Setting goals and expectations for a team can be tricky, and often dangerous depending on how you set them up.

In my experience asking how much the players are willing to commit to playing the game before settling on any kind of expectations is EXTREMELY important. Most people play rocket league for fun and having unrealistic expectations of how much time people are going to practice can really kill a team.

Rather than going through loads of drama due to busted expectations, set clear expectations of how much each player is willing to put into the team.

Not everybody has as open of a schedule or can commit to as much practice time as any given teammate or team. Understanding that can be key to helping a team keep a good mentality.

Instead, just make sure to set a baseline expectation for each player as an individual and your team. It could be something as loose as: Get one practice session in as a team outside of matches once a week and play a minimum of 3 hours of ranked a week.

The main point being here is that if you set individual and team expectations that are agreed upon by all parties it clarifies exactly what the minimum amount of effort to be expected is. People on the team need to be okay with and agree on what that amount is for a team to have a healthy environment for improvement.

Cornerstone 3: Adjustments are Necessary ​

“People tend to make the common mistake of believing that a situation will last forever.”

There are three different kinds of adjustments that I believe to be necessary for any successful team. They are as follows: Growth adjustments, Tactical adjustments, and Identity adjustments.

Growth Adjustments

Growth Adjustments are any kind of adjustments that have to do with personal or team growth.

A player on your team has improved mechanically over the last month. Your team is more comfortable playing together changing the strengths of the squad from when it was first formed.

The above are examples of Growth Adjustments. These kinds of adjustments are the easiest to deal with as a roster. They allow you to expand the tools in your toolbox that make up your identity as a team. The more tools you have the more dangerous and adaptable your team identity becomes.

Example 1

Team A is a pass-oriented team that likes to pepper the backboard on offense. They spend a lot of time in the midfield and try to spend most of their time on offense. Recently they have been able to predict where the other players on their team are at on the pitch significantly more often than when they first formed as a team.

Example 2

Team B enjoys playing staunch defense featuring lightning-fast counterattack offense. Recently Player A has learned how to air dribble and has much more precise touches in the air. While this should be a boon for Team B it seems to have hurt them. They have noticed that whenever Player A goes for an air dribble on offense, they are slower to return then they used to be creating larger defensive holes and slower counter attacks.


In example 1, a growth adjustment that Team A may look at would be trying to mix in more infield passes punishing opposing teams for committing to hard to backboard defense. While in example 2 even though a player has improved it has seemingly hurt the teams ability to function within their identity.

The team should look at the mechanic and see how it should be utilized within their playstyle.

In this specific case maybe player A uses his new found skill to buy his team time on defense when they are running out of boost by controlling the ball with an air dribble. While mainly focusing on using it offensively when he finds himself in the 1st position up field without teammates around him and a defender back to go for a solo play.

Remember that tools need to properly be utilized to become most effective. It is up to any given team to take advantage of growth and turn it into gains on the pitch.

Tactical Adjustments

Tactical Adjustments are adjustments that are made to help maintain your concurrent identity/playstyle or match another team’s playstyle.

For example, your team is playing a match against a team that excels in ground play, so you decide that you need to challenge earlier in the midfield than normal. This would be a tactical adjustment.

The unbreakable rule for any tactical adjustment is that THEY MUST FIT INTO HOW YOU PLAY AS A TEAM!

If you can’t do this then just focus on your own team and try to make different kinds of tactical adjustments within the structure that you are already good at.

For example, maybe Team A is good at solo plays, utilizes a wider rotation, and likes to slow the game down through the air. The Team B likes playing set defense and excels at in field passing plays. Rather than sitting in the passing lanes directly countering Team B, Team A focuses on maintaining their own wide rotations, but puts a heavier focus on getting bumps as each individual rotates in and out. This allows them to still play in wider rotations, and opens up space for teammates to outplay opponents 1 on 1.

Identity Adjustments

Identity Adjustments are any kind of adjustment that forces you to go back to Cornerstone 1.

These kinds of adjustments are caused by two different things.

The first possible cause is loss of identity through the constant breaking of the unbreakable rule for Tactical Adjustments mentioned above. When you never play to your teams’ strengths and get too caught up in trying to take away what the other team does best it can cause a complete loss in identity.

The second possible cause is through massive amounts of Growth Adjustments. Sometimes teams grow out of certain kinds of playstyles due to what players choose to improve on. Maybe your team starts out as a pass heavy team, but all train super heavily on your air mechanics.

Now maybe your players are actually best suited for a more slow paced playstyle with wider rotations. Revisiting cornerstone one if your players start to feel stunted by the team can be a very healthy and necessary exercise, and you may just find the identity adjustment needed to take the next step forward as a roster.

Cornerstone 4: Share Success and Failure

“Success is not final: failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

There are many ups and downs throughout a teams life span, and it is vitally important that all team members feel that their performance is tied to the success and failure of the team. This will ensure that the team is fully bought in and will keep a teams’ mental strong when the going gets tough.

There are many ways to work on this and every team will be different. Players personalities will matter a lot and how they view the game will affect how they feel they are doing.

In my personal experience the best way to share in both success and failure is to zoom out and look at the game holistically. Recognize the boost steal that somebody gets that makes it to where the goalie can’t get back to the shot. Recognize when a player leaves a teammate in a bad spot and share the blame.

If you can get your team to look at the bigger picture there will always be blame and credit to go around in droves. Focusing on that sometimes is absolutely imperative in reminding everybody that at the end of the day it’s a team game.

You need everybody pulling together in order to get the maximum out of your team. Shared success and failure will go a long ways in accomplishing that.