Dancing Games “Stamina/Technique Guide”

Author: Ryan “DukAmok” Iyengar

Ever since DDR first came out, people have wanted to know how to improve their machine dancing skills. This generally comes in either of two forms: “How do I pass this song?” or “How do I score better on this song?” The first is, of course, the more pressing issue to the newcomer, but still just as important to a more experienced player wishing to step to the next level.

If you don’t know me already, let me give you a brief intro of why you should follow my advice. I’ve been playing dancing games for fun (and much profit) for several years now, and over that period of time I have refined several techniques that greatly improve my game play without much real effort. If you need proof that the techniques work, just search on YouTube for some of my videos. Or, maybe you can take my advice based on testing out its merit for yourself. Try the latter: you might be in for a surprise.

So who is this guide for? Anyone. Even if you’ve barely started dancing, it’s never too early to get good technique going. And even if you already have 100 Tri-Stars, you may find some of this helpful as well. Basically, use as needed.

I. Endurance

In my opinion, Machine Dance isn’t really a true sport. That being said, it’s not exactly like it’s devoid of physical activity either. So, keeping up said physical activity for long periods of time is often draining. I’m not talking about over the course of one song; I’m talking about over the whole day. This is important if you want to apply any of this guide’s advice into your practice, you need to be able to actually practice for more than one or two sets a day for it to have a noticeable effect.

A. Warming up

Warming up is critical to performance in dancing games. I can cite many of my tournament performances as due to sitting still for hours and then immediately getting up and playing. We need to warm up to perform our best. The ideal warm up round can be described with a rough sort of equation: Take the hardest song you can pass without being totally winded, and subtract 1 or 2 from the block level. So if you’re passing Expert 10s without collapsing onto the pad, you should aim for 8s or 9s to warm up on. Keep in mind though, that if you go below that 1-2 block gap, you’ll find it doesn’t do much for your warming up. In other words, if you pass Tension without dying, but try to warm up with 6s or 7s, it really won’t do much for you. And the same goes for people who can pass 12s without breaking a sweat. 9s just don’t really cut it for warming up any more at that point.

So now that you have a rough estimate of your “warm-up” level, you can more effectively use the first few sets of your day. Typically the first few sets are not your best, but one of my favorite tricks is to use my warm up time to play songs I don’t normally enjoy playing for score. That way if I fluke a good score, I’ll be happy, but if I don’t, then at least I’m still warming up. Depending on your exact “stamina” level, warming up should take somewhere between 1-3 sets. The better “stamina” you have (used in quotes for arbitrary definition explained later), the less time it takes for you to be at peak playing condition. You’ll know when you hit that peak zone when you start feeling your legs loosen up. The first song of the day often is accompanied by a slightly tight feeling in your legs (if you’re like most people and don’t stretch that is), and once you feel that go away, you’re good to go. Now you can speed the process by stretching (mostly hamstrings, but don’t ignore your thighs either), but I find it’s more enjoyable to loosen up by simply playing.

B. Pacing

Just as it is important to warm up, it is important to keep on warming up throughout the day by pacing yourself. Don’t play 9 footers all day, and then expect to be able to jump to 13s at the end. You need to work towards it. Starting at your warm-up level, you should, generally speaking, always increase the level of the songs you play, until you can’t anymore. If you’ve chosen your warm-up difficulty correctly, you should be able to slowly advance through 2-3 block levels before beginning to feel the need to take longer breaks. When you reach the point of playing songs you fail, however, it’s the time to start backing off, and maybe try implementing the next section.

C. Take a break

So, when you actually feel tired, that’s a good time to take a break. Let your body tell you when you need to stop, and when you’re good to go again. Go get some water, maybe get something to eat if you want, use the bathroom… But make sure you don’t just sit still. Make sure you are walking around, or stretching out your legs at least. You don’t want to stiffen up. Time spent resting is just as important as time spent playing, especially in terms of long term performance. The longer you sit and rest, the less tired you become. This is good. However, you also become less warmed up. This is not good. So keep in mind, that after a long rest approximately 30 minutes to an hour), you may need to warm up again to get back to where you left off. And finally, make sure you leave when you should. Staying for a few extra games might be fun, but if you press yourself too hard in one day, you’ll feel it the next. And that’s not a good thing.

D. Address problems as they arise

Even if you’ve warmed up correctly, paced yourself, taken breaks, and done everything right, things can still go wrong. Your leg can cramp up, you can stub your toe, a contact falls out, basically anything can happen. These sorts of problems are generally avoided by taking the correct precautions listed above, but here a few common problems and easy fixes:

1. Cramps/Muscle problems

Sometimes, your leg muscles will just cramp up, or maybe not work correctly, or maybe just kind of hurt. If you have a very specific pain, you should immediately stop and try and address it. Believe me when I say that playing through the pain only makes it worse. I managed to get through Pandemonium while my right calf was killing me, but for almost a week afterwards it hurt like hell. Not smart unless you have a damn good reason (like I did, it was a tournament match). So step off the pad, and take a break. Sit down, and isolate what exactly is going on. If it’s a muscle that’s hurting, try stretching it out, or massaging it. If you can’t make it die down within a few minutes, you should probably call it a day. Leg cramps can happen if you don’t stretch out enough, or don’t drink enough water. Warming up typically provides enough “stretching” for me, but if you habitually get cramps, you should either increase your warm-up time or start stretching more. Side aches are also relatively common. The most common cause is lack of oxygen; some deep inward breaths with forceful outward breaths always did the trick in a few seconds for me.

2. Oops I hurt myself

Ouch, you tripped on the pad and now your knee hurts. You “accidentally” kicked the machine after getting more pad Way Offs than Excellents and now your toe hurts. The smartest thing to do in these situations is to just take a break. If you’ve hurt yourself seriously, of course, quickly inform your mother so she can kiss your boo-boo and put a Band-Aid on it. If it’s less serious, just ice it, heat it, massage it, or whatever else you can do that makes it feel better basically. Don’t try to ignore it and be macho to impress the ladies, that ship has already sailed, you’re reading a guide on dancing games.

II. Stamina – Physical

The difference between “Endurance” and “Stamina” (at least in this FAQ), is that stamina deals with one song, and endurance deals with more than one. Simple as that. So having the stamina to pass Pandemonium Expert, for instance, directly relies on having good endurance, but also on a number of other, more specific factors.

A. Bar use

Stamina in dancing games is based entirely on efficiency. Least input for maximum output. There is no debate whatsoever that playing with the bar ridiculously decreases the amount of effort required to play the game; so naturally, bar use is a must to have good stamina. There is no debate on this, if you insist on not using it, be my guest, but don’t come whining to me when you can’t apply something in this guide. All of these techniques are molded around a bar playing style, because it’s simply the most efficient to date.

That being said, you must keep in mind not to over-use the bar. The bar is not supposed to hold all of your body weight aloft while your feet dangle. It is most efficiently used as a balancing tool, not somehow as a suspension. This is a common misconception, and leads to some bad habits. Biggest bad habit? Crouching. During difficult sections of songs, players tend to lean more onto the bar, and end up lowering their total stance by a foot or so, sometimes more. This does not help. Repeat: Crouching doesn’t help. It basically comes from the idea that, if holding the bar a little helps a little, then holding the bar a lot must help a ton! No, all it does is hurt your arms and back, and make you look like an idiot. The ideal weight distribution on the bar depends on your height and weight, but it should be not that much more than what you normally would lean on a counter or anything else. What’s much more important is the variance in the weight you put on the bar. When you’re holding the bar and stepping on 4th notes, your weight on it should not increase dramatically for 8th notes, or even 16th notes and beyond. Instead of taking the weight off of your feet, it is much more useful to learn how to effectively apply that weight.

Also incredibly important, move your upper body as little as possible. I don’t mean to say stand as stiff as a board, but you most definitely want to eliminate needless motion, it only wastes valuable energy that could go towards moving your feet instead.

B. Foot Movement

Again, in the thread of “efficiency”, we want as little effort as possible to move our feet around. Naturally, we’ll want to move them as little as possible. The nature of different machines often leads to complications from such minimalist play style, but once you really learn it, the control of movement you now have allows you to adapt to most any machine with little difficulty. So basically, the aim is to move your foot exactly where you want it, in the shortest way possible. Its this idea that lead us to the “alternate feet” style of play, as it requires less effort than one foot hitting all the arrows (uh duh). It also leads us to crossovers and switching feet, and other advanced techniques.

The main focus is simply this: Hit the innermost sensors on all panels. A standard machine has 4 sensors, one on each edge of the square, and that innermost one is the most important. Any stepping outside of this zone is movement wasted, and over time leads to worse stamina overall. With which part of your foot to hit that sensor is much more important, and is the subject of the next section.

C. Foot Control

Many people have split themselves into either “flat-footed” or “toes” styles of play. I disagree with this; I instead advocate a “whole foot” style of play. I use my toes when they are the best choice, and I use my heels as well. It is very situational, and very open to adaptation. I strongly suggest switching to this “whole foot” style, and maximizing the whole surface area of your foot, not arbitrarily confining yourself to one or two small sections.

Fine foot control is based mainly around the ankle and smaller foot muscles. You use these muscles to bend and twist your foot in such a way so that as your leg moves it towards the panel, the optimum surface of your foot is already in position. So if your right foot is approaching the Up arrow, you should naturally start to angle your foot down towards your toe, and even curve slightly if you can do so. Hitting with the “toe” part of your foot (its actually the ball) as opposed to the heel or middle, allows for a great decrease in actual foot movement, as it takes at least 6-8 inches off of your actual travel distance. Similarly, the opposite would be true for the down arrow. Bend your foot upwards, and your heel should be the main part in contact with the arrow.

I can’t stress how important this is to learn how to implement effectively. Learn how to angle and curve your feet, and you will save yourself tons of energy. A good practice for learning how to control angles of your feet (as well as build muscles you probably didn’t know you had) is to “heel-toe” songs, also known as “bracket-raping”. This is done by your right foot across a “right” corner (typically U/R, but can also be D/R), and your left foot across the opposite corner. This should leave you with your right toe on the up arrow, right heel on the right arrow, left toe on the left arrow, and left heel on the down arrow. With a simple angle of your foot, you can trigger any panel. Of course, it takes some work to learn how to effectively control this, but it’s great for building the muscles and control needed to effectively control your feet during normal game play as well. I’m just briefly touching on it here, but there’s much more on this subject. Maybe I’ll write something on it later.

D. Breathing

Make sure you are breathing when you’re dancing. I know it sounds obvious, but oftentimes, with your concentration so focused on other things, you forget to breathe correctly, and consequently it starts getting shallow. If you start breathing incorrectly mid-song, it can have some obvious effects. You suddenly won’t be able to finish the song, and will be out of breath more than normal. But thankfully it’s easy to fix. Just every so often check on yourself. Are you breathing naturally? If not, concentrate on taking some larger breaths. It may seem like a small thing, but small things add up.

III. Stamina – Mental

Dancing games are unique in that they are the most physically active video games around. However, that doesn’t mean your mind isn’t in gear as well. Even disregarding the difficult task of mentally timing your steps correctly, there are several other factors you should think about to maximize your stamina.

A. Know Yourself

Every person is different, and has different strengths and weaknesses. No one can know those better than yourself, so take the time, and evaluate exactly what it is your body does. I can’t possibly go into everything that might be unique to your body, so you’re mainly on your own here. Luckily for you, though, the human body is good at telling you about what’s going on. It’s hard to miss the signs of tiredness, such as being short of breath, dry mouth, legs feeling like Jell-O, etc. Learn the precursors to these signs as well, and you’ll be able to head them off at the pass by taking breaks, eating, drinking water, or whatever it is your body needs to replenish itself.

B. Conservation

Using your knowledge of yourself, you should be able to gauge on a rough scale how tired you are. So if I’m at an 80 on the overall “tiredness scale” (where 0 is fresh and 100 is passed out on the pad), I’ll naturally want to conserve my remaining energy as much as possible. However, if I’m at a 0, I’m free to try much harder. “Trying” here, is a generalization that includes many things, such as minimizing movements of your upper and lower body, or switching play styles. All these things should become second nature to you, so that you can control them with an overall idea. Learn how to expend energy at a 10% level of normal, as well as learning how to give it your absolute complete all, as in the next section.

C. Push Yourself

Now that you’ve learned how to gauge how tired you are, you should be able to push yourself much farther than you thought you could. I guarantee that when most people give up on songs and say they are “too tired”; they have at least a little bit left in them. You need to dig deep to pull that little bit out, but believe me, its one of the most rewarding feelings in dancing games when you use that extra tiny bit to go that extra mile. Every time you push yourself that far, you’ll be much more drained afterwards, and need a much longer break, but after that break, you’ll find that you will be able to push even farther the next time.

IV. Miscellaneous

This is the section where everything goes that I couldn’t really fit into one of the three main headings. It’s not less important, though, so pay attention!

A. Cross-Training

Playing other sports and doing other activities is great. I highly recommend that if you haven’t already, pick up a sport. They’re entertaining, and hell, more socially acceptable than dancing games. However, there is no immediate direct correlation between those sports and dancing games. There are many indirect consequences that are beneficial, such as improved cardio, or stronger leg muscles, but due to the highly specific nature of dancing games, most of these things will only help in a very general sense. Don’t let that discourage you, if you haven’t tried running or other sports, do yourself a favor and experiment with some. It most definitely will not hurt your dancing game stamina.

B. Sleep

This is often a problem before major tournaments, when people are having a good time and partying till the wee hours of the morning, and only get a couple of hours of sleep before playing. This is not good. You might be able to muscle through it, but I guarantee you, you won’t be playing up to your full potential. Getting a full nights rest is incredibly important to having a good day at the arcade.

C. Nutrition

Another often overlooked necessity is eating and drinking habits. Now I’m not going to judge your lifestyle, but if your diet consists of over 80% fast food, and your liquid intake is at least 75% soda, I don’t think you can be surprised if you’re feeling a little tired after a few sets of dancing. Cutting soda and fast food out of your diet is not an easy task, but if you can manage to bring it at least to a lower level, you should notice a significant improvement. Soda, for one, is incredibly easy to get over. An occasional drink or two won’t kill you, but your drink of choice, especially while dancing, should most definitely be water. Some people swear by energy drinks, but I for one think that their effect is primarily a placebo. Water or Gatorade/Powerade works just as well, in fact better, to replenish the liquid in your system.

Make sure you eat before you go to play as well. Not immediately before, though, allow at least 30 minutes to an hour between eating and playing, so your food can actually get digested. Eating afterwards is a good idea as well. Your body needs fuel, and if you don’t provide it, you’ll definitely start to feel the negative side-effects.

D. Proper Attire

You can often tell a serious player from the way they dress. I have no problem with players dancing in their casual street clothes, but you’ll find if you seriously want to improve, there are much better playing clothes than jeans and a t-shirt. Basketball or athletic shorts are great, they allow for much freedom of movement, and you can pick some up for 10 bucks or so at Target or Wal-Mart. I also recommend a similar “athletic” shirt to match. Regular T-Shirts soak up sweat like nobody’s business, and not only is it unsightly and uncomfortable, its just plain gross. A “wicking” shirt is great, it takes the sweat away from your body and dries off in 5 minutes flat, but they can be somewhat expensive. Just try and find a decent shirt that will dry quickly and you should do fine.

Shoes are also incredibly important. The most important factor here is comfort. There is no one clearly superior brand or style of shoe, all that matters is what you feel comfortable in. Skate shoes are decent, they’re great for having a big flat area to work with, but tend to be on the loose and heavy side. Running shoes are often too light-weight to have the solid surface I like to have making contact with the pads. Basketball shoes are just damn expensive. I’ve heard good things about Nike Frees as well. I personally prefer a Cross-Trainer, something that’s not too light, has a nice flat sole, but not too bulky or heavy either. But like I said, it ultimately comes down to what you feel most comfortable wearing. I just recommend you have a pair specifically for dancing. If that’s not within your budget, that’s fine, but if it ever becomes available, a good pair of shoes is one of the best investments you can make towards this game.

E. Edits

Most official stepcharts tend to get boring after a while. How can you expect to improve if you can’t even bring yourself to play the songs over and over again? This is where the magic of edits comes in. Bringing steps from home is a wonderful way to keep your interest flowing, and you can even bring your own if you want. In fact, I recommend trying to custom make some of your own edits (there are tons of FAQs on the subject, look around) that are tailored to what you need. If you’re having trouble with crossovers, make an edit that tests you on them. Or find someone else’s that does. Or just play them for the pure joy of it. Regardless of who made the steps, if you’re playing them, you’re improving your stamina, and that’s what this is all about.

F. Competition

Competition is a great motivator. Whether it’s with your buddies for high scores on your local machine, or maybe in a local tournament for cash, or even across the internet, competition is what this game is all about. If you have the dedication and willpower to be able to improve yourself without any competition, more power to you, but I guarantee you its easier to try and get a good score when you know you can rub your buddies face in it. And if he’s a good sport, he’ll improve as well, and try to rub your face in it. I’m not trying to promote antagonism, rather, I’m pointing out the benefits direct competition has on overall motivation. I’ve seen it for myself in Southern California. We have some of the most actively competitive people around in our community, and as a result the community as a whole is constantly improving.

G. Weight-Loss

Many people are curious about dancing games and how they affect overall weight gain or loss. I for one have never seen anyone lose weight purely from dancing games. Using them as an exercise tool as a part of a healthy lifestyle, however, can be extremely beneficial to your health and weight. Don’t expect to lose pounds a day purely from playing 9 footers, but I can highly recommend using dancing games as a form of exercise if other methods don’t appeal to you.

V. Application

Now, so far, this advice has been relatively general. In this section I’ll try to apply these general concepts to common trouble spots for up and coming players. Forgive me if I don’t go in depth about how to apply these to 4th or 8th notes, because at that point there is simply not as much need for these techniques.

A. 16th Runs

16th runs. Every player has had trouble with these at one point in their lives, whether they are as slow as Turn it On or as quick as Summer. The key lies in precise control. What often becomes a problem is a player’s natural tendency to rush. It is the exact same problem seen the world over in amateur musicians, who when faced with more notes than they’re usually comfortable with, tend to rush the tempo. And also often forgotten about is that dancing games judge just as harshly for rushing as for lagging behind. So, the most important thing is to stay on beat. This is made much easier when you apply II.C, fine foot control, to the problem. When you move your feet over a lesser distance, there is less chance of you accidentally speeding up or slowing down, as well as a greater chance of you actually hitting the arrow. Keep in mind you should stay within your comfort range, and gradually increase that range as it becomes easier. In other words, simply             gradually ramp up the difficulty level (BPM can often be used to help with this), and you should have little problem. Remember that it takes time as well, and practice makes perfect.

B. 8th Step-Jumps

Found in such songs as Fly With Me Expert, Charlene Expert, and Lemmings on the Run Expert, Step-Jumps are often a roadblock for the improving player. The trick to these is extremely similar to that for Runs. That is, slow down. Another handy trick is to use your newfound foot control to change surfaces of your feet on these. I for one find “slapping” my toes, or using my ankle to power my toe downwards as well as my leg, is rather helpful for keeping a steady beat on this sort of pattern. But again, minimizing foot movement helps to minimize the margin for error here as well.

C. 8th Jackhammers

These are primarily found in such songs as Disconnected and Disconnected ~Hyper~. Long strings of 8th notes all on one panel. The most common problem here is simply that your foot does not cooperate correctly, and kind of spazzes out, resulting in Greats, if not Combo Breaks. There are two easy solutions to this. The first involves using two feet on one panel. I do not recommend this tactic. While it solves the immediate problem at hand, it sidesteps an underlying issue of foot control that needs to be addressed if the player wishes to improve. Raw foot speed does not appear out of thin air. It requires practice. I recommend Exercise 1 (foot tapping) to help get over this particular hurdle.

D. 16th Step Jumps

As seen in such songs as Tell Expert, Pandemonium Expert, and Energizer Expert, 16th step jumps are not for the beginner. Definitely one of the harder patterns to master, it requires very precise foot control. There are a number of tactics for getting through these. The initial tactic, when first trying to pass the song, is to simply ignore the rhythm. In other words, treat a 4-6-46 simply as two 46-46 8th jumps. This should yield two Fantastics and a Great; however, it’s much more common to see varied judgments when applying this tactic. Once you have reached the level of passing the song consistently, the next level is to try to use triplets and ITG’s large jump window to your advantage. For the same 4-6-46, try stepping 4-6-4-6 in a quick 24th note rhythm (think of Hardcore of the North Expert, or perhaps Anubis Expert, albeit at a much faster pace). If executed correctly, it should yield 2 Fantastics and an Excellent.

These methods are still not perfect however, for the truly advanced players, who wish to achieve all Fantastics. The common method for this is to simply try to step as quickly as possible, and hope for the best. I find that this is inconsistent at best, and yields far too many non-combos to be useful. The absolute best method I have found involves rather fine foot control, don’t be discouraged if you don’t pick it up. The foot that steps on two 8th notes (in our previous example, 4-6-46, this is the left foot), we can safely ignore, this is not the problem area. The problem is with the foot double tapping at a 16th speed, the right foot in this case. The best method I have found involves bringing your foot slightly higher than normal, and bring it down angled forward, to step mainly on the ball of your foot, then immediately after contact, tilting your foot back to a more level position, and hitting the panel again with your now flat foot. It’s kind of hard to get the hang of, but so far it has the highest Fantastic rate of any method I’ve tried.

E. Crossovers

As seen in such songs as Mythology Expert, The Beginning Expert, and Bloodrush Expert. A crossover is defined as any time one leg passes in front of the other and keeps going, a quarter turn past in most cases. The problem most commonly faced is overextension. People seem to forget how close together the panels really are, and end up stretching to ridiculous lengths, and end up triggering the outside sensor. Not a good idea when you’re trying to conserve energy. Players also have a tendency to rise up on their toes a lot. I’m not sure why exactly this happens almost unconsciously in most people, but it doesn’t help as much as you’d imagine.

So the best way I’ve found to hit crossovers is to not move as far. Use the back of your right foot to start a 6 2 4 crossover, and use the front to end it. Exactly how you should be doing an 8 4 2 as well, just turned sideways. The only complication with simple crossovers like these is the bar. Twisting your body in a half turn with your arms staying stationary behind you isn’t very comfortable, especially if you’re not that flexible. It can help to release the bar with one hand and use the hand that’s turned away from the machine to steady yourself. If you have been using the bar correctly, and not putting that much weight on it, mainly using it for balance, this should be fairly intuitive. If you need a specific view of how to do it, I recommend checking out a few of Kevbo’s videos, his Bloodrush, specifically. His technique is great on these songs, because he doesn’t overextend, releases a hand from the bar, and remains relatively flat footed as well. It’s no surprise that he still holds the record on Bloodrush with such great technique.

16th note crossovers are not the only confusing crossover pattern, however. Many other songs like Oasis Expert and Funk Factory use “Turn-Freezes”, which uses over-extended freezes to make your foot to stay on the note and force you to turn sideways, even with slow 4th note rhythms. However, if these trip you enough that you can’t seem to FA them consistently, try switching feet. Due to the immensely huge freeze window in ITG, you can safely switch the feet holding it without dropping it. This can be incredibly helpful on those annoying songs that keep you facing backwards the whole time for no apparent reason. I searched around a bit and I haven’t found a good video that demonstrates this to it’s full potential, I think I’ll make one of Oasis later to show exactly how you do it. The basic concept is that every time the steps lead you towards turning backwards, on the exact step that it does force a backwards turn, instead switch feet. So in Oasis, a pattern of 4 2 6 4 8 6, you would first switch feet on the first 6, then again on the second. It’s hard to explain in words, expect a video of Oasis without unnecessary turning soon.

F. Hands

Hands are, in my humble opinion, the most annoying aspect of the game of ITG. The pads are simply not built to register hands as well as feet, and the problem is exacerbated by pads in poor condition. However, we have to deal with that fact, and there are a number of tricks you can implement to make hands easier on yourself.

First of all, make sure you’re hitting hands correctly. Don’t slap the panel, your force will be distributed across all 4 sensors of the panel, and makes you more likely to get Misses. Instead, “lean on” or “push” the panels for best results. Remember, its not how loud you hit the panel that affects whether or not it registers, it’s the direct amount of pressure exerted on any particular sensor. So I recommend trying to stiff-arm them.

You can “cheat” hands by simply using your feet to hit them. With triples and quads, this is relatively easy, but there’s a key game play mechanic to keep in mind when using your feet to hit more than one arrow at a time. ITG registers jumps, triples, and quads all on the last arrow of said multi-arrow hit. So in other words, you can treat a 46 jump as a 4 6 16th note gallop (assuming the bpm is such that a 16th is within the decent window), and just as long as the last arrow you hit (6), is directly on beat, you’ll get a fantastic. Similar to how you can cheat Tell step-jumps with 24ths. So for triples, you can treat a 426 triple as 16th a note 6 42 gallop and still get a fantastic. For triples and quads, I prefer the somewhat more difficult, but also more reliable, stomp method. You simply treat it as a jump, but any foot hitting more than one arrow, instead of simply coming straight down on an arrow, quickly rolls across the bracket, triggering one and then the other arrow with very little time in between.

Triples created with freeze arrows, such as in Queen of Light, are slightly harder to cheat. While holding one freeze with a foot, you must quickly take the foot off, hit the arrow, and then bring your foot back onto the freeze. This is most easily accomplished by again utilizing the ends of your feet. If you need to move your foot forward to hit a hand, make sure you’re holding the freeze with your heel. To move backwards, just hold the freeze with your toe. Don’t worry about holding the freeze while you’re hitting the arrow; just make sure you get back onto the freeze relatively quickly after. The window is large, but not that large. This tactic is most helpful on songs that are maybe too fast or too awkward to go down for hands on, like Monolith or Summer.

VI. Easy Exercises

Here are some easy exercises you can do to help improve your overall stamina and control. These don’t take much time, and most can be done when you’re sitting bored in class or work or watching TV or whatever it is that you do.

A.    Foot Tapping

This is by far the easiest, and yet most beneficial exercise I’ve ever found for dancing games. Simply place your heel on the ground, and tap your toe up and down. Not randomly, try and keep a steady beat going. 150bpm 8th notes are generally a decent starting point, but feel free to start slower if you need to. You should go as fast as you can while keeping a steady beat. Keep it up for a minute or two. If you haven’t started feeling the burn yet, kick it up a notch or two. You should start feeling the muscles on the front side of your ankle (on top of your foot, near where your leg connects) start to burn a little. Sometimes the outside of your foot will as well. Don’t overdo it, if it starts to hurt, switch feet, or take a break.

This should help you not only with faster jackhammers and runs; it also helps with just overall fine foot control. In other words, your foot should be more limber, more willing to do what you want it to do.

B. Stretching

Just flex your toes inward to stretch your hamstrings. Easy as pie to do while sitting in a chair. Also, point your toes outward too to mix things up. Just while you’re sitting still for a while, try to stretch all the leg muscles you can. You can stretch a surprising number of muscles while remaining in a relatively relaxed position.

C. Lifts

If you happen to be near an edge of some sort, for instance, the edge of the pad of a dancing game machine, hop on up and hang your heels off the edge. Then proceed to slowly lift yourself up using your calves, and then slowly lower your heels below the level of the pad. Rinse and repeat. Does wonders for calf strength, which is vital to having quick feet.

VII. You Rock!

I hope that you found this guide helpful to your dancing game pursuits. If after reading the guide fully, you still have a question pertaining to a subject not covered specifically, feel free to ask me about it. I will try to help as best I can, and if it seems to be a major enough subject, I may edit the guide to reflect it. Keep in mind, though, that the best way to learn is through self-discovery. I can only tell you so much, you have to go the next step and understand it to truly improve. In the meantime, however, keep dancing like maniacs on the floor. Keep dancing like you’ve never danced before.

Some special thanks are in order:

Team IHYD – For being awesome.

Ruben/Ninzaburo – Helping brainstorm many of the concepts outlined here.

Cory/Kiba – For getting me to start thinking about things.

Omid/Dimo – Editing so I don’t sound like a ******, being awesome, and hosting.

Zaitsec – For suggesting illustrations.

Revision History:

v1.0 – 5,100 words. Main bases covered.

v1.1 – 6,500 words. Changed formatting. Added I: D. Cramps, V: E. Crossovers, and V: F. Hands

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