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June 11, 2012, 04:26:00 PM - ORIGINAL POST -

This is probably no new news to most people here, but I think I have come across a reason why many people are lagging behind stamina wise and other people are rocketing above and beyond the 13, 14, and even 15 range.

Logically, to conserve stamina you must play minimally. You must hit the very edge of the sensors with the respective edge of your foot while lifting it as few millimeters above the pad as possible between steps. Don't actually jump for "jumps" and cheat every hand you can (there are a few where that isn't much a viable option) because bending down and snapping back up takes a stamina toll. Mines may come as a case by case basis, but I've found that if push comes to shove, stepping in the middle as usually better than awkwardly raising one leg and keeping it there for a bit and ALWAYS better than jumping.

Also, everyone knows that diet and exercise play a massive factor in stamina so even if your form is perfect, your muscle mass, heart rate, and frankly overall weight are going to hinder you if you're not in shape. There are many guides to getting in good physical shape (and frankly dance games are great for cardio so there ya go) but I think a lot of people forget to properly hydrate or just plain eat better (or less in certain cases).

But that's not why I'm here. I've found something that makes perfect sense but I don't think gets a lot of attention. It is the concept of breaking inertia. When standing still on your pad, your feet are more or less objects at rest, and you quickly want them to become furious flying forces of fast! Well, that obviously takes a lot of energy, in fact, I would argue that takes more energy than already moving your foot inside of a stream (per step, not in total obviously).

I've found that I tend to give the excuse that I have no stamina, I'm out of shape, I'm out of practice, or just generally that I'm getting too old for this. I used to be able to do a lot better, then took a hiatus, and now I struggle with things that I used to FA quite easily.

However, out of shits and giggles, I just tried Phoning to Mercury. It's a 13 with a fair amount of burst speed in it and one solid length (admittedly drilly) 24th run at 132. That's faster than the 16th streams in Monolith Expert Doubles!

Well, I passed it. It wasn't exactly a sightread because I've done it a dozen times on Stepmania, but the first time I belly up to try it on pad I pass it, when 11's and 12's are very challenging to me at the moment.

I have a theory that it's due to the concept of inertia. My form, which I'm admitting is not perfect at all, assumes I'm doing a difficult and more importantly relentless song. Apparently I SUCK at breaks. I'm atrocious at breaks. I stand and press my considerable weight (not being emo, I'm just one of the bigger dance players you'll find) own on my feet, and then I have to break inertia. I find I'm not resting in sections without any notes, literally no notes, but I'm still draining energy.

This seems crazy, but have you every been told not to stand still after you go out for a run or jog? I think the same reasoning applies. When I do a challenging and tiring set at DDR/ITG/PiU, I either sit or pace, and honestly, I usually pace a bit before I stand. I think this the reason why I'm the only person I know that can pass singles and doubles regularly at the same difficulty tiers. (When I'm struggling with 12's on single, I'm also on 12's in double). Doubles FORCES me not to stand. Even with sections with no notes, the chart OFTEN has the next note on a different part of the double pad then I'm currently standing forcing me to move. Singles is very stand still to me, but apparently, that factor gets eliminated in the higher difficulties such as when I tried Phoning to Mercury just now.

I would love to do more research on this theory, and it might be due to my 250lb body that I'm working with (I only dropped that because I think it's an important factor to the phenomenon I'm talking about), but I currently think standing perfectly still in breaks might actually hamper you as it is not a good way to regain stamina. Even a simple switching mass from one leg to another during these sections might be a lot better in the long run, because after all, don't you naturally want to switch weight when standing in a line for an hour? (hello disneyland)
Read June 11, 2012, 08:34:23 PM #1

This is true to a point. Think of most of the ITG stamina custom songs written a few years back. They were nothing but stream for 90% of the entire song. Even if the music had short breaks in the rhythm, the chart didn't (Uber Rave's end run anyone?). I agree that continuous stream is easier than stream with occasional breaks, but I must say that physical condition trumps all. When I was 10 lb lighter than I am presently, stamina intensive songs were MUCH easier.
Read June 11, 2012, 11:05:34 PM #2

You both have good points. Other factors you missed are step patterns themselves. One reason Phoning to mercury is easier than other 13's is because the patterns are not big in movement. Mostly Drills and 3 step patterns (left, down, up, down etc...)
I agree with you though,  stuff like a constant stream of 16ths that are candle steps (final death run on Legend of Max) is much harder because you actually have to move.
Read June 13, 2012, 09:08:56 AM #3

This seems crazy, but have you every been told not to stand still after you go out for a run or jog? I think the same reasoning applies.
I find it funny I've been saying this same thing for a couple years now. Evidently few notice how when I play marathon songs (or any stamina song really) almost every time theres a rest I'll squat down to stretch my quads, or shake my legs out. You see ITG/DDR use only a very small part of your muscle range, and doing this helps to regulate lactic acid buildup in the muscle, and keeps you moving, etc. as you said (though 'inertia' technically doesn't really have anything to do with it).

I also find it funny how few people STRETCH before they play, and how many people want to crusade into 12s+ on their first set and then get burnt out by their third set. Take a real warmup, 9s/10s for a set , then 10s/11s maybe for a set, then do hard stuff when warmed up.

In addition, diet makes a big difference. One should note it takes about 2 hours for food to even start to give you energy via its digestion, and ideally you should have about 1 gram of protein per 3-4g of carbohydrates (and in my experience typically about 5-700 calories a couple hours before play for optimal energy).

Also, just being nitpicky:
24th run at 132. That's faster than the 16th streams in Monolith Expert Doubles!

Thats 2 BPM (16th note equivalent) faster than Monolith, i.e. basically negligible difference...

And also
generally that I'm getting too old for this.
When I was 23 I basically couldn't pass any 13s with any degree of regularity and now I can pass 15s, so you're not too old hehe... Just takes practice and dedication... No pain no gain, as it were.  Wink

« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 09:19:36 AM by Gerrak »
Read June 13, 2012, 11:30:37 AM #4

I think it's things that are associated with age that make one less capable at DDR/ITG/PIU. I was in my peak physical shape when I was finishing up my last years of graduate school when I was 26-27. However, once I was done with school, a few things converged to create the (relative) slump I'm in now.

1)    Full time work sucks.
Having a desk job that I sit at for 9+ hours a day is surprisingly draining. When I get home, the last thing I feel like doing is dance games. In college a class might last 2 or 3 hours, but then you got a break and a bit of exercise hiking to the next class across campus. I don't get those recesses anymore.
In addition, my classes were (usually) over with my 3pm. I could head out to DDR for 2 hours, get an awesome workout, then have dinner around 6 and head back and spend a nice relaxing evening doing whatever I needed to before starting my day tomorrow. With my current schedule I get home and it's already 6:30pm. If I do DDR, it'll push dinner back until at LEAST 8:30 or 9pm, then I eat and basically go to bed (which is a terrible thing to do). There is little to no flexibility in this routine. If I want to do DDR during the week, this is my only option.

2)   Life's Responsibilities eat your free time.
We all know that DDR is unique in that the social aspect is a key reason many of us play as hard as we do. It's easy to be this way when you (and your associates) have the freedom to meet regularly for this activity. However, as you get older you start getting more obligations and responsibilities that rest on your shoulders. Many people think it's sweet that I have my own dedicab in my garage (and it is), but the house it resides in comes with associated problems and chores. Unlike an apartment, I have to keep my house and yard maintenanced or else it will fall apart and I'll get in trouble from the homeowner's association. This takes even more of my (already little) time, energy, and attention.

3)   Dance Friends get busy, too.
As you and your friends grow older, they also have more and more responsibilities. This means that during the rare times YOU have some free time, it becomes increasingly doubtful they will too. This often turns what used to be a 2-3 times a week hangout into something you do 2 times a month. I think Keby and his DigiPen classes knows exactly what I'm talking about here. Now imagine if that was what you did as a full time job, week after week.

Age and physical degradation (if you're less than ~35) aren't the main culprits for a decline in DDR/ITG ability as you get older. I believe it's social factors and other related responsibilities in your life; like your job, the availability of your friends, and the constantly diminishing lack of free time that cause people in their mid to late 20's to start going downhill regarding dance games.
Eric aka Scrambles
Read June 14, 2012, 03:37:12 PM #5

aw man, I am totally in my mid to late 20s.
While I've only recently improved enough to pass certain 11s, I don't see myself able to invest the time necessary to advance beyond that level. I still have fun when I get the chance to roll down to ACME, though.
Read June 16, 2012, 12:36:43 PM #6

I've found the biggest gains to my stamina (going from one 12 means I'm wiped and can't play anything above a 10 for the rest of the day to being able to play a 12 or 13 at the end of every set after warming up) came from building up the relevant muscles - the game got much easier (and my knee problems went away) once I started going to the gym regularly to do squats - in general, the stronger my legs, the easier the game gets.  This falls right in line with Gerrak's point - by making the movement take a smaller portion of your total strength, you have less lactic acid building up in your legs (at least by density if not by total amount).  Stretching helps a lot, too - I don't do quite as much mid-song, but I stretch between songs constantly - it's becoming hard to stretch my quads to the point of feeling any tension because they've gotten so flexible after so much stretching.

Inertia/momentum shifts is/are definitely a factor, too, though.  A good example is Sweet Things - I find the one-step breaks to be extremely tiring relative to any less choppy stream in the 130 range.
Read June 21, 2012, 10:43:02 AM #7

I discovered something like this quite a while ago; I remember that I would deliberately keep moving during the break in MAX300 to keep the "momentum" going.

As for me, it's... possibly a time commitment issue. Dance games (and rhythm games in general) have gotten pretty stale to me, so I'm not willing to actively free up time in my schedule for them. If I was still unemployed, I might have time for both rhythm games and my newer hobbies, but I'm glad that is not the case.
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