Since the topic of footsies has come up recently, some have asked for a thread to explain them more in detail. This thread is to accomplish just that.
Footsies are a high level tactic utilized in nearly every fighter. Some games use them similarly, others have different methods. But the general idea of what footsies are remains consistent.
When you hear the term "footsies", you automatically think of a foot and things in fighters related to that. Whether it be a short, forward or roundhouse in SF, or a LK, HK/FK, BK in MK. I've even heard people say games like UMK3 don't have footsies because you use jabs more than your kicks/sweeps. So it's obvious there's some confusion on what footsies actually are. Think of footsies more of knowledge and mind games.
Footsies are understanding what your opponent is or wants to do, then punishing them for it. You force your opponent into a situation they don't choose to be in. Footsies are knowing your character AND your opponents character's max range and exploiting that knowledge.
An example of footsies that is more visual is something I call "the shimmy". This is when you walk back and forward in and out of the range of your opponent's max range, then baiting out that attack and whiff punishing or block punishing accordingly.
Footsies aren't something you can pick up quickly. They're complex and require rigorous training, practice and experience to use them effectively. I'll go over some general tips on how to get started with your own footsie game.
-The shimmy is something more on the easier side that you can practice. The reason this works so well is because you're abusing your opponents natural reactions. Just practice going in and out of your opponents range, really enticing him to react. Make sure you're ready for him to react, because that's what you want. Then punish him for it. Knowing what you can and can't punish with is key to mastering the shimmy.
-After you get the shimmy down, now comes the throw mind games. Once you condition your opponent into playing your footsie game, he's not going to want to press anything. This allows you to simply walk or dash up and throw him. He'll be so worried about your shimmy his reactions will be slower on teching the throw.
-Really understand where your combo's and block strings leave your opponent space wise. Forcing your opponent to play at the range YOU want just by doing a certain combo is really advantageous. Even if you have to finish the combo earlier to get the correct space you want, it's usually going to be worth it.
-Similar to the shimmy, you can use your own normals to bait out counters to them. Get in range so that your c.lk doesn't hit them, but also their counter whiffs you as well. They may think you're going for a sweep and try to punish it on reaction or habit.
-It's really important to study your opponent. If their behavior changes, and they move further from you than their max range, they may be looking to bait you into advancing. Whether that be jumping, dashing or even just walking. I know personally I do this a lot in UMK3. I will just walk back randomly and it's like it's a sign for my opponent to jump at me, then I get a free anti-air. This also means paying attention to their meter and life bar. If they have 3 bars, they will probably be less cautious and more aggressive. If they have no meter they will want to build it. You know, basic stuff like this is often dismissed when it can really help you in a high level match.
-Never fall into a pattern. You need to remain unpredictable. If your opponent does something and you always react the same way, your opponent is going to pick up on that. Always be mixing it up and always be ready to be random. Being random gets a bad rap BECAUSE people don't expect it. Being random is certainly not a bad thing if you're winning now is it?
-Don't be so eager to keep unrelenting pressure when you corner your opponent. His back is in the corner, not yours. You don't need to panic and rush his shit down if it isn't needed. Just get in the perfect range, and keep him in the corner. Of course this is hard to do on character's like Raiden, but match-up knowledge plays a big factor in your footsie game.
-You need to decide where you want the match to be played. If you want to play a full screen match, make it a full screen match. When you force your opponent to play at the range, space and position on the screen that YOU want to be at, he's totally in your control.
-Lastly I want to touch on jumping. There's waaay too much of it in MK9. I realize, of course, that it's really needed in Mk9. But right now people are getting away with it more than they should. You want to be able to jump when it's safe. There's a few ways to accomplish this. One way is to bait out a projectile. Give him a reason to want to chuck plasma, then just be ready for it. Next would be a safe jump. This is acquired through match-up experience and knowing your own character's jump ranges. A safe jump is getting a jump in that's safe. Which means your opponent can't anti-air it or punish it. And if they try to you'll land in time to block and punish. And finally the cross-ups. Cross-ups are huge in MK9, setting them up is what you need to practice.
If you're jumping just to jump, you're doing it wrong. Jumping should be, in many cases, your last option. With the exception of the set-ups mentioned above. Ask yourself why you are jumping at this certain time. If you have no good answer, then you shouldn't be jumping. Simple right? You would certainly think so.
This is all I can think of at the moment. Footsies are a huge part of competitive play and I honestly feel they're lacking in high level MK9. Once you actively work on them, you WILL notice you doing better against everyone you play. Anything you do that forces your opponent to play YOUR game will always allow you to truly dominate the match and game. As I said though, footsies are really complex and they take so much practice and experience to master. The thing is, you have to actually work on them. They just don't come to you over night. Maybe you should even sacrifice winning to work on your footsies. You know, like not jumping for an entire match or only using the shimmy for your attacks. In the end, you'll be so thankful you took the time to learn footsies as it will not only improve your performance in one game, but in all the others as well.