Me: Do you know how to DI?
Them: Yeah, but I don't really implement it
Me: Oh, you should try practicing it more

I’ve had this conversation 20+ times at this point, so I figured it’s about time to write something aimed at these players. The thing about DI is that it’s a very different skill from the rest of the game, so without deliberately putting time towards it, you’ll simply never learn it.

This is bad enough, but it’s made worse by the presence of many local scenes where few or none of the players actually use it well. When none of your frequent opponents DI, not only do you not learn how to play against it, but the huge impact it has on the game isn’t obvious. However, this is something a single player can have a huge impact on. By practicing DI, you’ll be helping yourself improve, but also be helping your community improve as a whole.

This guide is divided into two parts: technique, which outlines what I feel are the best ways to perform DI, and application, how to make DI a consistent part of your play.

DI Technique

Techniques for performing DI fall into two groups:

  • Smash DI, which involves quickly hitting the stick in the direction you want to travel, and returning it to center in between each hit
  • Slide DI, which involves quickly sliding the stick up and down across a cardinal direction

Of the two, slide DI gives the most powerful DI in terms of movement distance, but this doesn’t mean the smash DI is useless, as we’ll see.

One tricky element of DI is that using it often requires switching hand position or grip, which can be difficult to switch to in the middle of a skirmish and to act immediately after. For this reason, I suggest using the following 3 different DI techniques, based on the type of move you’re hit with.

Technique 1 - Simple Smash DI

This technique is extremely straightforward, just hit the stick in the direction you want to move when you get hit. This is most useful when you’re hit by a move you don’t expect in advance, or when you don’t need to move very far. The two most common cases for this are when hit by a quick drill unexpectedly, since you won’t have time to switch grip to a better type of DI but have enough time for multiple smash inputs, and ledge DI during recovery, where you don’t need much distance but might not be able to predict your opponent’s attack.

Technique 2 - Wank DI

This is probably the most popular and well-known DI technique, and should generally be the workhorse of your DI. For those unfamiliar, this is the technique shown in the first 6 seconds of this video. This technique requires a small change in your grip, so you should be able to perform it by the second hit of most combos. Wank DI is usually used for slide DI to the left and right, but it’s also possible to use it to input smash DI up or down, although I recommend using technique 3 for that. There are some moves and combos that are difficult to escape using horizontal DI, so for those you may want to use another technique, but simply wank DIing away from your opponent is extremely effective in most situations.

Technique 3 - Pinch DI

Pinch DI is a technique for performing slide DI that can produce very impressive results, but requires a significant hand reposition. Pinch DI essentially involves pinching the stick with your thumb and index finger to perform slide DI. There are multiple ways to pinch the stick, I prefer the method boom shows here, but this method is also fine, or whatever works best for you. This method is the best way to input DI up and DI down, which makes it extremely useful for escaping long combos, especially against characters that are fast in the air. However, it can take some time to move your hand back into a normal position after using it, so it’s best used when it’s necessary to escape an otherwise lethal combo.

Practicing Techniques

There are tons of ways to practice these techniques by yourself, I’ll outline my 2 favorites but use whatever you like:

With everdrive/emulator- Use the gameshark code 8112FF50 42FF. This will massively increase the hitlag every attack does. Just spawn a bomb and walk into it, and you’ll be put into near permanent hitlag, allowing you to see the distance you get from different DI techniques and speeds. A fun way to practice with this is to go into Vs. mode and have two players enter hitlag, then race to see who can circle dreamland the fastest. Demo here.

With console no tools- Plugin two controllers, set fireflowers to high, have one character pick up a fireflower, and use your foot/a rock/your friend to hold down the A button on that controller, then practice DIing all the way through the fire and flames with the other. This method is described in a bit more detail in Nate L’s video here.


When it comes to DI, the issue most players struggle with isn’t performing the DI inputs themselves, but using them every time they’re hit in-game. The key is to understand that using DI needs to be an unconscious reflex to being hit.

Once you know a skill exists, you need to go through three stages to master it:

  1. Conscious Incompetence <— You are here
  2. Conscious Competence
  3. Unconscious Competence

The goal is to get to Unconscious Competence at the bottom, but to get there, you need to spend a long time consciously performing good DI. What this means in practice is that you need to DI in every game you play. Note that I didn’t say “every serious game against an opponent your level when you’re not tired”, I said every game. When you play a level 9 CPU, DI its random downsmashes. When you’re playing against the guy down the street that thinks kirby’s down-b is the best move in the game, you should be using DI. When you’re blazed as hell playing falcon dittos with your best friend at 2AM, DI his terrible falcon punch setups.

Your goal is to teach your muscle memory that DI is something you should always be doing and shouldn’t have to think about it, you should just do it as soon as you see that attack about to hit you. Any time you play that you’re not actively trying to DI is going against that goal. Yes, even if you’re really tired.

One good way to get into the habit of consciously DIing, especially when first learning a new DI technique, is to play games where all your focus is on DI. Play an opponent that’s capable of standard combos and only think about DIing every hit and combo, don’t worry about neutral or what else is going on in the game. This will quickly get your hands in the habit of using DI.

DI Direction Guidelines

In general, you’ll want to DI away from your opponent, to avoid followups. Some moves and combos are best dealt with by DIing one specific way, which you’ll mostly need to find through experimentation, but here’s a few guidelines:

Light characters, like Kirby and Puff, can get a lot of mileage out of upward DI. Some characters have their entire combo games shutdown if you DI their initial launcher up well enough. Fox’s combos are particularly vulnerable to this, made even better by the fact that his high speed allows him to follow horizontal DI pretty easily. Vertical DI is also the key to escaping his silly jab walks.

Platforms are key to escaping combos in a variety of ways. Ness and Samus rely on keeping their opponent on platforms for techchases, so DI their spikes away from the platform to reach safety. Jigglypuff is similar. Although she doesn’t rely on techchases, her slow ground movement means she’d much prefer her targets stayed in place on a small platform she can easily cover with utilt and grab. Meanwhile, Kirby and Falcon players will often drop their prepared combos if you can DI towards a platform to land on.

Spike setups, like Kirby’s weak bair to dair or Yoshi’s ftilt to fair, present tricky decisions. DIing the setup move out might help you escape the spike entirely, but it might make death unavoidable if your DI is too weak. Meanwhile, DI in might prevent the spike from killing you, but it might also maximize the combo’s potential damage. Against Kirby I DI out immediately, and thanks to his poor airspeed I can escape the dair. Against Yoshi I like to keep DIing the ftilts in until he’s very close to the edge, then DI out or up and hope he doesn’t react to change in position quickly. You might find different directions work for you. As you practice more and get more used to the distance your DI takes you, these decisions will become easier.


DI is not easy to master, but it is easy to start mastering. Like anything, it doesn’t require a lot of practice so much as it requires consistent practice. Start DIing today. I’ll see you on Dreamland.