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How to improve bursts and streams at any skill level: a guide

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Brainage
I see a lot of posts on this forum asking how to improve at bursts and streams, so I would like to make a guide for these people that they can easily digest and go back to at any point in time. I am relatively inexperienced with proper formatting of longer forum posts, so anybody who is knowledgeable is welcome to point out ways i could further improve this post :)

When it comes to bursts and streams, there are several factors that you need to think about when improving, one of the main ones being finger control - how well you can control the movement of your fingers. This will determine how low your Unstable Rate (UR) is, and therefore how good your accuracy is when playing bursts and streams. Another element is stamina - how many notes you can stream before your finger control deteriorates significantly or completely. The final element is speed - what BPM you can stream according to a certain benchmark (e.g 270BPM for 100 notes).

Here are a number of ways you can improve finger control, stamina and speed:
1. Learn to fully alternate. If you are a player who singletaps everything except for bursts and streams, that is not necessarily a bad thing, but it will help improve finger control when playing osu! in general, and that will then carry on to when you play maps with bursts and streams in them.

2. Expanding on point 1, learn to singletap with the other finger. The BAD one. This is a drastically more difficult process than point 1, but will also yield drastically faster results. Chances are, if you've never done this before, your finger control doing this will be absolute garbage (mine certainly was), and it will feel like your brain is about to explode from how difficult it is to play with such a style (i felt the same), but that feeling is a good feeling: it means you are improving at what you are doing right then in the moment. If you are persistent and do this for a certain amount of time a day (e.g. 1 hour, 25% of your daily playtime), you will moderately improve your finger control in osu! in general, and you can choose to switch to fully alternating or switch back to singletapping with your good finger.

3. Play maps with lots of bursts of varying degrees of length.
  1. For beginners, beatmap listing search queries such as "akitoshi's insane", downloading and playing these maps will help you get used to the feeling of triples and bursts of length 5, 7 and 9 notes.
  2. For players who are decent at bursts and streams, beatmap listing search queries such as "artist=goreshit", "artist=xi", "artist=BABYMETAL", "artist=GALNERYUS", "creator=barkingmaddog" and "creator=mazzerin", downloading and playing these maps will help further improve streaming ability.


4. Change your streaming technique. This can include:
  1. Changing what you move when you stream. This might mean streaming using a combination of moving your fingers and rotating your wrist (this is how i personally stream).
  2. Changing the fingers you tap with. If you do rotate your wrist while streaming, or wish to start doing so, using ring and index fingers to stream might improve your streaming as the two fingers are equidistant from the point of rotation and are both rotating equally during streaming - as opposed to using middle and index fingers where the middle finger isn't rotating (much) and the index finger is doing all the rotating. This difference in rotation might make streaming with ring/index feel better/with middle/index feel worse. (I don't know if this explanation sounds right but I hope it does lol)
  3. Expanding on the previous point, changing the devices you tap with. A decent amount of players (including top ones) play with that tap-x style, meaning that they alternate between tapping with their tablet pen/clicking with their mouse and tapping X or whatever key they have Right Click binded to. I have personally never tried this and haven't thought about trying it because i like streaming with keyboard and am content with my current improvement, but if you feel like you are stuck at your current skill level in terms of streaming, perhaps switching the device you tap with is a last resort that hopefully works.


5. Stretch your fingers, wrist and forearms before, after and hourly during playing. A useful video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiRC80FJbHU.

6. Sleep for 7, 8.5 or 10 hours every day (age dependent). The reason I have chosen these specific numbers is because they are divisible by 1.5 hours/90 minutes with a remainder of 1 hour/60 minutes. This is because REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stages occur every 90 minutes, and waking up in between these stages during the lighter stages of sleep has been shown to correlate with increased energy levels. Also sleep is when our brain processes everything that has happened during the day, and it's the reason we improve at things - meaning that sleep deprivation will result in slower improvement. Kind of a random one but i thought i might be able to help people with my limited knowledge of how sleep works.

Here are some extra things to consider:
1. Switches are (mostly) insignificant. If you are using switches such as MX Blacks while trying to set scores, you probably need to rethink your switch choice, but switches such as MX Speed Silvers are not as bad as others make them out to be if you use them properly (pressing the key down the full 2mm instead of abusing the 1.2mm actuation by "hover streaming"). I have used MX Speed Silvers since i started playing osu! on December 31, 2017 and I have set speed scores within the last few months such as https://osu.ppy.sh/scores/osu/3586485061 and https://osu.ppy.sh/scores/osu/3347684127. I always make sure that i bottom out the switch when streaming because of the audio feedback that bottoming out the switch provides.

2. Try to improve bursts and streams every day, or at least play osu! every day, if possible. If you do not play for 2 days or more you have a good chance of experiencing decreased either finger control, stamina or speed, and you will have to de-rust and get that skill back which can be extremely frustrating at times when it seems like all the hard work you put in and the progress you made has been taken away from you, and you're struggling to get it back.

Sorry if some of my explanations don't make sense. Anyone is welcome to help me improve this guide so that more players can better benefit from it. It's currently 2:42am in Australia and I'll try to add more things tomorrow morning, and I hope that people benefit from the advice I have given in this post so far!
[-Remilo-]
Point 3 is definitely the best option for me personally, I've been playing for 3 years but still struggle to stream 170bpm, so this year I'm really focusing at streams.
Aiq

Brainage wrote:

1. Learn to fully alternate.
alright i'm out
Kolmas

Brainage wrote:

6. Sleep for 7, 8.5 or 10 hours every day (age dependent).
alright i'm out
AlphaCent4260
as a full alt player:

Brainage wrote:

learn to singletap with the other finger.
alright im out

nah but seriously though, this looks like a good guide to follow. ill keep this in mind, especially since my middle finger seems to have gotten weaker when doing bursts and streams
TypiKol

Brainage wrote:

5. Stretch your fingers, wrist and forearms before, after and hourly during playing. A useful video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiRC80FJbHU.

6. Sleep for 7, 8.5 or 10 hours every day (age dependent).
I've never thought about this too much, I'll really have to fix my schedule so I can be more consistent with my sessions (and health lol). Thanks for the video!
FaceLessBoi_1

Brainage wrote:

1. Learn to fully alternate.
bruh
[ KrulYuno ]

Brainage wrote:

1. Learn to fully alternate.
aight im out
This DLC costs so much that I bought alternate single tapping
SilentRiver
I’m just going to throw these 4 star burst practice maps here

osu.ppy.sh/b/656534
osu.ppy.sh/b/250830
b/153962
https://osu.ppy.sh/b/188891
b/418631
https://osu.ppy.sh/b/199047
b/580225
https://osu.ppy.sh/b/433960
b/342711
https://osu.ppy.sh/b/131141
b/107200
from this thread community/forums/topics/330775)
and bookmark this page. Hopefully by the time I’m done with these I’ll somewhat get the hang of alternating and single tapping with the other finger
rennk
great post i agree with point 4 a lot, helped me a bunch just by simply moving my keyboard, changing keys and what 2 fingers i use, which is now index and ring
Koolkid1907

Aiq wrote:

Brainage wrote:

1. Learn to fully alternate.
alright i'm out
HAHAHAHXAHXHAXHAXHAHXAH
EZRAGS1219
big brain.
Topic Starter
Brainage
will make a better structured guide at some point, just busy with other things in my life right now. good to see that people are finding the advice helpful so far :)
Rematyar

Brainage wrote:

1. Learn to fully alternate.
b r u h
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