Skills for the Advanced Pinball Player

After passing the intermediate level, move on to more advanced forms of ball control, such as stopping a speeding ball. * :: \\ - Bounce Pass :: :: No, this isn't a basketball pass which is supposed to bounce 1/3 of the distance from your teammate, this is a method of choosing which flipper you want to hit the ball! The concept is to allow the ball to simply bounce off of the undesired flipper to the desired one when the ball is rolling toward the center of the undesired flipper at a moderate rate. You must be wary of two things when performing this play on the ball:

  1. Note the speed of the ball. If the ball is coming down fast, do not perform a bounce pass, as the ball may bounce off the desired flipper and then hit the bottom of the slingshot resulting in a drain. Also, the ball may bounce across the desired flipper, and head up the inlane, and then out the outlane.

  2. If the ball hits the undesired flipper too close the base, it will head very quickly right along the surface of the undesired flipper and then down the center drain. If the ball hits too much off the tip, it may just carom STDM.

\\ - The Chill Manuever :: :: A phrase coined by an earlier post on skills by Dave Hollinsworth (I think), the Chill Manuever is a test of nerve and restraint. If a pin is between the flippers (something seen rarely on all machines but Premier ones) the ball may be saved from a drain when it heads STDM by simply allowing the ball to hit the pin and then come back up. The catch is that you must try not to flip, because then the ball does not have to travel as far or as straight in order to come back up through the flippers. In order to perform the Chill Manuever correctly you must be able to accurately analyze quickly whether the ball is going straight enough between the flippers because if it comes in on an angle, or does not hit the pin with the center of the ball, it may hit the pin but not ricochet back up, it may simply hit the pin on the way down. \\ - Hold Pass :: :: The Hold Pass is useful for passing the ball from one flipper to the other, when the ball is headed down the undesired flipper's inlane. If the ball is heading down the inlane at a moderately quick speed, simply hold up the undesired flipper and allow the ball to skip over to the desired one. \\ - Redirection :: :: Redirection is difficult and often dangerous, but most people who play pinball do it anyway. It is the act of hitting the ball straight away (without trying to use a control technique) while aiming at a particular target, making a quick estimate of the correct way to hit the ball with respect to the angle and speed that its currently heading towards the flipper.

For example (because I know that the description is long winded), you miss a shot and the ball comes screaming back to your flipper after hitting a post. If you are an experienced player, you will not only think about hitting the ball again to prevent a drain, but you will have a desired target for this shot (usually you will think defensively and simply aim for an open space, because you know the ball will keep moving fast after you hit it.) Redirection is the act of consciously attempting to aim the ball towards a desired target when hitting it without using a control technique. I most often do this as a reflex action in the situation described before, otherwise I would rather use another skill. If you can redirect a shot, and hit a key target, it will definately improve your confidence. Try, however, to use this only in a desperate situation. \\ - Repeating the Angle :: :: A more specific form of Redirection, Repeating the Angle is an attempt to add more speed the ball with the flipper, in the same direction as it heads toward the flipper. For example, a previous shot did not have enough power to clear the left ramp in TZ. It curls back down towards the flipper. You really want to raise the multiplier and the arrow is flashing very quickly, indicating that it is timing out, so you try to send the ball back exactly the way it is coming, only faster. For some reason, (and I won't try to use physics mumbo-jumbo, because I don't want to mislead) Repeating the Angle is usually successful. Once you get the hang of it, you can usually send the ball back up the playfield along the exact same path that it came down. \\ - Duration of Contact :: :: I anticipate that this will be hard to explain as I am unable to describe the underlying physics, but I will give an example to illustrate this skill/concept. I find that when the ball heads down the inlane at a quick speed a shot at the bear kick ramp in TAF can be difficult, especially when the ball heads away from the flipper when it hits the base of the flipper. Not all inlanes are completely smooth, if the ball rolls slightly upwards, you may have to change your shot. There are two things that you can do:

  1. You can hit the flipper very quickly (just tap it and let go) when the ball is above the tip. It will head up the ramp using the speed it had when zooming down the inlane.

  2. You can hit the flipper when the ball is more toward the center and hold it in longer, and you will have it roll off the tip as it heads up and it will head toward the ramp entrance with enough speed to clear it.

I do not fully understand the physics behind why these two methods work, basically the main goal is to mention that the Duration of Contact between the flipper surface and the ball surface can be used to the players advantage in aiming for a shot under certain situation such as a fast ball heading down the inlane. Try to get a sense of the effect that holding the flipper in longer rather than simply tapping it as the ball approaches has on the direction of the ball. Understanding this will be just another advantage for you. \\ - Coming Off :: :: This is a situation that must be recognized and dealt with using Duration of Contact and other skills in order to handle it properly. Coming off is when the ball goes across a flipper like it normally would, but it also heads away from the flipper. (as I mentioned in my Duration of Contact example). Another example is the right ramp diverter in TZ. The diverter should always release the ball such that it rolls along the surface of the left spiral wall, right along the flipper, and then you knock in the Player Piano for a 130 M Jackpot, right? Not always. Sometimes it "comes off" the wall, heading away from the flipper, in which you should hit the flipper earlier and quicker, so that you can still make the shot. When the ball is not exactly on the surface of the flipper, you should probably hit the flipper earlier and quicker than you normally would (normal being when the ball rolls along the surface of the flipper) in order to get the same results. \\ - Shaking/Nudging :: :: Shaking and Nudging are two methods of controlling the ball which are very important as far as giving a player an extra edge. Understanding these concepts will enable to get better scores on a tournament machine and unreal scores on a game with little tilt (I scored 13+ billion on Demolition Man last Sunday, borde because I could have kept the ball in play forever because there was no tilt. The pendulum weight which is involved in the tilt mechanism (it's not a gyroscope, thanks, Keith) was not even hanging in it's normal spot. It keeps falling off, so the tilt sensor is never activated!). I don't brag about this kind of score because I know it's non-legitimate, I have actually been after the techs to fix it, despite the comments of my friends who enjoy the no tilt set-up, because it is not good practice for the IFPA tournament! (crazy run-on sentence)

The basic concept is that if you want to move the machine to move the ball, you must move the machine in the opposite direction as you want to ball to move. The ball is relatively frictionless, therefore you must move the machine. The only times that you move the machine in the same direction as you want the ball to go, is when the ball is stuck against something, or when you want to send the ball through the Narrow Escape gate in IJ. To get a Narrow Escape you want to hit the ball with the pin on the right side of the outlane, in order to knock the ball through the gate, or have it bounce off the pin through the gate.

In order to make the ball choose the inlane over the inlane you want to move the machine toward the outlane so that the pin between the inlane and outlane moves toward the outlane and the ball hits the pin on the inlane side and heads down the inlane. This is nudging, and should be performed as quickly and lightly as possible so to avoid warnings and tilt. You can also nudge the machine in the opposite direction of the direction angle in which a ball is heading down the middle. You do not want to work against the speed and the angle, rather if the ball is heading diagonally left, down the playfield toward the center drain, nudge the cabinet right so that the ball will go more left and you will be able to perform a slap save, hitting the left flipper and then the right in rapid-fire succession.

Shaking is when a player continuously pushes the cabinet up and down when the ball is in the bumpers in order to make the ball hit the bumpers more often. (These are just my definitions, they are not official ones from some ancient textbook of pinball!) Shaking is something that should probably not be performed during a tournament unless Super Jets are active because you don't want to have warnings just for more bumpers hits, you want to save them for saving the ball from the outlanes or the center. \\ - Upper Flipper Set-Up :: ::

You can set up an upper flipper shot for say, the Double Jackpot ramp in Demolition Man or Tommy by holding out the flipper when the ball heads toward it, and is rolling downward toward the tip when you hold it out. The ball should carom up around the surface of the flipper, back along the wall above the flipper and then straight down for a better shot then if you just hit the flipper without setting the shot up. \\ * ::

If you consider yourself an advanced player, go on to skills for the wizard pinball player and see how well you can do . . . /pinball/ Back to the Pinball Pasture /pinball/playing/ Back to Playing the Game of Pinball /pinball/playing/VFBTF/skills.html Back to Skills for the Pinball Player