Ball saver and coaching


I think at that point you’re legally obligated to ragetilt.


Could you please cite where in the rules this is stated. All I see if that they cannot be coached and that if they ask a question, a TD can only answer if the machine is functioning correctly. I see no clause about changing strategy after hearing advice.


There is almost no way to prove intent here, not to mention that there are so many scenarios including those that are already mentioned that make this even more of a grey area, especially those involving decisive outcomes.

Most games have an audio cue that go along with the ball save animation. What if the “coaching” and audio cue are heard simultaneously?

This would almost certainly be coaching and to me could even be considered collusion depending on the situation or scenario and players involved. I.e. a player is your copilot to advance and you know they have achieved the score you need them to through bonus. You yell “don’t tilt” and to me thats a dead giveaway. I for one used to be awful about awareness in terms of where I was in games and have lost many due to tilting and losing when I otherwise would have won.

There is nothing written in the IFPAPA ruleset that states this. The player providing any coaching receives the warning, as they should and it should stay this way.


Yup. Ball saves are harder than the situation at hand in my example, which went from asking for a ruling to playing to take advantage of a timed feature. I’m really trying to be generic about the situation because I don’t want to implicate anyone or start anything because of it.

It’s easy to see intent when you go from “let me get a ruling” to “let me play it out.”


Alright. Let’s get away from the specific incident then. Because it really is unimportant. I would be against punishing anyone receiving unsolicited advice even if they follow it. This includes someone shouting “if he shoots the ramp he wins”, or “if she shoots the scoop she’ll have the best stack possible” or “ball save!”

There is a difference between coaching and being coached when you didn’t ask for it.


I would think that is immaterial. If someone shouts “ball save”, it doesn’t matter whether the player returns to the machine because he/she heard the shout, or for some other reason. Players are not supposed to be coaching; if they are coaching, that would have to result in a penalty by the rules as they stand, it seems.

Of course, spectators can shout “ball save”, too. What are we going to do with such miscreants? Eject them from the venue? :thinking:

I’m trying to get a feel for current practice at tournaments in the US. From the discussion so far, I take it that the “ball save” shout is tolerated at most events?


That’s not what we’re saying at all. We’re saying that the player, should they get back to the game in time after the shout, they will not be penalized in anyway whatsoever. Only the person shouting ball save.

Spectators I’m sure would be treated in a different manner obviously.


Ah, yes, I got that. Sorry if I gave a different impression. I agree, the player at the machine shouldn’t be penalised; after all, that player has no control over what other people are doing. The player who shouts should be penalised, at least according to a strict reading of the rules, it seems.

But what do TDs (on average) actually do at tournaments in the US when this happens?


I can only speak for myself. Unless it’s a high level tournament with lots of players, I will do nothing to either person involved in a call out of ball save.

However, in a larger event I’m running, if someone does call out ball save, I will warn them about the rule and ask them to try and not do it again.


Yeah, sorry all. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of totally made up situations with things like this. :slight_smile:

In my experience, I can’t recall a single time where this was ever penalized since I started competing. As a TD, until now, I’ve never really considered even penalizing a player for something like this. However, moving forward I may say something to the player that pointed out the ball save to the effect of “Be careful about doing that - this is how it could be perceived/ruled upon and I don’t want to have to penalize you for trying to be a good sport”, but I don’t think it would warrant a yellow card.

To me, this is largely dependent on the magnitude of the event as well. For league nights that are meant to be more social and create a more relaxed setting in which players can learn from each other, I’d almost never yellow card a player. For Pinburgh or PAPA finals, or even a SPC Event, it might be a different story. To me, we also need to consider the situation. Is it best game format where someone is qualifying and a small group of other competitors who are also spectating and this happens? Head to head? Group of 4? We could go on for days.

Although intent can’t be proven, I really do feel that in 99% of cases, that people are just trying to be good sports in these situations. I understand that you’re looking for clarity in terms of how the rules are written, and unfortunately I don’t think I have the best answer for that or a proposed change. However, I can’t help but gravitate towards the line under interference; “interference is regrettable, but can happen”.


Or maybe not?


Yep. Invoke the magical “TD is final arbiter of the rules” clause based on the severity of the event and the situation at hand. Ball save reminding inevitably screws over the other players in the group, but does your event care about that? Do your players care about that, or do they care about specific people doing that for reasons?

The range definitely needs to go the whole spectrum of options depending on severity and nuance, though. Some events require shrugging, others require cards thrown out.


In this situation it wasn’t, that we know of. Maybe somebody pulled those folks aside (if they could’ve been identified) and asked them not to do that. I really don’t know. This is a great example though. My comment was geared primarily toward how to handle these issues now and in the future opposed to those in the past.


Absolutely. I find it really difficult to not shout “ball save” when this happens. It’s almost instinctive.

I also agree that, depending on the situation, it may well not matter. Especially in more causal, “friendly” tournaments, I really can’t see the point of leaning on the rules. On the other hand, the hypothetical I posted for group matchplay demonstrates that there is potential for abuse. (I have seen this actually happen; not in the context of a missed ball save, but otherwise the same—someone with good knowledge of the current points situation interfering with a game to improve their standing.)

So (again, wearing my black hat): suppose this happens at one of your tournaments. One of the players in my group shouts “balls save”, which helps another player surpass my score, and I come to you as the TD and complain that this was coaching and that, had the “ball save” shout not happened, I’d be advancing to the next round whereas, as is, I’m not.

What will your ruling be?

Please, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to put you on the spot. I’m pointing out that the rules, as written, make the “ball save” shout illegal. So, something has to give. We can’t have it both ways. If there’s a rule that TDs don’t consistently enforce, people can legitimately question the TD as to why coaching is allowed for a ball save when, otherwise, it isn’t. So, either we change the rules to make shouting “ball save” legal, or we enforce the rule.

I’m uncomfortable with a rule that is not being enforced because that opens up a can of worms: “well, the coaching rule isn’t enforced for ball saves, so what’s your problem with me telling my team mate to shoot the left orbit?”


I don’t feel like you’re putting me on the spot, man. It’s all good. This is good discussion, especially considering some the other threads :sweat_smile:

At this point, it would be apparent to me that you feel that this events is important enough and the situation was severe enough that needs attention. I would approach the player and have a discussion regarding yelling “ball save” and take time to explain the implications of doing so and how it may affect other players. I would not give a yellow card for the first offense. In any future events, if the same player did it again, I may consider a yellow card.

So many scenarios pop into my head as I’m writing these responses. I think about the player that chooses not to say anything, but still feels cheated, or that nobody speaking up doesn’t necessarily indicate that nobody found it important enough. This is hard. I don’t like this. Hahaha.


Same here. It really is awkward. Damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. Either way leaves a bad taste in my mouth :frowning:

But that’s why I raised this question. It actually came up recently at a (minor and friendly) tournament, where everybody was rooting for everybody else, and there were at most 5 points on the line for winner. Someone shouted “ball save”. It really didn’t matter as far as the outcome was concerned (and no-one would have cared if it had mattered). But someone piped up and said “isn’t this actually illegal because it’s coaching?”

Maybe this could be dealt with under the rules about TD discretion? A TD could state up-front as to how the “ball save” shout will be dealt with. In a group matchplay situation, as the TD, I’d have a careful look at who shouted and, potentially, why. In a pump-and-dump qualifying session, as the TD, I wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow, seeing that the shouter can only hurt him/herself…


FWIW, I like your explanation and decision making regarding this rule.

To play devil’s advocate:
We seem to have agreement that a semi-involuntary “ball save” shout is different from a thought-out “use your VIP button” or “jackpot is lit on the left orbit” shout. However, the actual written rule makes no distinction between these things.

[Extra relevance because @Slamtilt was one of the TDs] FWIW #2 , in the Pinburgh B playoffs, I got a couple unexpected ball saves on LAH and started to walk away from my game. No one in my group said anything, but both times, someone’s eyes got so wide that I knew to run back to the machine. Would anyone suggest that involuntary eye-widening would be seen as coaching under the current written rule?


I think it might be a good idea to define and document the common “TD discretion” occurrences so that all/new TDs know what to expect when they run tournaments, including preparation on how they should handle the ball save call.


TD to player: “You raised your eyebrows and opened your eyes wide. You are disqualified.” :slight_smile:


You’d want to try to card this kitty? :cat: