Ball saver and coaching


The consensus seems to be this is a situation where ‘competition’ is in conflict with ‘sportsmanship’ or building friendly environments.

The repeated thing is people do it out of desire to HELP… but at the very competitive moments, it’s a detriment because of the material impact.

How about instead of treating it as some strict rules violation (that is entirely difficult to enforce and scope), why not instead coach it to players as a matter of sportsmanship? Coach that we want each person to compete on their own without external aids… and while we all hate to see someone make an unavoidable mistake, this is an example where outside things can make material impacts that affect OTHER people.

You’re going to have more success convincing people of why the behavior can have a negative impact and attract followers with honey… than you are with trying to outlaw behavior by mandate that everyone can shoot holes through over and over.

Let’s preach what we should all be doing - instead of trying to ban behavior we can’t stop. Discourage it, not try to outlaw it.

Just a thought…


If I were running a tournament I might think about putting an exception in for ball saves. I’ve played in tournaments or leagues and told other players in my group about a ball save and nobody in the group had a problem with it. I wouldn’t do it at a high-profile tournament because it’s a more formal situation and because I know of the rule. But I also appreciate that the TDs announced it at the start of Pinburgh so I don’t have to feel like a heel when I do the lawful thing.


Great idea! I am doing this. Added to my list along with fireball stuck ball in multiball.


In most cases, we are playing the equivalent of pickup basketball until you make it to finals of larger tournaments and then it switches to more like playing in the NBA.

It’s not like pinball is a situation where there are TDs or a referee at every machine during a tournament to make the calls for the competitors. When I played basketball in a formal game, I let the refs make the calls. If the ref missed a call, well that’s just part of the game. If there were refs during a pinball tournament watching over my game I would do the same thing. While in a pickup game, I would be much more likely to call the ball out bounds or own up to a foul. I feel like most of the time it’s up to the players to police themselves much like calling your own fouls in a pickup game. Even if you have experienced TDs around, folks still have to decide to get a TD for a ruling a lot of the time.

Once you get to the finals though, with fewer players there’s a much better chance that a TD will be watching the games and can make the calls on the spot if need be. I find it interesting that these two separate atmospheres can happen during the same event.


But unlike the pick-up game example… these are not separate events, governed by separate expectations or continuities.

This is the equivalent of “let the people police themselves” - which we know from time and time again creates problems. From people being just wrong… or people feeling uncomfortable contradicting individuals or the larger group, etc.

The TD isn’t there full time - but the scope, purpose, and validity of them is. The players are expected to play as if the TD were right there.

The real difference in many of these posts is… the variance in the TD’s actual judgement. This isn’t the ‘players ruling themselves’, this is the TD varying their judgement… potentially (as in your example) within the same event itself. That’s not good.

Consistency should be a leading tenant of the organizers. So there shouldn’t be any variance between say… qualifying rounds… and finals rounds when it comes to rulings. PAPA events have excelled at this angle… and I think the talks at pinburgh, etc do this service as well in their talks about player expectations.

TL:DR - variance in judgements bad

If variance is what is needed in practice, then you should re-examine the policy you are trying to enforce


Allow coaching whenever the player is facing away from the machine, not touching the machine and the ball is moving on the playfield (not in a saucer, scoop, etc.).


I will say that when it comes to the rules announcements at Pinburgh, I have observed that it may actually be going too far. In both of the last two years, I have had someone come over and admonish me for discussing game strategy and machine setup with another competitor while both of us were between balls and out of range of the current player. In both cases the person believed that no coaching referred to anyone currently involved in a game whether playing or not, based on the announcements at the start of the event. Some clarity there would be helpful in the future.


can we get a JudgeDredd cosplay at the next pinburgh to solve this for people? :slight_smile:


The reality is those announcements are still hard to hear. I haven’t tried to listen back through this year’s announcements but we try to make it clear what we mean about coaching.

I agree I have heard other players confused by the concept, thinking it means no coaching at any time. Will try to do better!


Would you consider telling another player that they have a stuck ball in multiball coaching?


No. That’s in the rules that it’s the other players’ responsibility to call this out to the player. I think it’s the only thing that you can tell a player while they are playing.