How do you approach the next ball?

…in a competition. Do you have a routine? Are you planning on certain shots? Hyping yourself up? Clearing your thoughts?
Or do you just rush in and plunge as quickly as possible?

I personally just rush up and GO! But I think I’m one of the few…


I usually take a deep breath, think about the plunge especially if the plunge matters, think about what I’m going to do this ball, then go.


Unless I am playing a data east, or something else where I am impacting state.


Just go to your happy place!


Synchronize your approach with the player next to you. :slight_smile:


Yes, but not the result!

Still my best Pinburgh finish, but man I wish I hadn’t fumbled away like everything in that round. So don’t do what I did with your “next ball” approach.

Most players just play their game and try not to over-think it. But I suspect you’re looking for something a bit more specific. I’ll make a few suggestions. If your previous ball was a good one, just go and stay in the zone; don’t let your brain get in the way. If the last ball was a bad one, don’t dwell on it; refocus and forge ahead. If you made a specific mistake previously, tell yourself not to repeat it and adjust accordingly, but do that thinking right after your ball while someone else is playing. Don’t be thinking about that when it’s your turn; you want to be thinking “do the right things,” not “don’t do the wrong things” when you step up to play.

The other idea to consider is if it’s your last ball and you’re in last place, do you need to win outright or do you just need to pass one or more other players? If you don’t have to go for broke, consider trying to pick off one position at a time, i.e. take third, then work on taking second, then first sequentially. If you have to go big, go big!

Lastly, if you’re in first place but are not last to play, how big a lead are you likely to need to stay there? You should pay attention to how close the other players are to major scoring opportunities. If you’ve already played multiball or some high-value mode but other players haven’t but are set up to do so, how much will they score if they get it started? Add that to what they already have, plus more for general play, and anticipate needing at least that much to have a fair chance of still winning. How far are you from that “maybe-safe” score? What’s the best way for you to get to that score given your own game state?


my best year at pinburgh, i had a routine. i’ve gotten away from it, but maybe i should start doing it again.

i’m not a great player but i finished as one of the top seeds in B a few years back. that year, my routine was i would walk up to the game, repeat to myself how i lost my last ball (in my head not out loud like a crazy person), repeat to myself my game strategy, and then repeat to myself anything i’d noticed about tilt, flipper strength, rubber condition, or lean. then i would flip the flippers a couple times, and plunge. It was the same routine every ball, and it took maybe 15 seconds or so.

i think the positive effect here was more emotional than logical. i think the primary benefit to this routine was to simply enforce a pause, and center my attention on the game – get every aspect of my focus narrowed in on that ball and that playfield, and allow everything else around me to melt away. i think that was probably helping me more than the actual content of what i was thinking about.


I think it’s a good idea to have a strategy in mind at the start of the ball. How many shots away are you from various scoring opportunities (modes/multiballs)? What are you shooting for when the ball is on the left flipper vs. the right flipper (orbits/ramps/scoop/bash toy)? Are you trying for a skill shot or super skill shot? What’s your plan for various kickouts (MET snake, TZ slot machine, TAF chair, etc.)? Is there something another player did that you want to try, or need to avoid doing (flippers seem too weak for shot X, dead pass does/doesn’t work for kickout from Y)?

What’s your short-term goal (start X multiball, get N points) and long-term goal (collect enough Y’s to start Z) for this ball. This way you aren’t interrupting your flow to trap up and make a plan after accomplishing your short-term goal.

I’m always shocked to play pinball with someone and have them act surprised about an unexpected upper flipper or not knowing where a soft/medium/hard plunge will deliver the ball. Taking the time to bring your focus into the game will always help you improve your play.

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